Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Parent Concerned About Daughter's Posts

DEAR HARRIETTE: My 14-year-old daughter is very active on social media. Snapchat is her medium of choice. I’m on Facebook and Instagram but not Snapchat. I recently learned that she and her girlfriends have been posting photos of themselves asking if they are cute. My “source” told me some of the posts are mean about other people, and some are kind.

I am concerned my daughter is getting caught up in appearances as well as in how other people perceive her. How can I help her continue to cultivate positive self-esteem when she is already questioning her attractiveness in a social media space? -- Cultivating Self-Esteem, Los Angeles

DEAR CULTIVATING SELF-ESTEEM: The good news is that you have a source you can trust to help you figure out what your daughter is doing. As hard as you may try, you will likely not be able to stay on top of which media outlets attract your daughter’s and her friends’ attention.

I recommend that you not reveal your source. Instead, keep that person in place to monitor your daughter’s communications. With your daughter, work to keep a level of confidence in your relationship. If you can create a safe space where the two of you talk about life, friendships, boys -- everything -- you will have a better chance of influencing her decisions. FYI: Taking away her phone or banning her from social media would only be a temporary fix. Trust is a much stronger force in guiding your daughter’s steps.

Mom Must Control Sons' Gaming Habits

DEAR HARRIETTE: My sons have been captivated by video games since they were little. They are now in high school, but the fascination hasn’t waned. My oldest boy just used a gift card to buy a video game. I got notice it had arrived at the store. I will pick it up, but I don’t want to give it to him yet. Even though he bought it with his “own” money, he has not started off strong at school. I want to make sure he is focusing on his schoolwork. Giving him a new video game this soon into the semester does not seem like a good idea. How do I withhold it from him considering he “bought” it? -- School First, Games Second, Baltimore

DEAR SCHOOL FIRST, GAMES SECOND: Make parameters for when your sons can play video games that include their homework schedules. Before they push back, establish the rules and explain why you have made them: namely, that there are too many distractions out there for them to stay the course at school without supervision from you. Being able to play video games, including new ones, is contingent upon them completing their work.

It doesn’t matter who made the purchase; you remain the parent. Enforce your rules by stating them and explaining that when they are followed, your sons get incentives, such as the new game that’s waiting for them.