By Dr. Meg Meeker
My husband and I like to think we are doing a pretty good job with our 11-year old daughter. I let her get an Instagram account earlier this year while I was trying to homeschool her to save some money. I thought it would be a neat way for her to still stay in touch with her former classmates. As informed as I think I am, somehow I didn't realize Instagram is social media. I first understood it to be something that only her classmates and dance team members were on, kind of a giant text with shared pictures, and I do monitor who she follows and who follows her, as that's the rule in this home. What I want to ask you is if it is ever too late to somehow turn the clock back?
Many of my pediatric patients have told me in so many words, “My parents never listen to me—they just lecture all the time.” If we’re honest, listening isn’t a strength for most people.
Dr. Dr. Meg:
My question for you is about my 6-year-old son. Midway into Kindergarten this year, he started lying. He is amazing, thoughtful, tender, kind-hearted, and he is funny - he thinks making up stories is part of his humor. I tell him all the time not to do it, but at his age it's hard to discipline him when it's confusing to me whether it's make-believe or not. What should I do?
--Thank you, Renee (single mother)
Most people remember where they were on September 11, 2001. The memories of the 9/11 attacks are forever etched into the American psyche: nineteen radical Islamic terrorists, four hijacked commercial jetliners, nearly three thousand deaths, over six thou- sand injuries, and a cost to the United States—according to a New York Times estimate—of some $3.3 trillion.
Dear Dr. Meg:
My eldest daughter is just finishing up 6th grade and has been begging to be home-schooled. We moved to a new school district two years ago and she has been struggling to make friends. She is such a sweet kid; she is truly still a little girl compared to the small group of students at her private school. I'm at a loss as what to do. I don't want to pull her out of school just because things are hard right now, but at the same time, with her preparing to go to middle school, I know how hard the middle school years can be.
Dear Dr. Meg:
I have 2 daughters; one is twelve and the other is six. The eldest one is always rude and mean to her little sister. I am constantly telling her how much we love both of them. She has said that since her little sister was born we don't pay attention to her, which is when I remind her of everything I do with her. It breaks my heart to see how mean she is toward her little sister. Her little sister is always screaming because the older screams back. It's a constant “screamathon.” I've told the 12-year old that if she wants to talk to a counselor she can, but she says “What about?” We all pray together and ask God to help us understand each other, but when the little one starts praying the older one gets angry. It's been like this for 3 years or more. Help!
Dear Dr. Meg:
My son is an Angel at school, but when he gets home he just screams at his mother and I. He calls us names and never does what we ask of him without a fight. What can we do?
Our culture increasingly rolls its collective eyes at claims like that. Many media elites label religion—especially denominational Christianity—as regressive, unintelligent, even psychologically harmful. Lest I be accused of bias, let me say I agree that some people of faith, through messed-up motives and misguided actions, have given credence to such charges.
Dear Dr. Meg:
My 5-year old received a new kids magazine yesterday. There was a page with an Asian, Caucasian and African American child in separate pictures on the page. He was getting ready to mark out the black child with an X with a magic marker when I asked him what he was doing. My fear was realized when he told me he was going to 'X' her out because he didn't like her; he didn't like her because of her skin! I explained that she's made in the image of God just like him, but I could tell he wasn’t swayed. He has negative initial reactions in public, too. He says thing like " I don't like him" and when pressed, it's only because of their skin color. We live in a 99% white community in Denver, CO. What steps should we be taking to ensure a racist nature doesn't plant deep roots? He's around nobody, that I am aware, who would share these attitudes. They wouldn't tolerate it at his school. Please help.
The glory of children is their fathers.
If you are reading these words, three things are almost certainly true:
1. You have a daughter you love.
2. You are a conscientious man with a good heart.
3. You desperately want to connect with your daughter and help her become a healthy adult.
Dear Dr. Meg:
I am a single Mom who adopted 2 beautiful children on my own when they were young toddlers. They are now 8 and 4. While it is easier now that they are older, I feel more worn down. I live in a high cost, very competitive area and have a long commute, and everything is on me--from the house to meals, to cleaning, car issues, etc. My only family in the area is my brother, who does help me some, but I feel like I need a lot more help. While the kids are thriving and doing extremely well in all areas, I am not. I am not eating well, exercising or taking care of myself. There is just nothing left for me. I know I need to do better, but the long list of things to do each day just overtakes me. I want to be around for my kids, but if I don't start taking better care of myself I won't be. My own Mom died young and I fear I'm heading on the same path if I don't act. Please help me figure out how to take better care of myself.
