11/22/2019 7:49:00 AM Son requests new computer for Christmas
DEAR HARRIETTE: My son is at a new school this year, and he has asked for a fancy computer for Christmas so that he can have the same one as his friends. I checked with his instructors, and I know that the computer he has is sufficient for him to complete his work. But peer pressure is real, and he says he only wants one thing for Christmas -- and this is it.
I get that my son thinks he is being thoughtful in selecting only one item for Christmas, but the reality is that this computer costs over $1,000, when his perfectly good computer that we just bought him this year was only a few hundred dollars. How can I let him down easily? We can't afford to buy him a computer that he doesn't even need. -- No New Computer
DEAR NO NEW COMPUTER: Speak directly to your son, and make it crystal clear that you will not be buying him the computer he requested this Christmas. Assure him that it is not a punishment. Remind him that you recently purchased a computer for him that his instructors have indicated is more than adequate to handle his course load.
Don't skirt the issue -- your son wants to have the computer that his peers have. Let him know that you understand his reasoning while you also know that it is not possible to stay in step with his peers all the time. He will have to learn how to embrace his own life and to value the things he has, even when they are different from his friends'. Reinforce that what you own does not measure your personal value.
DEAR HARRIETTE: My son is 17 years old, and he has not had a girlfriend yet. I am so happy about that. I hope he doesn't have a girlfriend until he is in college. I think dating is overrated, and I'm fine with him being a late bloomer. I have a girlfriend who hates my thinking on this. She thinks it is better for her child to date during high school so that she can provide wisdom when he does something dumb. She thinks supervision is a good thing when he is still under her roof. What do you think? -- Teenage Dating
DEAR TEENAGE DATING: I believe that people begin to date when the time is right for them, and there is no prescribed "right" time. That said, it is common for teenagers to begin to take interest in each other and often to explore romantic feelings. Even in 2019, that curiosity does not automatically mean that teens will engage in sexual activity. For many young people, there are several steps before actual sexual intimacy takes place. While a parent cannot fully monitor that, you can teach your children and teens what your expectations and values are about intimacy.
To your question, I think it is helpful for you as a parent to be able to provide input about relationships before your child moves away. You have far less influence when your child is out of your house. I am not recommending that you encourage your child to date. I am suggesting that you talk about relationships and what happens in them with your child now -- and regularly. Do your best to establish an open dialogue with your teen so that whenever intimacy begins, you are part of the conversation.
Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to email@example.com or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.