St. Charles Herald-Guide

Ask Nattie

Nattie Swan - December 13, 2006

Nattie Swan is St. Charles Parishís best new advice columnist for kids and their parents. Let her help you. Send questions to

Iím afraid to tell mom I wrecked her Suburban

Dear Nattie: I got into a fender bender while driving my motherís Suburban SUV the other day, but I was afraid to tell her so I just parked it in the driveway without saying anything. The car I bumped into at a stop sign wasnít damaged at all, and the driver told me not to worry about it and didnít call the police. But momís front bumper was dented pretty bad and the turn signal was hanging down by a wire. I was going to tell her what happened eventually. But she jumped to the conclusion that someone where she works banged into her car in the parking lot and then just drove away without saying anything. Sheís even threating to call the police on them. Now Iím really afraid to tell her. How can I break the news without her yelling at me or grounding me for the whole Christmas vacation? – Worried in Ama

Dear Worried: I know how it feels to be grounded and I know it isnít fun, but you have to own up to your mistakes. All human beings make them, itís only natural! You have to tell her and you probably will be grounded and get yelled at, but itís better than her figuring things out on her own. Trust me!

How can I make my son open up and talk?

Dear Nattie: I have a 15-year-old son who has become distant from the family over the past several months. I know that most teenagers go through stages where they keep to themselves, but my son has always been very outgoing. He makes good grades in school and stays out of trouble, but it worries me that he wants to be in his room all of the time.
I was thinking that there may be something going on at school or with his friends that he doesnít want to talk to me about. How do I get him to open up to me without making him feel pressured? – Worried in Paradis

Dear Worried: It always feels like parents are pressuring you to do something. All teenagers feel that way. Your son may be distant to you these days simply because he wants some privacy. However, if you suspect there is more to it than that, I suggest you simply sit him down and talk. Donít try to make your talk seem like a BIG deal – make it as casual as possible while still letting him know you care. In that way, thereís a good chance heíll open up and you can come to terms.