DEAR HARRIETTE: My children are my pride and joy. I would do anything for them, and I'm trying to raise them to be the best they can be. Lately, however, I don't seem to have as good of a grip on things. My oldest child is a very good student, brings home straight A's and does what's expected of her. My youngest child isn't so "perfect." He wants to do as he pleases, he is satisfied with B's and C's and it's a miracle if something is done out of the kindness of his heart. I don't mean to compare my kids, but I just don't see where I went wrong with my second child. I constantly have to stay on top of him just for him to behave and bring home decent grades. He is more interested in singing than school, and he doesn't see the need for an education. I feel as if we aren't the closest, and I'd really like to feel connected to both of my children. How do I get him to see that there's more in life than just music? How do I get him to want to achieve more? -- Lost Mother, Los Angeles
DEAR LOST MOTHER: I think you need to adopt another strategy. Talk to your son about his dreams and aspirations. Learn what inspires him. Music doesn't have to be a dead end. Help him figure out how to make money living his dream. While you may be able to actually do only a little to help him, your interest in his pursuits will be invaluable. Every human being has his or her own interests and abilities. Your job as a parent is to guide his steps.
As hard as it may seem, you must also accept that not every person is a straight-A student, and that's OK. Try hard not to compare your children; instead, seek to nurture their qualities and help them figure out how to use them to support their lives.