Q: Dear WholeFamily Counselor, I was reading your article, Making the Punishment Fit the Crime and it makes absolute sense. I have a situation however that I need help with, maybe you would have a suggestion? I have a five-year- rambunctious boy. He is very active, although he is not hyperactive or ADD. We refer to him as Dennis the Menace, because of the trouble he is constantly getting into. He does things that I would never imagine. How he thinks up this stuff really bothers me. Last night was the ultimate. I was talking to my mother on the phone in the Living Room and had been on the phone for about five or so minutes when I heard the smoke alarm going off. I immediately ran to his room and found him standing on the stairs screaming with a tea towel up in flames on the carpet.
Q: We got cable television a month ago and my two teenage daughters seem addicted to MTV. I see their behavior deteriorating. They have no motivation to do anything else and they seem more tense. Is the extra television watching the cause of this? A: Guest Expert, Anat First, PhD, answers: Unfortunately, I can't give a clear-cut answer to your question. Researchers are divided on this issue. Some claim that television is the most important factor in our media culture; that many of our images and much of what we learn and know comes from our media environment. They say that television has a great influence on those who watch it. Others say there is no influence from above, as it were; that everything depends on what the consumer does with what he sees or hears.
It makes me so sad that our 15-year-old son shows no respect for either his mother or me. In fact, he laughs off any person of responsibility - teachers, coaches, etc. It is very confusing for me as we have always given him the material and moral support he has demanded. Yet he doesn't seem to appreciate this at all. His impudence is so extreme that he even mocks us in front of our friends. We have tried to explain to him that his behavior is unreasonable but he laughs us off, telling us that we're old and don't know anything. How do we deal with him? A I believe that your indulgence towards your son is the direct cause of his arrogant disrespect.
Dear WholeMom, I feel it's never too late to train my biological kids to pick up, although I have always taught them to pick up after themselves since they've been little. They usually do what I say. When my 16-year-old non-custodial son stays with me over the weekend, he always cleans his room before he leaves without my asking. My stepson is a different matter. He must have always been very sloppy and gets away with it, especially at his mother's house. When he comes to stay with us, he brings his sloppy habits with him and when I or his dad ask him to clean up, he usually does not do it. His room is a disaster area. (Even his mom commented on the mess!) I am at a loss over what to do! I feel as if there are two different standards for my two children and my stepson.
This drama illustrates a typical situation in marriage. Both partners are absolutely right. Yet neither one can acknowledge the other's point of view.
Andrea is 100% correct. You can't be successful in life unless you're focused and are able to delay your gratification. You've got to know how to say, "No." That's what discipline is and it's the job of a parent to help his kid understand that.
On the other hand, Ron's also right. There's too much emphasis on work and productivity in our culture. We have forgotten how to make time for friends, for family and for ourselves. We are a society of driven people who have sacrificed home and family for the marketplace.
Their challenge as a couple is to learn how to reconcile their differences so that they can teach their son how to integrate a life of friendship, play and entertainment with discipline, achievement and productivity.
How can Ron and Andrea learn to hear each other's point of view?
What do you think is their real point of difference?
Dear WholeFamily Counselor, Hi. I have a 16-year-old that is very resentful and never wants to do anything or go anywhere with me. I've tried forcing her to go to counseling and she refuses to go. She is okay at times but when I ask her to do chores around the house she mumbles under her breath and then proceeds to do whatever I asked her to do. She wakes up in the morning with the nastiest attitude. Many times I just want her to just go live with her father so that she can see how good I really am to her. I pray that someday she will be a happier person. A You are going through what millions of parents of teenagers go through every day.
Exclusive to WholeFamily.... QDear Dr. Sylvia I'm having a hard time with my twelve-year-old son. School has been in session for about two months, and he has five F's right now. He will not do school work or homework. He has already been suspended from school for three days because he took a bullet to school. He lies all the time. He hits his sisters a lot. I am a single parent, and I don't know what to do with him.
Dear Dr. Sylvia, I have an eight-year-old daughter, who does not like to listen. Her teacher says she talks too much in class, and I have taken away some of the things she likes to do, but she still talks in class. It started in first grade and continues. I have read many books about discipline and have not found the answer. She is usually a sweet child, but sometimes she really gets out of hand and throws tantrums like a two-year-old.
Although the times and family make-up have changed dramatically, the foundational principles of intelligent parenting survive. Research has provided clear fundamentals that direct children toward confidence, security, and achievement. Furthermore, there are a fair number of day-to-day options available in raising children from which parents can choose. The children of this millennium will continue to be influenced by much more than their families; however, parents and grandparents continue to set the important foundations. I anticipate with enthusiasm sharing with my audience the cornerstones of raising happy, achieving children based on my many years of clinical work and my research with families.
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