Friday, April 10, 2009

Aaron's Unwanted Advice-4/10/09 ("It's Late in Honor of Our Savior's Death" Edition)

DEAR ABBY: I am writing about your response to "John in Savannah" (Feb. 1), the 24-year-old man who is unsure how to explain to people that using a belt to discipline his three little girls is different from abuse.

Sometimes, in order to teach that actions or behaviors are inappropriate, some form of punishment, whether it's a spanking or a time-out, becomes necessary. I give my children three chances when they misbehave. If they continue, they are punished. They know that there will be consequences if they do wrong. Like John's children, mine are also frequently praised for being courteous and well-behaved.

Small children do not understand long-term punishment like grounding, taking away toys, etc. By the time the duration of that kind of discipline has passed, the child has forgotten the reason for it. For young children to understand the consequences of wrong behavior, the measures must be swift and short-term.

John should answer those who ask by saying he uses "consistent discipline accompanied by corporal punishment when necessary." If more parents did the same as John and me, we'd have fewer behavior problems in schools.



Giving a kid a swat on the hiney with your open hand is one thing—we were spanked sometimes as kids, and it didn’t kill us. (Truthfully, our parents found other ways to scare us, so they didn’t have to spank us that often.) BUT—hitting a little kid with an object, like a belt or a switch, is quite another story. You don’t know how hard you’re actually hitting them, or how much injury you might be inflicting.

Congratulations on your well-behaved little darlings, but there’s no getting around the fact that hitting a small child with a belt is abuse. “John” is lucky he hasn’t had to “explain” his actions to Social Services, rather than just a few annoying ol’ Nosey Parkers.

If you’re still unconvinced, then maybe somebody ought to clobber you with a belt and see how you like it. And this time, you won’t get to wear the leather mask.

DEAR ELLIE: I've been with my husband for 10 years; we have a daughter, 8, and he has a son, 12, who's never lived with his dad (the parents split up before he was born). His son visits frequently and lately claims the mother's boyfriend is mean to him, but I know his mother would never allow that. I'm sure he gets smart with the boyfriend and doesn't like his response or the fact that his mother has a man in her life.

My husband and I are well off financially; we go many places and do lots of things, and I think that's another reason why he wants to live with us. We give him everything from expensive game consoles to the newest clothes. We have family nights where we all do activities together, so he's not lacking attention.

He's a spoiled brat who wants all of my husband's time, and my daughter and I on the back burner. He acts smug because he's able to do this when he visits-- he dominates my husband's time with "tall tales" about his life at his mom's house.

My husband feels guilty and goes out of his way to make him feel special while shutting out my daughter and myself. His mother has told me that he's very jealous of our daughter because she lives with her dad.

I don't want my stepson to live with us. I can't stand how he's conning my husband. I don't want the responsibility of dealing with a pre-teen before I have to. I like my life the way it is. I don't know how to prevent him from moving in or bring it up to my husband. I don't want to appear insensitive to his "poor unfortunate son." What can I do?



I don’t know who’s the bigger brat—you or the son. So you’ve got it pretty cushy, huh, and don’t want to share? Get over yourself, Imelda. And if you “can’t bear it” now, just wait until that daughter, 8, hits puberty! You’d better buckle up, sweetie pie, because adolescence is one bumpy ride.

When you married your husband, I’m assuming you knew he had a son (who would have been 2 at the time). Once you marry someone with kids, those kids become yours too, and you must have also known that he would eventually grow and become a teenager. So whether or not you realized it, you signed on a long time ago. Well, tah-dah--it’s showtime!

Kids tend to exaggerate things—hence the mother’s “mean boyfriend.” (Just how do you presume to know so much about the goings-on at his mother’s house, anyway?) This does not make your stepson a “con man” anymore than your saying that “you could just die” would require you to climb into a coffin and close the lid (although you’re encouraged to do so).

You said yourself that your family enjoys a lifestyle that’s pretty comfortable. It’s understandable that he’d be jealous of that, but it’s pathetic and ridiculous for a grown woman to skulk around pouting because her husband is spending too much time with his own son. If you feel you’re being left out, try scheduling activities for the whole family while the son is there. Otherwise, just shut up and slap a smile on that sour puss.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I was changing my baby’s diaper in a public restroom the other day. The changing table had no privacy whatsoever, and anyone walking in or out of the restroom had full view of what was going on.

While most people seemed to avert their eyes, there was one woman who, while waiting for her children to wash their hands, kept looking over at my daughter while her diaper was off, and it made me very uncomfortable and upset. I don’t feel that staring at anyone, no matter how old, in that position is right.

What would be an appropriate way to say, “Would you please stop staring at my half-naked daughter, it’s quite rude?"


“So when does she get to see yours? It’s only fair since you’ve been gawking at hers.”

DEAR AMY: I would like to know your thoughts on displaying formal portraits of brides in their wedding gowns once the couple has divorced.

My sister-in-law continues to ask my opinion of the life-size portrait of her daughter on prominent display in her home. The marriage ended in bitter divorce, and her daughter has since remarried.

Until now I have tried to be kind and told her to do as she wishes in her home.

If she asks me again I am tempted to tell her that maybe it's time to take the picture down, as she and her daughter both hate the gentleman from the first marriage. I also cannot help wonder how it makes the new husband feel to have the portrait forced upon him.

It's her home, but she keeps asking for an "honest opinion." Any thoughts?



I’d change the subject and ask her if she’s suffering—from Alzheimer’s, that is, since you’ve answered the same question on numerous occasions. Since the picture never changes, it’s unlikely to have gained weight or developed wrinkles, unless she’s living in an episode of Night Gallery.

Next time she brings it up, go ahead and ask why she keeps it displayed. Is she trying, in some subtle, evil, old-bitchy-mother-in-law way, to say that she likes her new son-in-law even less than the old one? If so, she’d better watch it, because two can play at that game, and he might just have a life-sized dartboard of her in his rec room.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Dear Abby Letter: I was punished as a child with a belt or a switch or flyswatter. I still carry the scars both inside and out. I do believe a good swat with the hand on teh backside is effective though. I see the supernanny return a child to their bed or time out spot over and over again. I would tell my child if you get up from the spot before it is time you'll be sorry. children need discipline to learn how to behave in public but belts and such are abusive. I still turned out wierd no matter how hard they tried to beat it out of me.
In the Dear Ellie letter the son may be abused since he says his step dad is mean to him. A child isn't a brat unless he learns to be one. It doesn't come naturally.
In the Miss Manners letter it is too bad the baby wasn't a boy then maybe the looky lou would get a shower.
Dear amy letter: OMG! a life size portrait of a bride isn't weird it is crazy! Even if they were happily married it would be strange to display a lifesize portrait in the sister-in-laws home. Happy Easter, Aaron. ed

11:53 AM  
Blogger Aaron said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

4:32 PM  
Blogger Aaron said...

(I messed up that last comment and didn't realize until I posted it!)

The spoiled stepmom did say that the boy's mother wouldn't allow him to be abused, and I have a feeling that if he were being abused, he'd tell his father. In any event, she seemed mean-spirited and petty to resent the time the father spends with his son.

Happy Easter to you too!

4:33 PM  
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6:54 AM  

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