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Dr. Sylvia Rimm


Uneven Abilities Are Confusing Q: My husband and I have heard you speak and have read your book, "How to Parent So Children Will Learn." We are hoping you could help us with our oldest son. He is a fifth-grader with a late July birthday and takes sixth-grade math and science …Read more. Great-Grandmother Worries About Family Standards Q: I am a 78-year-old mother, grandmother and great-grandmother. I recently learned that I will be a great-grandmother again, through my 21-year-old granddaughter is not married, has only a part-time job, no career direction or ambition, and still …Read more. There Is Hope For 4-Year-Old Q: My niece and her ex-husband share joint custody of their very intelligent and very stubborn 4-year-old daughter. While my niece very tries very hard to set boundaries and consistent discipline for her daughter, her efforts are sabotaged by the ex-…Read more. Capable Preschooler Refuses to Talk Q. My 4 1/2-year-old son refuses to speak to other adults when his father or I are present. He talks to his teachers while at preschool, his friends and parents of his friends. He's very intelligent and knows all his letter sounds and how to read …Read more.
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No Boys Allowed in Bathroom With 13-Year-Old Girl/Children Need Thank You Reminders


Q: Hello, I have a question in reference to a subject where my wife and I disagree. We have a teenage daughter, 13 years old, who has developed and grown into a young woman. How long should her 6-year-old nephew be allowed to sit in the bathroom with her, while she is taking a bath?

I feel that the boy is at a vulnerable age and should not see his aunt naked, especially while she is cleaning her privates.

A: It's hard to imagine a 13-year-old girl wanting a boy around when she bathes. By age 5, I typically recommend that there be no observation of nudity between the sexes. Even the 6-year-old boy needs privacy from his teenage aunt, although a teen girl or boy can change the diapers of preschoolers of either sex. There really isn't an exact time for the need for privacy, but as soon as the sexes are separated in school bathrooms, I considerate it time to separate them at home, as well.

It makes it easier for kids to follow the school rules if home rules are similar. Considering that there is a strong public reaction of abuse to any children's sexual touching, it's better to encourage kids to stay safe and modest. Teaching children some privacy about their sexuality does no harm, and sexual exposure does no apparent good.

For a free newsletter from my book on "How To Parent So Children Will Learn" (Three Rivers Press, 1997), send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to the address below.

Q: I am a grandparent of three lovely children: two grandsons, one 17 and one 11, and a granddaughter, 14. My question is that we never get a thank-you card for birthday, Valentine or Christmas gifts. Should I bring this up with my grandchildren, so they learn to at least acknowledge their gifts? My daughters were taught to do this. Should I talk to their parents or just stop giving gifts?

Sometimes I feel that we really are not appreciated.

I know this is silly, because I know they love us, but I think they should communicate with us more. They all live far away.

A: Although young children need thank-you note reminders, by the teen years, sometimes they learn to take responsibility for these on their own. The children of this generation have become accustomed to quantities of material possessions and sometimes assume entitlement. At least that is a frequent complaint. I hear it from parents who work very hard but they are also often very generous about giving their children almost anything. Teens are also in the habit of using technology for their communication and rarely write actual letters.

Please don't stop giving your grandchildren gifts as long as you can afford to do so. Don't sacrifice your own comforts and be sure not to give too much. I'm sure the children do appreciate the gifts and love you, too. Perhaps, you could talk to their parents about your concern without being overly dramatic about the problem. These children would benefit from some reminders to write thank-you notes, even in this age of technology. Being gracious and appreciative are qualities that enhance every person's life.

Maybe sending an e-mail message to your kids, indicating how much thank-you notes would mean to you, would be enough for them to encourage their children to learn that wonderful habit of expressing appreciation. Perhaps, the children will even learn to tell you more often that you mean so much to them.

For a free newsletter about do's and don'ts of grandparenting, send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to the address below.

Dr. Sylvia B. Rimm is the director of the Family Achievement Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio, a clinical professor of psychiatry and pediatrics at the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, and the author of many books on parenting. More information on raising kids is available at Please send questions to: Sylvia B. Rimm on Raising Kids, P.O. Box 32, Watertown, WI 53094 or To read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at



2 Comments | Post Comment
I have 2 childrn. a 10 yeold girl andd a 13 yearold boy.
My son has ben showing signs of sexual crisity such asking his sister to teke off her pantie.
My wfe caight them one day. They felt uncomfortable. My daughter told my wife ttht there hs been n lly 4 incidents when ther alone.
We are vey cncerned and need you advice.
Comment: #1
Posted by: Bob Z
Tue Aug 17, 2010 6:44 AM
There is no mention if the Great-Grandmother receives presents from the Grand or Greatgrandchildren, so my comment is addressed to the subject of giving as a whole. I have always been extremely annoyed by the fact that although my siblings and I were expected to send out thank you cards, we NEVER received any from those older and seemingly more socially adept than we. The double standard has always outraged me that we spent our money and time on choosing presents for them, we weren't worthy of acknowledgment!
Comment: #2
Posted by: amelia
Sun Aug 22, 2010 9:36 AM
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