Verbal Discipline: That Whole Sticks-and-Stones Thing is Wrong

screaming at teens

Dear Mr. Dad: How bad is verbal discipline for kids? My next-door neighbors have a couple of teens and they are constantly yelling at them. Every single day. Not just a little—I’m talking top-of-your-lungs kind of stuff. Besides being really unpleasant to listen to, I’m worried about how that might affect the kids. I see them almost every day and I haven’t noticed any bruises or anything else that might indicate that they’re being hit. Still, should I say something to the parents or just keep my mouth shut?

A: “Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me,” is right up there with “Johnny and Julie siting in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G….” and “I’m rubber, you’re glue, whatever you say bounces off me and sticks to you” on the list of top annoying (yet endlessly repeated) childhood sayings. It also happens to be completely wrong. Screaming at kids is plenty bad. In fact, a new study has found that yelling at teens may do at least as much long-term damage as hitting.
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Driven to Distraction—and Death

Dear Mr. Dad: I’m worried about my two teenagers. They both have a driver’s license, but even though we’ve talked about the dangers of texting while driving, I suspect they’re doing it anyway. They’re generally smart, responsible young people, but all it takes is one second. What can we do to keep them from making a mistake that could kill them—or someone else?

A: Given that more than 80 percent of teens use a cell phone while driving, you’re absolutely right to be concerned. Car crashes are the leading cause of death for all age groups from 3 to 33. In 2010, distracted drivers were responsible for 6,000 deaths in the US—a fifth of all fatalities. According to a recent study out of Virginia Tech, a driver who’s texting is 23.2 times more likely to be involved in a car accident than someone who either keeps her phone in her pocket or turns it over to a child in the back seat. By contrast, drunk drivers are only eight times more likely to get into accidents.

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Got Teen? Then You’ve Got Sexting Too

If you’ve got a teenager, you can be pretty sure that he or she is sexting. Don’t believe me? Well, according to uknowkids.com, 86% of teens who sext are not caught. So how could you possibly know?

Now that you know what to look for, be sure to check out the infographic on the next page. And consider these other interesting tidbits about your teen’s sexting activity…

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When Adult Children Come Home

My wife and I recently sent our last child off to college. We were ready to sell the house and travel around the country, but our oldest daughter just lost her job and is planning to move back home. How can my wife and I enjoy our retirement but help our daughter at the same time?

One of the biggest risks to adjusting to a child’s leaving is that she might come back. All of us have certain preconceived notions about when major life events are supposed to take place, and we have a social clock that rings at the appropriate time. If the clock doesn’t go off at the right time, we’re likely to feel some stress. Moving out of the house is one of those events, and for most of us, the clock is set for eighteen, which is when the majority of American kids move out.
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How Your Relationships with Your Children Change When They Leave Home

Our daughter is going away to college. On one hand, I’m thrilled that she’s becoming so independent. But we’ve always been very close and I’m worried that our relationship will suffer. Will it?

Well, the day you’ve hoped for and dreaded is finally here. Your child is going to move out. Some researchers have called this the beginning of the "post parental stage," but I think that’s a mistake. Yes, your child is leaving, but that doesn’t mean you’re going to stop being a parent. In fact, you’re just getting started on the longest phase of your fathering experience.
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What IS It with Girls and Clothes?

Dear Mr. Dad: Ever since my daughter turned 13, all she does is pressure my wife and me to buy her extravagant, overpriced clothing. We’re going through a bit of a rough financial patch and there’s no way we can afford what she’s asking for. Any advice?

A: Clearly you were never a teenage girl. Okay, neither was I, but I did survive my two oldest daughters’ bouts with teen wardrobe insanity and still have most of my hair. My youngest, who worships her older sisters and apparently was taking good notes during their adolescent years, is threatening to become a teenager herself in a few years and has already developed some very firm ideas about clothes.
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