DEAR HARRIETTE: My son is a bit of a bookworm. He used to attend robotics camps, but I've noticed a difference in him as he's entered high school. Gone is the "Star Wars" obsession and love for extra math problems. I think my son is trying to better his social ranking in high school and is doing all of the things "cool kids" do, like not care about homework.
The final straw came when I got home and saw that beer had been taken out of the fridge. I assume my son had some sort of get-together in which underage children drank alcohol. I wouldn't know for sure because my son refuses to confess. I didn't drink the beer, my wife didn't drink the beer and my 6-year-old daughter did not drink the beer.
I want to show my son that you don't have to throw parties to be popular. I am disappointed that he drank beer, and I am worried about him and his self-esteem. Should I punish him for drinking my beers? I think he's desperately trying to make friends, but I don't want him going to these lengths and lying to me. -- Something's Brewing, Detroit
DEAR SOMETHING'S BREWING: Two things need to happen. First, your son must learn the consequences of his actions. If you know he is responsible for the beer consumption, he needs some kind of punishment for lying and underage drinking. Even more, you need to get him to talk about what's happening at school. Remind him of the importance of keeping his values, even as he expands his friend group. Stay as close to him as you can so that you can know when to be of support.