DR. WALLACE: Many times, my mother will give me permission to do something and I'll make plans to do it, but when my dad learns about it, he tells me I can't. For example, last week, I asked my mother if I could go to a matinee movie with my friend this Sunday. She gave me permission and said she'd even drive me there and pick me up afterward. It was going to be a fun day.
But on Saturday morning, my dad found out about my plans and said to cancel them because he didn't want me in a theater without adult supervision. My mother came to my aid, but he overruled her. I then had to call my friend and cancel. It really bothered me to do this.
I think my father is very wrong when he says no after my mother says yes. I don't always ask for permission first because he works a lot and I don't get to see him that often. Both my parents read your column, so I hope you can help me out. I love both my parents, but I still disagree with my father on this one issue. — Caught In Be'tween, Evansville, Indiana
CAUGHT: Both parents must be in total agreement on what their children can and cannot do. One must never "overrule" the other. It's time your parents get together on this important issue. Your father is making a serious parenting error when he overrules your mother's pre-existing parenting decision.
Successful parents plan rules, discipline and situational guidelines in advance, not on the fly. I'm sure they each are doing their individual best to help raise you, but they should find harmonious compromise together first, and then present you with a united front so that consistency prevails. I trust this can be rectified quickly, as both your parents obviously love you and want the best for you.
KEEP TV AND STREAMING UNDER CONTROL
TEENS: If you maintain high grades, you probably limit your time watching television. Research reaffirms TV's negative influence on the educational process. Indeed, three separate findings on this issue were published in Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.
A study of 400 students in Northern California found that those with TVs in their bedroom scored 8 points lower on math and language arts tests than students without bedroom television. A study of 1,000 adults in New Zealand found lower education levels among 26-year-olds who had watched a lot of television when they were young. And a study of 1,800 U.S. children found that those who viewed at least three hours of television daily before age 3 scored slightly less on academic tests at age 6 than those who watched less television. The effect was modest but worrisome, according to researchers.
Data suggests that American children up to age 6 watch about an hour of television per day, while teens sit in front of the television an average of three hours per day. Not all television viewing can be labeled as a waste of time. Many educational programs (the history channel, public broadcasting and selected network programs, for example) can be beneficial to the overall learning process. It's that addictive quality of junk TV that regresses learning. And in today's modern age of streaming video, the opportunities to watch "television" are more prevalent than ever.
Dr. Robert Wallace welcomes questions from readers. Although he is unable to reply to all of them individually, he will answer as many as possible in this column. Email him at [email protected] To find out more about Dr. Robert Wallace and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.