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Questions and Answers: Father/son relationships, learning to talk, TV

Question

Since our oldest son went away to college last year, I’ve noticed that my husband spends more time at work or playing golf. We still have a ten-year-old boy at home, but he and his dad have never been close. I thought this would be a great opportunity for them to really bond with each other, but neither seems interested. My husband was an outstanding dad to our oldest son, so I don’t understand what is going on and what I should do about it.   

Answer

 While it is normal for a parent to have a different relationship with each of their children, this situation seems unhealthy. Begin by talking with your husband about your concerns. Perhaps he feels he has nothing in common with his son. Maybe your youngest child has not lived up to his dad’s expectations or achieved as much as his older brother.

Your son will be spending the next eight years of his life in your home, and this rejection is harmful. His dad has a responsibility to accept his parental responsibilities even if his son’s interests, style, personality or achievements are different than that of his older brother. He needs to stop rejecting his son and start acting like a real dad.

If your husband’s behavior doesn’t start to change in the next several weeks, please seek professional help even if your husband refuses to attend.

Question

My two-year-old is still not talking, but I’ve just read that this is not unusual and I shouldn’t be concerned. Is that correct?

 

Answer

No. Most two-year-olds can verbalize anywhere from 50-200 words, and understand much more than that. It is concerning if a two-year-old is not yet speaking. The research that you refer to looked at whether kids who talked later in life had a greater likelihood of behavior problems, and in general they do not. However, you should consult with your family doctor and consider a referral to a specialist to assess your child’s development.

Question

I don’t allow our three children (ranging in age from 5 to 11) to ever watch TV. Do you think this puts them at any disadvantage because they are not as aware of pop culture as their peers?

Answer

The average American child spends four hours per day in front a television screen, which strikes me as an incredible waste of time. I’ve spoken with many parents who reported that removal of the television set from their children’s lives was one of the best changes they ever made. There are lots of other ways that your children can learn about the world other than sitting in front of a TV.

However, if used correctly, I think that watching TV can actually help you connect with your kids. Aside from its entertainment value, it can give you lots to talk about with your children. Many parents, myself included, pursue a moderate approach that limits rather than prohibits TV watching.

Family Wise, 7-17-2011

Next week:  Myth vs. Reality of Teens and Technology

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