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Potential Football Injuries and Stealing a Candy Bar

Dr. Catherine Pearlman on

Dear Family Coach: I allowed my son to play high school football last year because he's a former soccer player, and the coach said he needed him to kick and punt. I was comfortable with that, and he had a great time. This year, however, the coach wants him to be the backup quarterback. My son is thrilled, of course. Football terrifies me because of the roughness and potential for long-term injuries like concussions. Would it be cruel to say no? -- Cautious

Dear Cautious: I have a strong opinion here. Too many parents blindly sign their kids up for football without a moment's thought to the high potential for irreparable injury. A recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association reported that 110 out of 111 former NFL players whose brains were donated to scientific research after death had chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, a fancy name for brain damage. While evidence is mounting about the impact on younger players, the same study reported that 21 percent of high school players and 91 percent of college players also showed CTE.

Here's the problem with CTE: It's permanent, and the effects of the damage aren't seen for many years. Maybe the research is wrong. Maybe it's a self-selected sample. But what if it isn't? Parents are hypervigilant now about sunscreen because it's been well-established that excessive exposure to the sun's rays in childhood causes an increased risk of skin cancer in adulthood. But years ago, the sun's damage potential was murky, too. I'm not going to wait for the rest of the evidence to fall into place. I'd protect my kid now while I still had a chance.

I think you should trust your instincts here or risk painful regret later. I'm sure your son will be pretty miffed at your decision. Still, I wouldn't give in. Sometimes parents need to make upsetting choices for their kids. It isn't easy going against their wishes. Yet that's parenting.

Dear Family Coach: The other day, my 10-year-old son walked to a nearby market for me to pick up some groceries. When he came back, he had everything on my list as well as a Nestle Crunch bar. When I asked him about it, he said the clerk told him to take it for free. On the one hand, I can't believe he stole. On the other hand, what store gives out free candy bars? How should I handle this without making matters worse? -- Crunched

Dear Crunched: I'd start the investigation with your son. Usually, 10-year-olds aren't experts in lying. There's always a tell. I'm guessing a few additional questions will show whether or not your son is telling the whole truth.

If you discover your son in fact did steal the bar and lie to you, calmly walk him back to the store. Before heading inside, instruct your son that he must go back up to the clerk and apologize for stealing the candy. He should pay the store back as well. If he doesn't have money, then tell him to ask the clerk what he can do to pay the store back. Let him stock or bag for an afternoon if they'll let him. This experience will likely be highly unpleasant and should serve as a deterrent from stealing in the future.

When initially probing your son, if he doesn't show any signs of dishonesty, you could always go to the store and ask the clerk. However, I'd probably just assume he's being truthful.

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Dr. Catherine Pearlman, the founder of The Family Coach, LLC, advises parents on all matters of child rearing. To write to Dr. Pearlman, send her an email at questions@thefamilycoach.com. To find out more about Dr. Catherine Pearlman and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

Copyright 2017 Creators Syndicate Inc.
 

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