Spanking Gets Results: But All the Wrong Kinds

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mrdad - spanking - wikicommonsDear Mr. Dad: I was over at a friend’s house and was surprised to see her spanking her 4-year old. I’ve never hit any of my kids and don’t have any plans to do so. But after taking an informal poll of other parents I know, I was surprised to find that I’m actually in the minority. Should I rethink my no-spanking policy?

 A: Please don’t. There’s some debate about whether an actual majority of parents spank their children. For example, one study found that while 62 percent of parents in the South admit to having spanked their children, only 41 percent of parents in the rest of the country have. And according to a recent study done by researchers at Columbia University, 57 percent of moms and 40 percent of dads engaged in spanking when their children were three years old, and 52 percent of moms and 33 percent of dads were still spanking when their kids were five. But let’s not quibble over semantics. The point is that way, way too many parents are hitting their children—and it needs to stop.

I know I’m going to hear from a lot of readers who will swear up and down that spanking works. And they’re right. Spanking definitely gets the child’s attention and will usually get him or her to immediately do what you say. That’s great in the moment, but what about future moments?

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Interfaith Marriages: There Is Hope

Dear Mr. Dad: My husband and I are in a religiously mixed marriage. Before we had kids, it wasn’t an issue and we usually just did our own thing. But ever since our daughter was born, everything seems a lot more complicated. Each of us is committed to our own religion and to our marriage. How are we supposed to raise our children?

Well, there’s good news and bad. The good news is that you’re not alone. Before getting married, fewer than half of interfaith couples discuss the religious upbringing they plan to give their kids, and 80 percent say that having “the same values” is more important than having the same religion, according to Naomi Schaefer Riley, author of “’Til Faith Do Us Part: How Interfaith Marriage Is Transforming America.” Interfaith marriages are getting more and more common. Back in the 1960s, only 19% of marriages were interfaith, according to a new Pew Research Center report. But among couples who married since 2010, 39% say their spouse is of a different religion (and 49% of cohabiting couples are in interfaith relationships).

The bad news is that, according to Schaefer Riley, interfaith couples are significantly less satisfied than same-faith couples, and that the more religiously active spouse is usually the unhappiest one.

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Biting and Hitting the Hand that Feeds

biting teeth
biting teeth

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Dear Mr. Dad: Our son just turned one and, almost like flipping a switch, he went from the sweetest, happiest little guy to smacking and biting. It’s bad enough when it happens at home, but my husband and I are beyond embarrassed when he attacks friends or strangers. Is it normal for babies to turn mean like this? Normal or not, how can we get it to stop?

A: No one knows exactly why, but right around their first birthday, most babies go through a stage that involves hitting and/or biting everything and everyone in sight. So, yes, biting and hitting are normal, and it’s unlikely that he’s “turning mean.” However, as you said, whether it’s normal or not, this behavior needs to stop. Before you can do anything about the behavior, though, you need to figure out what’s behind it.

According to child development experts, there are lots of possible explanations. Your baby may be hitting or biting because: [Read more…]

Wandering Toddler

My year-old child has begun to climb out of the crib at night. I am concerned she will get into something and hurt herself. I worry so much about her at night, I can’t sleep. How do I keep her safe?

Start by thinking about her environment in larger and larger circles, from the crib to the door. First, the crib. There get rid of all those bumpers (those oh-so-cute fabric pads that used to protect your baby from banging her head against the inside of the crib). Bumpers make great stepping stones for climbers. Also, take all those big stuffed animals, pillows, and heavy comforters out of the crib. These items were dangerous as suffocation hazards when your baby was small. Now that she’s bigger, they’re tickets to freedom.
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Technology For Toddlers

My husband recently bought a computer for our 18-month old daughter. I think he’s nuts, but he says that it’s never too early to get kids computer literate. I’m concerned that pushing computer literacy at this age will put too much pressure on our child, making her feel like she has to be an over achiever. Is he right or should we wait?

You and your husband have stumbled into one of the 21st century’s parenting hot spots. A lot of parents have some legitimate questions about the sensibility and worthwhileness (and even the danger) of starting kids on computers and/or computerized toys at such an early age. Unfortunately, making the right decision-assuming there is such a thing-is nearly impossible, given the heated debate among academics, software designers, and advocacy groups.
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To Have A Second Child… Or Not

My wife wants to have another child, but I’m not sure I’m ready. The first one keeps us so busy already that we barely have time for the both of us. I love being a father, and my wife loves being a mother, but I feel like that is our only identity – parents. Adding another child to the mix will only take more time away from us as a couple. What should I do?

For a lot of couples, the question about whether to have another child isn’t really a question, it’s a given. For others, though, the issue is more complicated. And most of the problems have to do with exactly what you’re going through in your home: one spouse wants a second (or third) child while the other isn’t nearly as excited about the prospect. Unfortunately, there’s no easy solution to this problem.
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