Question: Our 7-year-old son recently stole two small model cars from a playmate while he was at the playmate’s house. Apparently, he wanted to trade one of his toys for the two cars, but the playmate refused, so he stole them. When we found them, he claimed his friend had given them to him. We absolutely know that’s not true, but ...Read more
The Portal. It sounds like something out of a science fiction novel, the gateway to an alternative universe that lures, then traps the unwary in its nefarious web of illusion, where things are never what they seem.
If the previous sentence sounded to you like Rod Sterling intoning the intro to “The Twilight Zone,” then you too are old ...Read more
Question: My normally happy 6-year-old son has recently started incorporating death and war-like games into his imaginative play. He isn't and has never been a mean-spirited child, but his dad and I just divorced (amicably), and I feel like he's having trouble dealing with it. For example, he has started telling me he feels stupid. Can ...Read more
I have good news for parents: You do not need more than a few tools in your disciplinary tool-bag. One especially valuable tool, one that belongs in every modern home, is the “Doctor.” The Doctor is akin to a genie – an invisible parenting sprite, so to speak – whom you invite to take up residence in your home. But it’s not like ...Read more
“What do you do when your baby cries?” I asked the 20-something new mom who was already feeling overwhelmed and beginning to slip into post-partum depression. Her mother-in-law had suggested she talk to someone and recommended yours truly.
“I pick him up,” she said.
“You always, when he cries, pick him up?” I asked.
“Yes, always...Read more
Question: We held off giving our oldest daughter a smart phone until she was fifteen, the age at which we allowed her older brother to have one. We read your column weekly in our hometown newspaper and know you disapprove but we had no issues with our son and thought, wrongly, that things would go equally well if not better with our daughter...Read more
As my regular readers know, I am a certified heretic in my field: child and family psychology. To the point, I am convinced that psychological parenting theory, which began to inform American child rearing in the late 1960s, has caused more problems than psychologists know how to solve.
I came to this conclusion in the early 1980s. I was in ...Read more
Question: I want to legally change our daughter’s name. No one pronounces it correctly and I think it’s going to cause her more problems as she gets older. My husband doesn’t want to, however. He says that changing it will confuse her. She’s nineteen months old, for crying out loud! If she’s confused for a week or two, so ...Read more
A New York writer named Jonathan Daniel Stern, writing in the August 7, 2019, issue of the e-zine “Fatherly,” laments that co-sleeping has destroyed his marriage. As best as I can figure, Stern and his ersatz wife are still married and live under the same roof, but the marriage is gone, kaput, sacrificed to the co-sleeping demon. She sleeps ...Read more
Proving, once again, that fact is stranger by far than fiction, a grandmother recently asked me what she should do about her daughter-in-law who, despite her husband’s increasingly meek objections, is determined to do everything possible to turn the first grandchild, a three-year-old girl, into the next Lady Gaga. Or Carrie Underwood. Let’s ...Read more
I’ve always promised myself that this column would never get “academic,” but I see now choice with respect to the issue at hand, so here goes…as simple as I can make it.
Fractional anisotrophy (FA) is a measure of connectivity in the brain. As such, it’s a reflection of cognitive aging as determined by the deterioration of white ...Read more
Question: A Christian (but very liberal) adoption agency recently turned down our application because they disapprove of our parenting approach, which is your parenting approach. We told them we subscribe to your philosophy and do things like sending the kids to bed early due to whining and tantrums. They said that was isolating and ...Read more
Short questions I’ve been asked of late (mostly by journalists) and proportionately short answers:
Q: Is there a single most important thing parents should be teaching during their children’s preschool years?
A: The most important thing parents should teach is proper manners. The second and third most important things ...Read more
Q: Some friends of ours who’ve read a couple of your books and attended one of your talks told us that they solved some major discipline problems with their 4-year-old just by using what they called alpha speech. They tried to explain it to us, but we’d like to get it straight from the horse’s mouth, so to speak. Would you please...Read more
As I crisscross the country in public speaker mode, I poll people in various demographic categories. I ask how they were raised, what their parents were like, how their parents disciplined, how they raised their own kids, their perceptions of how their kids are raising their grandkids, and so on. Most of the folks in question don’t have any ...Read more
My recent column pertaining to a 12-year-old who told his parents he’d thought about suicide several times over the past six months stirred a fair number of folks to respond. Feelings toward the column ranged from “many thanks” to “how interesting” to fear and loathing.
Said pre-teen was obviously well-adjusted. He enjoys several good...Read more
Question: We recently discovered that our 12-year-old has been visiting pornography sites of all sorts on the Internet. When we caught him red-handed, he began crying and said he is addicted. Apparently, a friend of his got him involved. Our son has assured us it’s not going to happen again, but we really don’t know how to handle ...Read more