DEAR HARRIETTE: I have three children, ages 6, 11 and 18. My two youngest kids are with my current husband, and my oldest is from a previous marriage.
I am having some trouble with my eldest son. He always seems to be in a bad mood and unwilling to spend time with our family. I know he is at that age where he only wants to be with his friends, and I usually give him a lot of space to be independent, but I would like him to want to spend more time with our family.
I have tried talking with him about this, but every time I bring it up, he completely shuts me down and ignores me for a couple of days. Please let me know if you have any advice on how I can approach my son about spending more time with our family. -- Sad Mama, Silver Spring, Maryland
DEAR SAD MAMA: Your eldest is at the age when he should be almost leaving the nest. While he is living at home, you can still make house rules. First, tell him how important it is to you that he participate in family activities, at least a little bit. Acknowledge that you know he prefers to spend time with his friends. Point out that, for you, family is first and that you want him to make family a priority among his other interests. If he still resists, give him an ultimatum. If he wants to keep living in your house, you expect him to participate in family activities. Only go there as a last resort, though. The goal is to get him to want to be connected, at least a little bit.