DEAR HARRIETTE: My 14-year-old daughter was hanging out with her girlfriend at home, and they were supposed to be doing homework. When I went in the room and asked what they were doing, I got a lot of nothing in terms of an answer, followed by the admission that they were about to watch Netflix. My daughter knows what she was asked to do. In front of her friend she tried to act like it was annoying for me to ask her questions about her homework. I did not press the issue more than to say that if they weren’t doing homework in the next few minutes, the visit would be over. I know my daughter was trying to act as though she’s in control. She is not. How can I reinforce our house rules without embarrassing her? -- Out of Bounds, Pittsburgh
DEAR OUT OF BOUNDS: It’s good strategy on your part to give her some wiggle room to save face with her friend, at least this time. A teenager’s job is to jockey for independence, which usually includes pushing back against whatever a parent has to say. To the extent that you can keep your disciplining private, you may have better results with your daughter.
When alone, reinforce what your expectations are of your daughter, including the tone of voice she uses to communicate with you and the timeliness of her responses. Make it clear that if she does not adhere to your rule of putting homework first, she will lose the privilege of hanging out with her friends.