Sandy Sez
Sandy Sez

Dear Sandy,
    My husband and I have two children. They are 12 and 15. Too often when we ask them questions, they respond with, “I don’t know.” This can be the answer to a simple question or a serious question. When we press a little further for a “real” answer, they continue with, “I don’t know.” Usually, it ends with us arguing. I am at a loss as to what to do to get an answer out of these kids!


Dear L.B.,
    I have a solution that is both effective and fun! You have to be a good actor and you have to do it consistently. When your children ask you or your husband a question, simply answer them with, “I don’t know.” It is critical that you:

  • Do not be facetious, animated or dramatic.
  • Answer as normally as you would if you really didn’t know what you were being asked.
  • Continue whatever activity you are doing when you are being asked something (i.e, sorting the mail).
  • No laughing or giving each other “high fives” between you and your husband. Eye contact or a wink will be sufficient
  • Do not elaborate beyond, “I don’t know.”
  • Do not explain what you are doing or why you are doing it.

So, let’s practice:
  • “Mom, can you take me to my friends house?” – “I don’t know.”
  • “What is for dinner?” – “I don’t know.”
  • “Can I get some fries with my burger?” – “I don’t know.”
  • “Where are you and Dad going?” – “We don’t know.”

    Don’t do this with every question they ask you, but do it often. Your children will understand pretty quickly. Let them feel the frustration of not getting information that they want or need just as you and your husband have been experiencing it. This exercise should not last long and your children will drop “I don’t know” as their standard response. Feel free to pick up the exercise again should their lackadaisical responses return.


Dear Sandy,
    I have really been struggling with my feelings about my daughter. I feel bad to even say the way that I feel about her, but I really want some help. I love my daughter, but I do not like her. She is almost 18 years old. She is disrespectful and believes she is entitled to whatever she wants and is lazy. I want a daughter who is respectful, humble and responsible. I thought I was raising her to be these things. I am a single mother.


Dear K.K.,
    Please know that your feelings are a normal and natural part of every relationship. It is difficult to raise a teenager. Part of the reason that the teenage years are so difficult is because the teenager is in-between childhood and adulthood. They want to be treated like a child when it comes to responsibilities and they want to be treated like an adult when it comes to privileges.
    If your child has displayed responsibility, humility and respect at other times in her life, she will very likely return to those values. You can let your daughter know that you love her but that you do not like her behaviors. She is old enough to hear this and understand this. Name her behaviors. Let her know that this is not what you expect from her. Let her know that one of the definitions of an adult is that they recognize that everything they do impacts other people. You can also speak to her about rights and responsibilities and that the reason adults have rights is because they have responsibilities. If she wants more rights she must accept more responsibility. It is important to do this in a calm time as a form of teaching and to remain consistent with this message.


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Published in the Jan/Feb 2012 edition of the Old Towne Orange Plaza Review

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