Is it just me or have we all become addicts to phones? I believe phones have become idols & gods. If you look around, everyone is glued to these devices! There's no room for quiet in our lives & for God to speak into our hearts because we are tuning Him out, along with the people around us. I find it ironic that the symbol of these devices is the Apple with the bite taken out of it. Sound familiar?
One of the real delights in raising boys is that they are, in general, less complicated than daughters. They aren’t less emotional than daughters but they are more pragmatic in general. When a problem arises, they try to identify the problem and then find a solution. Girls might experience the same problem but overanalyze it to the point of missing the solution.
Dear Dr. Meg:
I am also going through a divorce, primarily because I was unfaithful. Although, I know what I did was wrong, I felt a need to find the love, passion, warmth and tenderness that I had not received from my wife for many years. My marriage was toxic for many years, and our parenting differences were a significant reason, as well. My daughters are 25 and 20 now. I had always had a great relationship with them, much better than did their mother. From the beginning, I was always there for them, for everything, and their mother was not, as she was more interested in her career and outside interests to give them the care and attention they needed. Yet, when they learned of my infidelity to my wife, they turned against me. I have not seen or talked to them for 16 months. My wife has portrayed me as a terrible father and husband, and they have accepted that and, as a result, will not communicate with me. I am confused by all of this...
I read your articles about grandparents and I am wandering what your thoughts are about grandparents who don't support your values. We recently saw a Catholic counselor who suggested that my husband ask his mother to show respect or not be allowed to come around. She has lied, planned parties on days we couldn't attend and insisted we be there, planned family vacations where young unmarried adults would be staying together, etc. She will not apologize and even sent our teenage son a letter that disrespected us and bad-mouthed my husband. Fortunately, our son never saw the letter. She is divorced from my husband's father and bad-mouths his father. She did not recognize my husband's birthday this year after we sent her flowers for hers. She calls us "too Catholic," while supporting cohabiting and a granddaughter who has posted satanism as her religion on social media. Do you think we should bother with her?
We have a five-year-old son who is bright, active, creative and happy. Recently, he started making comments when we correct his behavior. These behaviors are not major, mainly just simple things any parent of a five-year-old boy would address. His comments are “I know, you hate me.” “You think I’m stupid.” And even, “You wish I was dead.” Each time we have simply stated 'we love you very much' and have shared that as parents it’s our job to teach right from wrong. Any suggestions?
How you listen determines whether your son keeps talking or stops the conversation. If you start talking about feelings with your son at an early age, this type of conversation will become second nature to him as he matures. The threat of being socially unacceptable is perhaps the largest hurdle for boys to manage when it comes to openly sharing their feelings. But fear runs a close second.
Dear Dr. Meg:
I am a pediatric endocrinologist at the University of Michigan, and work with transgender adolescents in the new Gender Management Program at Mott Children's Hospital. I strongly support the draft policy statement. Specifically, I support the statement's focus on creating a comfortable learning environment for transgender and gender non-conforming students. Students who are called by preferred names and pronouns, and are able to use the bathroom in accordance with their affirmed gender, are much more likely to thrive at school and have diminished anxiety and depression. I commend the efforts of the State Board of Education and their commitment to protecting this vulnerable population of students.
Even before Bruce Jenner transitioned to Caitlin, buzz about transexuality began. This was due, in large part, I believe, to the fact that questioning gender identity taps into one of the deepest wonderings of every man and woman: who am I? Astute and loving parents are additionally burdened with wanting to help their children answer this question. It’s no wonder that many have become unsettled. Every parent wants his or her children to grow up to be happy, well adjusted and comfortable in their own skin.
My state, Michigan, is going through a crisis of sorts. And it’s over bathrooms: who or what should use whose- and when. You need to get in the loop on this, because whether your state is having this showdown or not, it's coming.
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