Question: We just discovered that our 17-year-old is using nicotine. He tells us he’s been using for the past several months, smoking two to four cigarettes a day to cope with academic anxiety and relationships. He tends to be socially reserved and has been struggling with academics of late. He appears contrite and remorseful and has ...Read more
Q: My 24-month-old is constantly wanting to be in her newborn baby brother’s face, poking and touching him. How can I help her with her jealousy?
A: Unless there’s more going on here than you’re telling me, you’re not describing jealousy; you’re describing natural curiosity and rather clumsy attempts to have ...Read more
Question: Our 8-year-old daughter tries to manipulate us and her siblings (she is the youngest of three) with emotional outbursts and whining when things don’t go her way. She is mostly a delightful, cheerful child but this bothersome cycle flares up at least every other day. For the time being at least, she only behaves this way at ...Read more
Two months ago, I conducted a two-day small-group “parent retreat” during which I talked about, among other things, the legitimacy and power of “because I said so.” One of my missions is to promote the restoration of the attitude that accompanies the calm, straightforward (the operative conditions) delivery of that traditional parenting ...Read more
Question: Our 14-year-old daughter has difficulty controlling her anger. She has extreme outbursts fairly frequently here at home—screaming, cursing, and even throwing things when she doesn’t get her way. She appears to have no respect for us and very little consideration for her two younger siblings. At school and in other people’s...Read more
My mother was a most unusual woman for her generation. She divorced my father when I was three, went to college and eventually obtained a Ph.D. in plant morphology when women were not heartily welcomed by the nearly all-male faculties of university science programs. She also taught at the university level, and was well-published in her field. I ...Read more
Question: We have two children, ages 9 and 5, and are considering adopting a third, perhaps an older child, even a teenager. Do you have any advice for us?
Answer: Do I ever, beginning with a caution against believing what you are told by adoption specialists about the supposed vulnerability of adopted children to all manner of psychological ...Read more
Q: My husband and I need your advice. We are parents to one adult daughter who has three children ages 10, 7, and 4. They live about three hours away and up until two years ago we saw them fairly often. Our visits were often very uncomfortable, however, because she and her husband do not discipline the children. As a consequence, they are...Read more
A major US newspaper recently ran a piece detailing all the ways children benefit from doing chores. Well, not all the ways. They failed to mention the most important benefit: chores, properly managed, teach citizenship values.
“Properly managed” means children are not compensated monetarily for doing chores. Another parenting pundit once ...Read more
A list of some of the more memorable elements of pre-1960s parenting is in constant circulation on the Internet and is especially popular with people my age who can for obvious reasons relate. The items include that we drank from garden hoses and survived, didn’t wear bike helmets and survived, could only take a test once and never had to see ...Read more
Question: Our son is going to be 13 next year and we’re trying to be proactive about the coming storm. He’s been a good kid and relatively easy to raise to this point, but we’ve heard the horror stories and dread what may be around the corner. Do you have any tips?
Answer: The notion that biological changes going on during...Read more
Q: Why is it that no consequence seems to work for long, if at all, with my very strong-willed 7-year-old daughter? I have tried everything I’ve ever heard or read about to deal with her constant disobedience and disrespect. Some things, like taking away her computer privileges for a day or so, have worked for maybe a week at most, then...Read more
One of the signs of these confused and confusing times we live in is that facts don’t matter. What matters are feelings and opinions, which are often confused and confusing. According to another author friend, this is the primary feature of post-post-modernity.
It’s a fact, for instance, that several reputable studies (some of which are ...Read more
I’ve asked the men in several recent audiences to raise hands if they believe moms stress out concerning their children at least five times more than dads. All the men’s hands went up to general laughter.
I then asked the women to raise hands if they agreed with the men. All the women’s hands went up, again to general laughter.
Question: Our 7-year-old is very shy. He doesn’t enjoy the sort of social activities, including sports, that other kids his age are generally involved in and would rather play alone. He has one friend who is also quite shy. His mother and I have conspired to arrange weekly play dates, but whereas the boys get along fine, both kids ...Read more
Today’s parents tend to worry about all manner of things that deserve not even second thoughts. Imaginary friends, for example. I’ve been asked many times by mothers if they should worry that their preschoolers have imaginary friends they seem to think and in some cases even insist are real.
I’m not aware of any specific research on the ...Read more
Question: About six months ago, our four-year old daughter began complaining of being afraid to be alone at bedtime. Upon questioning, she told us she was afraid of monsters in her closet and under her bed. We were unable to convince her otherwise. In fact, the more we talked to her, the more her fears grew to the point where she was ...Read more
In the 1960s, child and teen mental health and behavior problems began an alarming rise that has continued to the present. In 1970, one of my grad school professors proposed that this trend could be explained with the flight-or-fight principle (i.e. in response to perceived threat, a person is inclined to either flee or stand and fight).
He ...Read more