DEAR HARRIETTE: My son has been rebellious and unreliable for years now, and it stresses me out to interact with him. He is 19 years old and leaving for his second year of college soon. I want to be a better parent, and I think I need to change my parenting strategy. I gave him too much freedom growing up, and now I want to find ways to discipline him, but it is difficult because he is older. What measures can I take? -- Too Late
DEAR TOO LATE: The best thing you can do is have a frank discussion with your son where you tell him what you think about his behavior and where you believe it is leading him. Apologize for being too lenient with him when he was younger. Point out specific behaviors you have witnessed that have not served him well, but also point out anything good and hopeful about him that you can muster.
Tell him what you want for him and his life, and recommend that he get focused so that he can accomplish his goals. Remind him that he is independent now. Make it clear that you want to help him in any way that you can, but now is the time for him to help himself.
(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to email@example.com or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)