Dear Family Coach: My teen daughter is being cyber bullied on social media. She is very open with me about it, but said that under no circumstances should I try and help. I feel like I need to contact some of these oblivious parents to let them know what their children are doing online. Should I respect her decision to handle it or should I get involved? —Feeling Helpless Mom
Dear Helpless: The quickest way to show your daughter that talking to you is a risky proposition is to get involved against her wishes. If she isn't in any danger and she feels she can handle the situation, you have to let her. Very often, parents get involved because they are (appropriately) horrified by the actions of other children. They feel they must put a stop to the behavior by any means necessary.
But there are several problems with this approach. When parents rush in to resolve a situation, they eliminate the problem-solving skills of their children. Kids don't learn to stand up for themselves or work toward a solution if Mommy and Daddy always swoop in to save the day. Another byproduct of parental involvement is that kids stop trusting their parents and begin to retreat quietly into their own world. It is better to maintain open communication and just listen. Offer suggestions and help her come to a decision of how she wants to handle the bullying. If she asks for more involvement, take that next step. Otherwise, try and hang back.
Dear Family Coach: My 7-year-old slurs his speech pronouncing the letter "s." He was evaluated at school and was approved for weekly speech therapy. The therapist insists he control the sound by keeping his tongue against his inner gums. Not only does he hate it, but also it makes the "s" sound like a hiss that I find annoying. My wife keeps interrupting him to remind him to do it. Her constant interruptions make him angry and he ends up having meltdowns. Now he detests having to see the speech therapist and resists all of her efforts. The issue of speech therapy is turning into a source of tension for us. I'd like to discontinue therapy. Is it such a big deal to have a speech impediment? — Thylvester's Dad
Dear Dad: I agree that having a speech impediment is, as you say, not such a big deal. It is certainly possible to have a great personal life and career with all sorts of language issues. However, it's generally better to utilize the treatment. Right now, your son hates the therapy. But I bet he can't imagine how that pesky "s" might impact his social life in middle and high school. Furthermore, treating language delays and articulation issues is easier when the child is young.
Your son's speech therapy should not cause friction in the house. To start with, consider a new speech therapist. Sessions won't work if they result in anger and stress. I would interview some other specialists and find out how they approach reluctant clients. A good therapist makes it fun. Then you and your wife need to get on the same page about how to deal with the requisite practice.
Dr. Catherine Pearlman, the founder of The Family Coach, LLC, advises parents on all matters of child rearing. To write to Dr. Pearlman, send her an email at [email protected] To find out more about Dr. Catherine Pearlman and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.
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