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Randi Rabin: Letting Teen Son Stay Out Late, and Adding ‘HaHaHa’ to Family Holiday Gatherings

Dear Feelings Doctor: My wife and I usually agree on most things; that is, except when it comes to the hours our 13-year-old son likes to keep. So maybe I'm a tad conservative, but I don't think that at 10:30 p.m. on a Saturday I should be driving my son and a friend over to a party that started at 8 p.m., let alone picking them up at almost 1 a.m.! He's only 13!

Am I not with the times here? Is that really OK?

— Split Decision in Santa Barbara

Dear S.D.: I understand your predicament and also want to share with you that more important than a curfew is knowing where your son is, who he is with and what they are doing. Curfews are necessary but not a substitute or replacement for hands-on parenting.

When you drop your son off at someone’s home at 10:30 p.m., do you know the parents? If so, then it is always a good idea to say hello, ask what time pickup is scheduled and know that your son is in really good hands. The teenage years are scary because of all the new territory that is being discovered in several different areas of the life.

What keeps our children protected from dangerous activities is dialogue and conversation. What stems from that is a wonderful, open, loving relationship.

Dear Feelings Doctor: I love the holidays, really. It's just that my family (and I'm sure no one else has this problem) always points out the things that I haven't changed, or the things that I have changed and shouldn’t have!

I can't win with my family, and I don't want to be a part of the crazy holiday this year. How can I show up and just have a good time?

— Holiday Humbug in Los Angeles

Dear Humbug: Sounds like you need to add some HaHaHa to your HoHoHo season for sure. I have been asked this question each and every year, and it can get easier — believe me.

If you decide to show up and be part of the festivities, do so with an open mind and celebrating on your mind. Otherwise, what’s the point? Sometimes our ongoing dynamics with our family of origin continues even after we have grown out of it. After the holidays, decide when the right time would be to have conversations regarding just what it is that has been on your mind — share who you are these days with your family, not who you used to be.

Telling some of the funny stories you all may remember together as a family lightens everyone’s heart. Never underestimate the power of laughter — even during the crazy times like holidays!

Got a question for The Feelings Doctor? Click here to submit a question anonymously.

                                                                        •        •

Imagine This ...

Nothing is permanent:
The sun and the moon rise and then set,
The bright clear day is followed by the deep, dark night.
From hour to hour, everything changes.
Worry about nothing, pray about everything.

— Psychotherapist Randi Rabin, M.A., MFTI, answers reader questions in her weekly Noozhawk column, The Feelings Doctor, and can be contacted at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). She received her bachelor’s degree in psychology from Antioch University Santa Barbara and completed her master’s degree in psychology at Pacifica Graduate Institute under the guidance of renowned psychologist Stephen Aizenstat, Pacifica’s chancellor and founding president. She has worked as a counselor with a number of local nonprofit organizations and schools. Click here for previous columns. The opinions expressed are her own.

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