Noting that October is Bullying Prevention Month, several editors have asked if I am willing to write an apropos column. I am and for two reasons feel eminently qualified to do so.
My first qualification is that I was bullied as a youngster. It began in the fifth grade with George K. He would run me down, wrestle me to the ground, ...Read more
Q: Dinner with our three kids always, and I mean ALWAYS, turns into a disaster. Typically, the oldest, 11, begins to needle the youngest, 6, and then, when the middle one, 9, figures out which of them is winning, he jumps in on that side. We've yelled, sent the instigator from the table so we can restore a semblance of order, not ...Read more
In 1971, a psychologist named Fitzhugh Dodson published a book titled How to Parent. It did so well that he came out several years later with How to Father. By 1971, Dodson was one of a handful, if that, of child-rearing traditionalists left in psychology, but his titles were quite progressive. In short order, parent and parenting became verbs, ...Read more
In the late 1960s, America came to a fork in the parenting road and took the road never traveled. My generation did what no generation in any culture at any time in history had ever done: we broke with the parenting traditions of our foremothers and forefathers. When the time came, we refused to take the well-worn parenting baton and carry it ...Read more
Question: Over the past year or so, our 5-year-old has developed an extreme fear of going to the doctor or dentist. This came on suddenly, without a precipitating incident. The crying begins when we arrive at the appointment. When the doctor or nurse tries to examine him, he goes bonkers—screaming, hitting, kicking. He has to be held ...Read more
Amanda Johnson, a second-grade teacher in Laramie, Wyoming, has caused quite a stir both among her colleagues and constituents and—because her educational incorrectness was covered by national media—across the USA. Her claim to fifteen minutes of fame: Citing research purporting to show that homework does not improve overall achievement, Ms....Read more
Just when I am teetering on the edge of despair concerning the state of child rearing in America, dwelling much, much too obsessively on the damage being done to children and the nation by parents who won't allow their children to take full responsibility for themselves, a little beam of light finds its way through the darkness and rekindles my ...Read more
Question: Our sixth-grade son has always been an excellent math student. This year, however, he melts down every time he does math homework. Within minutes, he becomes highly agitated, begins crying, and says it’s too hard and he can’t do it. We spoke with his teacher who says that he’s having no problem in class. She had no ...Read more
H.A.L.F.: The Deep BeneathNatalie Wright
H.A.L.F. #9 is the product of genetic engineering. Created to be a weapon in a secret war we don't know is coming, he proved too powerful to control. He has lived for seventeen years in an underground lab, sedated and trained to be a cold-blooded killing machine....
Question: In a recent column, you advise that stepparents have complete disciplinary authority over all children who live in or visit the home, but do you feel the same policy should apply when the stepparent joins the family when the kids are teenagers instead of younger children?
Answer: Your question is of great importance...Read more
Question: We are looking for a private school for our 4-year-old. Regardless of the school we ultimately choose, we want to keep him there through eighth grade at least. We live in an suburban area so we have a lot of options to choose from. Our son is intelligent, creative, and very imaginative. Do you have a recommendation?
Answer: ...Read more
Greg Fulton thinks his teenage daughter, who's already hit three solid objects with her car -- thankfully, no humans or other moving vehicles included -- would do better with a car that comes equipped with blind-spot/lane-change alert (notifies driver when another vehicle is approaching on either side), lane assist (gently guides car, if it ...Read more
Question: Our son is a rising second-grader at a private school. Last year, his behavior was often disruptive and sometimes even downright defiant—problems his first grade teacher did not have with him. At home, we have no more than typical “boyishness” — nothing approaching serious. Nonetheless, at the school’s request we ...Read more
The Wall Street Journal recently interviewed Daniel Eddy, a New York City chef, on how to have a mutually-successful experience with a young child in an upscale restaurant (“How to Take Your Kids Out to Eat and Actually Enjoy the Experience,” July 14, 2016). WSJ obviously thinks the fact that being a chef qualifies one as an expert the ...Read more
One of the more powerful parenting memes to emerge from the parenting revolution of the late ‘60s and early ‘70s was “Children deserve reasons.” To large degree, that was a reaction to the previous parental policy of answering “Why? and “Why not?” with “Because I said so.”
To my knowledge, no one has ever explained in non-...Read more
Question: What can we reasonably expect of our 18-year-old daughter when she comes home on weekends from her summer job? She usually heads straight to her boyfriend's family’s home and rolls in around 3 a.m. on Friday and Saturday night. We'd love to have a family meal with her. Do we say, "Dinner is at 6 o’clock and it would mean a ...Read more
Question: My 8-year-old daughter is having anxiety issues that seem to border on obsessive-compulsive disorder. She wants me to repeat certain things back to her and has a set routine of things I must say when I’m tucking her into bed. She’s genuinely upset by all this and tells me she thinks there’s something wrong with her. I’d ...Read more