My teenage daughters keep their wardrobes untidy and messy. Their main excuse is that they don’t have time to clean-up, as one is preparing for the class X board exams and the second for professional entrance exams. Should I insist on their tidying up or wait until their exams are over?
— Prameela Rao, Vijayawada
Time and task management are essential life skills which all children must develop. You should insist upon children maintaining minimum personal hygiene standards which include keeping their rooms and cupboards clean and tidy. They must also make time for exercise, follow meal timings and balanced diets. Don’t be too strict nor should you volunteer to do the tidying up yourself. Instead encourage them to manage their time more efficiently.
My husband’s mother lives with us. She is addicted to TV soaps. She begins binge-watching from 6:30 p.m until late night. My 14-year-old son plays video games on the television after school in the evening. He is allowed only 30 minutes of screen time every day. So there is always a clash between the two. With each insisting on their TV time, who should compromise?
— Ratna Parameshwaran, Vellore
It’s not about asking one person to compromise. Request your mother-in-law to skip one serial which is her least favourite. It will have the dual benefit of reducing her TV addiction and freeing the television set for your son. Also ensure that your son adheres to his 30-minute time limit.
My 17-year-old son has a steady girlfriend. Though he confides in me about his girlfriend, he is not comfortable disclosing this to his father who is very conservative. He has also asked me not to divulge this relationship status to his father. I feel guilty and am in a dilemma about keeping this secret from my husband? Please advise.
— Poornima Nair, Kochi
It’s wonderful that you share a good bond with your teenage son. It shows that he trusts you. Therefore if you share his relationship status with your husband without his knowledge, it would be a breach of trust and will affect your bond with him. Secondly, as your spouse is conservative, he might not readily accept the idea of your teenage son dating. You need to slowly prepare your husband by discussing the benefits of healthy interaction between the sexes and giving examples of other teenage children with girlfriends.
Two of my daughter’s school classmates (class V) have working mothers, and live in our apartment complex. As I am not working currently, I assemble the children in my flat and help them complete their homework. I have observed that one of them takes a disproportionate amount of time to finish his homework. Should I inform his parents and suggest they consult a psychologist?
— Asha Talwar, Mumbai
The parents should definitely consult with a psychiatrist/psychologist. It could be plain laziness or learning disability such as dyslexia. If the child is diagnosed with dyslexia, he will require professional help and intervention. Also, if the child is inattentive or too distracted while doing homework, it could be indicative of ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). This condition again requires medical intervention. A thorough examination and diagnosis is advised.
(Dr. Sagar Mundada is a consultant psychiatrist, Healthspring, Mumbai)