Dilemma of the Week: A mom 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 game. Grannie disapproved, 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. Or a basketball, hockey or baseball game for that matter. 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 him or her, 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.
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 should prevail. On the other hand, if a child's physical discomfort causes his behavior to slide downhill, then he ought to be put to bed, thus reducing the need for discipline.
Research Findings of the Week: The Onion 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.”
Using the Hare Psychopathy Checklist, a reputable clinical tool, 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.
“The depths of depravity that these tiny psychopaths are capable of reaching are really quite chilling,” commented Mateo.
Of special interest to me was the study's finding that although any adult is capable of falling for a child's pathological scheming, grandparents are especially susceptible.
Much to our chagrin, my wife and I immediately recognized ourselves and resolve to never again enable our seven grandkids' anti-social tendencies. To quote the inimitable Peter Townsend, “We won't be fooled again!”
OK, the Onion is a spoof. But anyone who has ever lived with children will surely recognize the grain of truth contained in these ersatz findings.