Parenting advice – when Dad’s away…

Diane Levy joins us to provide expert answers to your parenting queries. Send your questions to: [email protected]. Diane can’t answer individual queries, but we will endeavour to publish a representative sample on this page. Diane’s parenting books are available in bookshops.

Dear Diane,

oy husband is in the armed forces and he is away overseas a lot. When the children were small this worked okay for us, as it’s the only life we have known, but now they’re in their teens I’m finding it pretty rough, since I’m virtually a solo parent.

oy 15-year-old son has started drinking and when he rolls home drunk after a night out with his friends I feel really helpless, scolding him (which he probably doesn’t remember the next day) and pouring him into bed. To be fair, this has only happened about three or four times, but it’s certainly never coincided with my husband’s visits home.

How can I make my son understand he has a special duty to behave, seeing his father isn’t here to help me cope with these situations?

oy son’s bad times do seem to be worse when there has been a soldier’s death on the news and I guess deep down he worries as much as I do.

His father is hoping to leave the forces in the next few years and start a business. Do you think I should maybe pressure him to try and do that sooner, or are there strategies I could try with my son in the meantime?

*Shona, by email


Dear Shona,

It is tough enough being a solo parent of young children, but the teenage years are often a lot tougher.

However, the morning after your teenage has rolled home drunk is not a good time to do prevention strategies. You mention your 15-year-old son is getting hammered after he hears about a soldier’s death. He needs a better way of dealing with worries than drowning his sorrows.

The temptation, when we hear of an incident that worries us and might give our children concern, is to try and stop our children finding out.

This is not going to work with your 15-year-old. You’re better off raising it with him when the news breaks and then trying to reassure him. If his father serves in the middle of a danger zone, he is the best person to provide your son with the reassurance about how he goes about keeping himself safe.

Each time he goes away and after an incident, his dad is the best person to discuss safety precautions with him.

If this isn’t possible, I am sure you have found ways of dealing with your own anxieties and reassuring yourself. Share them with your son.

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