Q: When I give my 5 year old daughter a chore, she does it, but all the while she mumbles under her breath, huffs and huffs, and so on. Do I discipline this behavior or just let it run its course?
A: Let her loose! She may have a “bad attitude”, but she does what she is told. She’s just irritable, which in this situation isn’t considered bad behavior. It’s childishness. In fact, I predict that if you started punishing her outbursts, she might start a real rebellion. Count your blessings and leave this problem alone.
Q: I am the mother-in-law of three girls aged 9, 10 and 11. My husband has custody. In our house, children have chores, rules and consequences if they break the rules. When they go to their mothers, however, everything we try to teach them goes out the window. She actually told them to lie to us, she slept with her boyfriend while they are with her, buys them almost everything they want and so on. How to fight against this and not look like Nazi parents?
A: The way to deal with this is to be true to your values and tenaciously persist in doing what you know is right. You can’t influence what happens to their mother, and if you make it your plan to compensate for that, you risk creating problems and solving none of them. When a divorced parent (with or without a step-parent) raises children with a constant eye on what the ex-spouse does and doesn’t do, the divorced parent quickly loses a sense of clear direction. Moreover, children almost inevitably feel that they are in the middle of an unspoken and ongoing conflict between their parents. They are likely, under the circumstances, to become angry and manipulative – a most undesirable combination. Do what you know is right, turning a blind eye to evil.
Q: When I told her I was about to start potty training my 20 month old daughter, my pediatrician told me she was too young and recommended that I wait until until she is at least 2 and a half years old. Your opinion interests me. I’m moving forward, by the way.
A: Good for you! The good “season” for potty training is between 18 and 24 months. In the 1950s, when training was still within this window, nearly 90% of 24-month-olds were fully trained and accident-free (study by Harvard and other prestigious institutions). The longer a parent waits after 24 months to start training, the more problems they will have. This is clearly verified by the number of parents today who wait and then endure potty training wars of one form or another. Obviously, your common sense is your best parenting asset. Keep rocking in the free world!