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Softies in Southfield

  • Posted on July 24, 2016 at 2:15 pm

Dear Christine,  I read your articles all the time and enjoy them.  They seem to be mostly about relationship issues but I have a question about parenting.  My partner and I have two children, a boy and a girl we had through a very good friend who was a surrogate for us.  The kids know her and know she is their biological mother.  That’s the background, here’s the question.  It’s about discipline.  The kids are at the pre-teen age and are starting to have typical issues of talking back and rebelling.  Our attempts at punishment generally include taking away their cell phones, grounding or not letting them do something they had planned.  The problem is, we are both too soft and usually give in.  I believe this is making the issues worse and the kids now can get away with just about anything.  So my question is, were we on the right track with the methods of punishment and how can we turn this around so the kids know we mean it and they might learn something?   Thanks, Softies in Southfield P.S. Although my partner and I do all the parenting, their biological mother is more like a close aunt and…

Used in Union Lake

  • Posted on October 25, 2015 at 10:00 am


Dear Christine,

How do I tell my best friend she needs to move out of my house?  She moved in about a year ago when she ran into some financial trouble. She said at the time that she would be out in 3 months tops.  She has no job and doesn’t seem interested in finding one.  She’s always working on some get rich quick scheme that she swears will pay off.   For a while I believed in her but now I’m thinking of her as a freeloader and I don’t want to feel that way about her.  I’m afraid that if I give her a deadline or ask her to move out that it will ruin our friendship and I really love her and don’t want to hurt her of be mean.   I’m a wimp and a pushover but I want my house back. 

Thanks, Used in Union Lake


Dear Used,
I’m not sure there’s much of a friendship left after she’s ignored your agreement and whatever hints you’ve been dropping for so long.  There are consequences for not meeting expectations in friendship, housing and jobs.  In college I learned it’s best not to be roommates with my best friend, as being in each other’s space, putting up with each other’s patterns and habits can destroy an otherwise wonderful friendship.  Anytime you give to a friend, it’s wise to set boundaries before they move in or receive a loan from you.  As Robert Frost said:  “Good fences make good neighbors.”

It’s time to have a direct conversation.  Tell her your expectations:  set a new timeline that feels reasonable and fair to both of you.  If she’s been getting her mail at your address and established residency, this could go all the way to an eviction, dragging the process out 6 months.  Hopefully, there’s enough friendship left for her to honor the deadline without having to involve the courts.  If she agrees to your demands but takes no initiative to get a job, save money, pay rent or look for another place, then be ready to back up your agreement with the eviction.

Good luck to you both.

Christine C. Cantrell, PhD