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Annie’s mailbox: Give overweight son some positive reinforcement

SHARE Annie’s mailbox: Give overweight son some positive reinforcement

Dear Annie: I have two teenage sons. The oldest is very athletic and makes good grades. He will be graduating soon and leaving for college.

The problem is our youngest son. "Logan" is very intelligent but couldn't care less about his grades. Half the time, he doesn't turn in his homework. He refuses to study and generally hates school. He will lie about assignments and grades. We have nagged him, grounded him and taken away privileges, but nothing seems to matter.

Logan is also extremely overweight. We encourage him to exercise, but again, he ignores us. After his brother goes to school, I know he will quit the only team sport he has ever participated in.

Fortunately, Logan isn't involved in drinking or drugs. His friends are good kids, even though he doesn't have many. He spends most of his time at home, doing next to nothing. He helps out with chores when I ask, but he never volunteers.

When Logan was in middle school, we took him for counseling, but it didn't help. He came around for a couple of years on his own, but now things are worse than ever. Maybe we just didn't have the right counselor.

How do you motivate someone to make the right choices? At the rate he's going, he will be a lonely, overweight adult with no direction. Any advice? — Worried Mom

Dear Worried: Sometimes nagging and punishment don't work as well as encouragement and positive reinforcement. First take Logan to his doctor for a complete checkup to be sure there is no underlying medical issue. Then have him evaluated for hidden learning disabilities, since those can often cause a bright child to shut down in school.

Allow him to be more involved in his choices. Discuss why some foods will aid in the development of bone and muscle and others will make him feel sluggish. Make exercise a regular part of the entire family's routine — a bike ride, basketball pick-up game, bowling, rollerblading. And if his behavior is still troublesome, please get him back into counseling. Your pediatrician can refer you.

Dear Annie: For a long time, I've had feelings for "Stan." I know he also cared for me but would never have cheated on his wife, for which I greatly admired him.

Stan's wife recently passed away after a six-month illness. Should I contact him in some way, and if so, when? I don't want to appear insensitive, and I know he needs time to grieve. I want to be respectful. — Just Wondering

Dear Just: It is not disrespectful to send a note expressing your sympathy on his loss. Should he be interested in contacting you for anything more, he will do so. If you hear nothing after six weeks, you may call and ask how he's doing.

Dear Annie: Your advice to "Mom in the Middle" was way off the mark. She asked her boyfriend to move in with her after five months, and you said she was rushing the relationship.

People can and do develop relationships faster than you give them credit for. I met my spouse less than a year ago, he moved in less than a month after we met and we were married last November. Don't deny someone the pleasure of a loving partner on the grounds of not knowing him long enough. — Brandon

Dear Brandon: We don't deny that you can fall in love in a short time, and sometimes those relationships are successful over the long haul. We're glad it is working out for you. But "Mom" had a young teenager still living at home, and her first responsibility is to her child. It is unwise to bring someone into the household until everyone has a chance to know him better.

Annie's Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please e-mail your questions to anniesmailbox@comcast.net, or write to: Annie's Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 5777 W. Century Blvd., Ste. 700, Los Angeles, CA 90045.

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