DEAR HARRIETTE: I have a teenage daughter who has been lovely thus far. When people have warned me about how teens turn on their parents, I’ve shrugged it off. I figure if I focus on the positive, we can create space for less drama. Because this is my attitude, I find myself in an uncomfortable place.
My daughter has begun to be very snippy with me, and it turns out she hasn’t been honest. As we were getting ready for school to start, I discovered she had not completed her summer homework. She had months to get it done and ended up cramming it in the two weeks leading up to school. I was so angry. There were some tense words between us. I took her phone away from her until she got the work done. What else can I do to keep her on track? -- Drop the Attitude, Denver
DEAR DROP THE ATTITUDE: You can still focus on the positive and point out to your daughter that her life will be more productive and pleasant if she manages her time better and meets her deadlines. You can help by letting her know you will be checking in with her daily to ensure she completes her assignments on time. She will not appreciate this. You can let her know you must monitor her work daily until you see she is on top of it.
Give her a month of daily check-ins. After that time, if she is doing well consistently, you can move to weekly check-ins. If she does not complete assignments in a timely manner or with enough attention, take away privileges -- from the phone to spending time with friends.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I have been going out with a nice guy for a few months. He is very old school in that he brings me a gift of some kind at each date. There’s something sweet about this, but also something annoying. I can’t quite pinpoint it. I guess what I like is his attentiveness, but I don’t eat chocolate. I don’t like tchotchkes. I have a modern, streamlined life. Somehow he doesn’t seem to notice what I like. Do I say anything to him about his gifts? I feel bad continuing to accept things that I throw away when I get home. -- Bad Presents, Laurel, Maryland
DEAR BAD PRESENTS: It is good to be honest in a tender way. You might tell this man you appreciate that he brings you gifts all the time, but it really isn’t necessary. Suggest you get to know each other better so you can figure out each other's interests. If he asks why, you can admit you don’t eat chocolate, even though it was a lovely thought. Don’t go down the list of all that you don’t like, though. Make it fun so you discover each other’s preferences. When you give him a gift, be sure it’s something you know he will like!