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Parenting: Go to a child's recital or a fun game?

Wednesday, December 30, 2009 - 12:01 am

Dilemma of the Week: A mom recently told me her daughter's first piano recital had been scheduled for the same weekend as her college football team's bowl game. She got Grannie to go to the recital and she and her husband went to the bowl game. Grannie disapproved of the parents' decision, but stood in for them anyway. Mom asks, “Did I do the right thing?”

In the interest of full disclosure, I am obligated to tell the reader that I would rather watch a faucet drip than go to a football game. I liberated myself from any interest in sports many years ago, and I am a happier camper as a result. Notwithstanding my cultural heresy, I approve the parents' decision.

If the child was disappointed, so be it. Into every life some disappointment must fall. Furthermore, everyone needs to learn that it's not all about them, and the earlier learned, the better. Let's face it folks, a first piano recital is not in the same class as a Bar Mitzvah or a tonsillectomy. Besides, it may well be that the girl performed better knowing her parents were not watching. And I'm absolutely certain the parents had a better time at the football game, even if their team lost. Question of the Week: The mother of a preschool boy asks if and how she should discipline him when he is suffering one of his recurrent ear infections. The youngster is generally well-behaved, but is “bad” when he's in aural discomfort.

My general rule is that if a child is not sick enough to be confined to bed, then normal behavioral expectations and, therefore, normal discipline should prevail. However, if a child's physical discomfort does not require bed rest, but causes his behavior to slide downhill, then he ought to be put to bed, thus reducing if not eliminating the need for discipline.

Research Findings of the Week: The Onion, an online publication, reports that a recent study published in The Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry concludes that 98 percent of children under age 10 are unrepentant sociopaths who are incapable of empathy, genuine remorse and will do anything to get their own way. To quote Dr. Leonard Mateo, a developmental psychologist at the University of Minnesota and lead author of the study, “It's as if they have no concept of anyone but themselves.”

Mateo and his colleagues found that 684 of the 700 children enrolled in the study exhibited such sociopathic characteristics as superficial charm, pathological lying, manipulative behaviors (e.g. whining and tantrums), and a grandiose sense of self.

Notwithstanding that I am unable to find either a Leonard Mateo on the psychology faculty at the University of Minnesota or a record of said study in the archives of said Journal, anyone who has ever lived with children will surely recognize the grain of truth contained in these ersatz findings.

John Rosemond is a family psychologist in North Carolina. Questions of general interest may be sent to him at Affirmative Parenting, 1020 E. 86th St., Suite 26B, Indianapolis, IN 46240 and at