Ask Dr. Mike: Teen's Winter Shorts — Being Cool (and Cold) at 13
Plus, earring exchange drama and are all men dogs?
Being Miserable But Cool At 13
Q. My 13-year-old son is driving me crazy with his wearing shorts in the middle of winter – even on the coldest day a couple of weeks ago! He also doesn’t wear coats or jackets, but he finally agreed to wear a hoodie to please me. He tells me that he’s not cold and to leave him alone, but I am fuming every time he heads to the bus stop in his shorts. We have had some pretty horrible fights over the topic, and yet he continues to defy us as parents. It’s stupid and not safe. Help!
A. I understand your frustration, but being miserable but cool is part of being a teenager. Actually, the behavior you are concerned about, and the need to be cool, starts in middle school when self-awareness in identity formation begins to kicks in.
Try to think of it this way. Your son is not defying you as much as he is separating. Consciously, he tells you that he is not cold, and he thinks he looks cool, but the behavior itself is really being fueled by his developmental need to separate from what you want of him and for him to begin to make decisions for himself alongside his peers.
So, what should you do? Nothing. Let your son make the decision on shorts or coats. It is his body, and at 13, he needs to be in charge of it. Life and peer relations will teach him what works and what does not, and he will adjust accordingly.
Are All Men Dogs?
Q. I am a divorced woman who is finally ready to date again. My friends convinced me to join a dating site, and I have gone on several dates now from the site. My dates all seemed to be gentleman at first but then turn out to be dogs! I’ve been wined and dined at the area’s best restaurants but at the end of every date, I’ve had these guys all come on too strong for my comfort level. I’ve decided to take a break from online dating and maybe even from men again! I admit that I’ve been out of the dating scene for many years, so maybe I’m just old fashioned and this is just how things are now. Your thoughts are appreciated.
A. As human beings we are sexual beings, however, all men are not dogs! While you may have gone out with a couple of jerks, it is also possible for you to correct your dynamic and outcome with a few simple changes.
First, I recommend that you do not go out to dinner or drink alcohol on a first date. The evening and a fancy dinner make for an intimate setting, and a first date is too early to foster intimacy. On top of that, alcohol lowers one’s inhibitions, so whatever you or he may be thinking or feeling may come out more freely in conversation. Instead, I recommend meeting for coffee or lunch – you want to keep the first date simple, casual and time limited.
If there is mutual chemistry and an interest to meet again, you can always step things up slowly. Second, I also recommend taking another look at your online profile, and you might even consider having a friend or two help with this.
First impressions can mean a lot, and perhaps there is something that you are revealing through your photos or biography or interests in a partner that is misleading. Thus, I urge you to stay away from photos that could be perceived as being too suggestive or sexy. You also might just want to emphasize your values and morals and your intentions in dating in your write-up.
Third, if you are truly fed up with online dating, I recommend looking into affinity groups where you can meet like-minded men with like-minded values and morals and similar interests. Meetup.com is an excellent resource for singles.
It’s The Thought That Counts, But Not When It Comes To Ugly Earrings
Q. My husband bought me a very expensive but very ugly pair of earrings for Christmas that just aren’t’ me. I decided to take them back to the jeweler to buy something that I really love, and now my husband is angry. I guess I can see the point that it was his gift to me and now I’ve turned it into my gift for me, but the earrings weren’t my taste at all. I thought he’d want me to like what I wear, but I guess this is more about him than the gift? Got any advice on how to make my angry husband love me again?
A. First of all, keep in mind that your husband’s gift was thoughtful and loving. He could have insensitively bought you power tools or a new vacuum! We, as husbands, are fully capable of doing dumb things like that for our wives.
You write that “this is more about him than the gift” but your actions, in response to his gift, caused the turmoil. Certainly you have a right to your feelings, but it seems that your communication (or lack there of) is the real problem. And while your husband is angry, I think you should consider that his anger is probably secondary to his feeling hurt. For now, I recommend doing some damage control by apologizing for not speaking to him first about your wanting to exchange his gift for another.
I would also acknowledge his thoughtfulness and generosity with emphasis on the issue being solely about personal taste. With care and time, he should likely come around to the idea that you did not want to have something so expensive and nice that you would not want to wear.
Moving forward, however, I recommend communicating better with your gift purchases since there will be many more gifts to give and receive in your marriage. You might also consider creating short wish lists for each other prior to special occasions. Yes, with this approach the gift you or he opens will be less of a surprise, but you will also both avoid more unpleasant earring moments.
Dr. Michael Oberschneider is the founder and director of Ashburn Psychological and Psychiatric Services. Send questions firstname.lastname@example.org.