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Ask Ellie: Boundary-testing tween needs parents' support

Some kids sail on through adolescence and puberty, but many have bumps and bruises along the way (figuratively speaking)

Dear Lisi: My tween-age daughter is giving me a hard time. It started in the summer, but it’s seeping into the school year. I should’ve asked for help earlier.

She spent a week at a sleepover camp. It was mainly subsidized, but still slightly more expensive than a city day camp. She had begged to go so we made it work.

On day three, we received a call that she had “mistakenly” gone somewhere she shouldn’t have, and been reprimanded. No punishment, just a warning, but they were calling to let us know. Their protocol.

On day five, we got a call that she really wanted to stay another week. We weren’t surprised as we’d heard that happens often. We’d planned accordingly, so agreed.

On day two of that week, we got a call that a group of kids had snuck out of their cabin at night, and gone to the kitchen for some clandestine ice cream.

Because it was her second “misdemeanor” she was given a consequence, and missed a special program the following day. A few days later, she again wanted to extend. We said no and brought her home.

She was mopey and sullen for a few days, but we then went on a family vacation and she was back to her happy self. Now the summer is over, school has started and we’ve already received a call from the principal’s office.

Who is this child and why is she having Terrible Twos at 12????

Exasperated Dad

I feel your pain. Children can be exactly as you described your mood — exasperating! When my brother was a young teen, he used to irritate our family with his default statement: “I can do (insert whatever stunt he’d just pulled) because I’m 14!”

It was 365 days of shaking our heads in disbelief. Luckily, he was just annoying and not causing any major disturbance.

In your case, it sounds like your daughter is going through the dreaded years of adolescence and puberty. Some kids sail on through, but many have bumps and bruises along the way (figuratively speaking).

Take your daughter out for a special treat. Nothing too expensive or fancy, but perhaps a Dad-Daughter date for ice cream and a walk. Use it as a chance to discuss the ice cream escapade at camp in a light-hearted way. Ask who spearheaded the expedition, if it was fun, if it was worth the consequence, etc. Find out where she’s at, her thoughts, etc. Maybe it was her way of communicating with you.

Dear Lisi: My neighbour is having an affair and flaunting it in my face. I’m not sure why she wants me to know so badly, but she does. She and her husband leave for work around the same time every morning. I know because I’m out walking my dog.

Several times a week, in the afternoon when I’m returning from another dog walk, she’s in the backyard, playing loud music and drinking with a male friend. They’re often dancing, kissing and laughing loudly.

We’ve been neighbours for years, so we know each other’s routines. My point is, I know she wants me to know.

What do I do?

Not-nosy neighbour

Okay, so now you know. But you’re not friends, so it’s not your business. And as much as you and I don’t like what she’s doing, it’s not your place to blow the whistle on her.

If possible, change your afternoon routine slightly. If you see her frolicking, extend your walk, or go in another door. Don’t engage and don’t give her the satisfaction of knowing you saw her.

She and her husband will either work things out, or she’ll get caught, or she’ll give up the affair. Either way, stay out of it.

Readers Commentary regarding the husband suspected of having an emotional affair (Aug. 23):

“This column clearly hit a note. I came down for breakfast and my husband hugged me tight and asked if I thought he was having an affair. I didn’t know what he was talking about!

“He went on to apologize for being so grumpy lately and asked if we could go on a date later that afternoon. He wanted to talk to me about some things going on at work.

“Turns out he was hoping for a promotion while working on a big deal that never materialized. He hadn’t told me about either because he didn’t want to get his hopes up. But now he was feeling very deflated.

“Thanks for giving my husband the freedom to open up to me and help our relationship through helping others.”

Lisi – Glad I could help!

Ellie Tesher and Lisi Tesher are advice columnists for the Star and based in Toronto. Send your relationship questions via email: [email protected].