Need Advice?

In her column for UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center, coach Christine Carter responds to your questions about marriage, parenting, happiness, work, family, and, well, life.

Want to submit a question? Email [email protected].


Dear Christine: What If I Don’t Agree With My Co-Parent?

August 19, 2020

Trying to get your co-parent to parent your way? Here’s what to do. Dear Christine, What should I do if my husband and I don’t agree about family rules? For example, I really want to establish your no-phones-in-the-car rule, but my husband won’t enforce it. He often lets our kids use their phones when he is driving (or pretends not to notice that their phones are out). And when we are all in the car… Read more

My Kids Have Nothing to Do This Summer. Now What?

June 19, 2020

This Dear Christine column offers tips for structuring your family’s summer during the pandemic. Dear Christine, Since school ended, my whole family is floundering. We have no summer plans. I’m feeling some pressure to make up for “COVID slump,” but I haven’t a clue how to do so. Neither of my teenagers has summer jobs or internships, and neither is interested in taking an online class. We need to find a purpose this summer—all of… Read more

How Divorced Parents Can Get on the Same Page

April 1, 2020

Dear Christine, I’m a divorced dad who remarried, with a son and a stepdaughter. When shelter-in-place hit and school was canceled, everything changed. We all started working at home—or not working at all. Though we have successfully established a new custody schedule so that there is less back-and-forth between houses, we still have a lot of conflicts. We don’t agree about whether it’s okay to go outside, who can enter the other parents’ homes, or… Read more

Dear Christine: How Do I Motivate My Teen?

January 29, 2020

Bossing them around won’t work forever; we need to help teens manage their own lives. Dear Christine, I have two teenagers, a boy who is in high school and a girl who is in college. My daughter has always been self-motivated and a great student. I’ve never needed to nag her to do her homework, and she has always gotten good grades and great teacher comments. My son is another story. His study skills are… Read more

Dear Christine: My Friend Has Cancer. What Should I Say?

October 16, 2019

Dear Christine, One of my best friends was just diagnosed with a very aggressive cancer. She has two little kids, a loving husband, and a full-time job. I’m not sure what to do or say or how I can help—my instinct is to jump in and start problem-solving. Does she have the best doctor? Can she really afford to take time off of work? I know she knows that this could be terminal. She is… Read more

Dear Christine: My Son Went Off to College and I Want to Cry

August 29, 2019

Dear Christine, My oldest child is off to college. In the last few weeks, relatives have been offering him their sage “how to succeed in college” advice. Friends keep sending me an article from the New York Times offering advice to college freshmen: “Don’t take other people’s Adderall. Granola bars have a lot of sugar. The stamp goes in the upper right-hand corner of the envelope.” Really? All of this is entertaining, but isn’t it all too… Read more

Dear Christine: How Can I Get My Teenager to Listen to Me?

July 25, 2019

Dear Christine, My daughter has a chronic health problem that we’ve been dealing with since she was almost three years old. Until very recently, I managed everything about her illness for her: appointments, medications, decision making around treatment, etc. She’s always been interested in learning more about her disease, and she’s been a compliant patient. But now that she is a teenager, she needs to be more in charge of herself, and more involved in… Read more

Dear Christine: How Can I Get More Sleep?

June 17, 2019

Hi Christine, I have a habit of going to bed later than I want and then being rushed in the morning and getting to work late. For several years now, I’ve been wanting to get to bed earlier, but I can’t seem to do it. I have a tendency to feel pretty driven and busy during the day, and the evening feels like my only time to relax. I binge-watch Netflix, scroll through my social… Read more

Dear Christine How Can I help my stressed-out teen?

Helping Stressed-Out Teens

May 13, 2019

Dear Christine, I know you have teenage daughters around the same age, so I’m hoping you have some insight about how to help kids deal with stress. My youngest daughter has always been confident, gregarious, and goal-oriented. But starting in her sophomore year in high school, she’s not been herself. She’s stressed and bitchy with us, and suffers from general malaise. She’s had a lot of stomachaches and headaches and was even experiencing hair loss,… Read more

Substance Abuse Photo by Hayes Potter on Unsplash

Dear Christine: How Do I Deal with My Son’s Substance Abuse?

April 20, 2019

Concerned parents confront the fact that their son may be addicted to drugs and alcohol. Dear Christine, We are writing you about our son, who is in his second year of undergraduate study. He has found his niche in the Greek system, and it is something he is passionate about. He loves the people and the camaraderie. What is worrisome to us is that along with his entrance into the Greek system, his use of… Read more