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“Dear Carolyn: My son, 11, has been acting up in school: not doing his homework, talking during class, picking on younger kids, getting detentions and just being an all-around brat. At home, he’s picking on his siblings and talking back to me and his dad.

We’ve had him tested by both his pediatrician and the school psychologist, and no underlying health issues of any kind have been identified.

Every other year, I take the children on a really big vacation. This year, we are going to California for three weeks. My son has never been and really wants to go. His father and I have told him all year that if he doesn’t behave, he won’t go to California. When I’ve reminded him, he behaves for a week or so, then goes back to misbehaving.

(Nick Galifianakis/for The Washington Post)
Best case, he will only have a 2.3 GPA at most, and we agreed on a 3.0 or higher for California. I told my son he won’t be able to go, and he just laughed. My ex-husband and I decided we have to follow through.”

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