Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Daughter's Punishment Doesn't Fit Her Crime

DEAR HARRIETTE: My daughter received an invitation to attend her high school's junior prom, and, as her mother, I have a few reservations about her attending the dance. My daughter has performed poorly in school, and I don't think it would be a good idea for her to go at this time. I told her the bad news, and she was disappointed by my response. I explained why she can't attend her junior prom, and she accepted the lecture. Do you think I was too hard on my daughter? -- Momma Knows Best?, Memphis, Tenn.

DEAR MOMMA KNOWS BEST?: I understand wanting to take away privileges when your child is not performing well in school, though I am not sure that this is an effective choice in this moment. Depending upon the reasons why your daughter is not doing well in school determines a lot. One option could have been for you to use the prom as enticement for her to attempt to perform better in school. You could negotiate terms with her for attendance based on behavioral and/or academic shifts. Punishment does not always work.

Additionally, you may want to investigate more thoroughly to find out the root of her problems. Meet with her guidance counselor and teachers to figure out why she is not performing well. She may need a tutor or a psychologist. Solving challenges at school is rarely simple. Taking away a desirable activity may seem to be a solution, but it may be touching only the surface of her issues. For insight into this challenge, read: livestrong.com/article/180615-how-to-encourage-my-teenage-child-to-do-well-in-school/.

DEAR HARRIETTE: My daughter got into an argument with her best friend in class. Ever since then, their relationship has been a bit strained. My daughter has reached out to her friend a couple of times to see if they can have a play date, but so far nothing. The girls are only 10 years old. I want to help my daughter learn that you can disagree and still remain friends, but I cannot make the other girl want to do this. What are my options? -- Distressed Friend's Mom, New York City

DEAR DISTRESSED FRIEND'S MOM: The cold water in your face is that you cannot protect your daughter from everything or fix every problem she faces. You can talk to her about the argument and learn more about what caused the rift between the girls. Learn what your daughter's role was in the disagreement and how it ended. Find out if the girls have had more words since.

There is a chance that their disconnection is not based on the disagreement. It could be that the girl is simply busy. Or her feelings could still be hurt. Teach your daughter to apologize for whatever she did that was wrong and then to back off. She should not beg the girl for her friendship. If you feel you need to dig deeper, check in with the girl's mom to see if there is more to the story.