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
Question: My 13-year-old son has developed overwhelming anxiety about going to school. This began a year ago, but has gotten steadily worse since then. At this point, he fights me every morning about going to school, and even if I can persuade him to get in the car, he won't get out. If I try to force him, he becomes nearly hysterical. I'...Read more
Equality under the law is a uniquely American principle, one that no freedom-loving person would oppose, but the manner in which said principle is currently applied to the issue of child custody treats children as property, like pieces of furniture or bank accounts, rather than human beings with rights of their own, including the right to stable...Read more
First, a full disclosure: I have been vaccinated against measles, mumps, diphtheria, rubella, whooping cough, smallpox, and shingles and have had none of these maladies. At one time or another, my wife received all of these same vaccinations. Our kids were both immunized, and they have chosen to have their kids immunized. None of us has ever had...Read more
Question: My twin boys just turned 13 and are demanding—that is the right word—later curfews. They tell us that their curfew, which is 8:30 on nights when there is no school the next day, is “pitiful.” We live in an area where there’s nothing for kids that age to do in the evenings but hang out in small groups or go to one ...Read more
My column of a few weeks back in which I described real-life parenting scenarios that qualified the parents in question for a diagnosis of “just plain nuts” was a big hit. Since it ran, readers have sent me numerous examples of parents who indeed seem to qualify as JPN and be in need, therefore, of You Ought to be Ashamed of Yourself Therapy...Read more
Question: How do you stop tantrums in a 3-year-old? My daughter never went through the “terrible twos,” but began throwing wild tantrums shortly after her third birthday. This coincided with the birth of a sibling, a boy, but she’s very affectionate and helpful toward him so I don’t know if there’s any connection. I’ve tried ...Read more
Proposed: The primary reason so many of today’s mothers are so very stressed by child rearing—something their grandmothers, for the most part, approached fairly nonchalantly—is because they do something their grandmothers did not do: they read parenting columns, magazines, and books. And yes, I’m well aware of the irony here.
Men, with ...Read more
A reader writes that her friends “recently spent around $300 on their daughter’s birthday party -- her first. They bought lots of stuff to entertain their young guests and extended family. The child, a baby, obviously had no clue what was going on. I should mention that the parents are struggling to make ends meet.” She asks for my take on...Read more