Q: Your teenager tells you he doesn't like his name and would like to change it. You think it's a phase but don't want to shut him down. What do you say?
A: Stay calm and dig deeper to get him to open up. Ask, "How long have you been thinking about this?"
Ask, "What would your friends think?" You may discover that his friends are doing the same thing. Your son may be hesitant to tell you his reasoning, but giving his friends' point of view could feel like a safer way to do it.
Does he want just friends to use his new name, or everyone, including his grandmother and teachers? Does he want to make the change informally and merely have folks start calling him by a new name, or does he want to make it legal? Depending on his responses, you might feel like, "Oh, sure, go for it," or you may want to stall. If that's the case, thank your child for sharing, and tell him you'll run it by more people.
If he's really adamant, get into the "whys." It could be legitimate concerns, like being one of five Adams in his class, or maybe his name rhymes with something offensive and he's being bullied. Parents shouldn't overlook this.
MICHELE BORBA, author of "Unselfie: Why Empathetic Kids Succeed in Our All-About-Me World"
A: Most parents spent a lot of time thinking about what to name their children. We, as parents, are invested in this name, so to have your child say that he wants another name can feel really awful. Stay calm and try not to react or tell him it's a phase. It feels very real to your child.
Tell your child that money and a legal process are involved. Encourage him to look up the process, and if he does, discuss it with him. Many kids don't look into the process; they are just entertaining the idea as they draw into their own person. Sometimes shedding their given name is part of that process, even if the name change won't be permanent.
Give your child time to live with the name for a while before officially changing it. This way it isn't permanent, and it gives the child a sense of ownership.
ROBIN ELISE, author of "The Everything Guide to Raising Adolescent Boys"