Violence in TV and movies disturbingly popular
Question: What’s the appeal of all this human suffering and violence on television and in movies? Why do people want more of it?
Dobson: I’m sure it has something to do with our desire for excitement and our need to escape from the boring existence many people experience. But, I have to admit I don’t fully understand it. It is difficult to comprehend why people enjoy watching such bloody events. A number of years ago, the number one television program in the entire year, watched by more people than all the sporting events or any other single program in the course of the 12 month period, was “Helter Skelter,” the story of the Charles Manson family. One incident in that TV special was the murder of a woman, eight-months pregnant, who was brutally stabbed in the abdomen. Why would anyone want to see such brutality? The popularity of that program and others like it speaks dramatically about the depravity of the American people and our lust for violence.
Question: As a single mother, I’d like to leave my children with friends or relatives for a few days and get some time for myself, but I’m worried about how this might affect them. Will they feel deserted?
Dobson: Not only is a brief time away from your children not likely to be hurtful -— it will probably be healthy for them. One of the special risks faced by single parents is possibility of a dependency relationship developing that will trap their children at an immature stage. This danger is increased when wounded people cling to each other exclusively for support in stressful times. Spending a reasonable amount of time apart can teach independence and give everyone a little relief from the routine. Therefore, if you have a clean, safe place to leave your children for a week or two, by all means, do it. You’ll be more refreshed and better able to handle your usual “homework” when you return.
Question: I have a very fussy eight-month-old baby who cries whenever I put her down. My pediatrician says she is healthy and that she cries just because she wants me to hold her all the time. I do give her a lot of attention, but I simply can’t keep her on my lap all day long. How can I make her less fussy?
Dobson: The crying of infants is an important form of communication. Through their tears we learn of their hunger, fatigue, discomfort, or diaper disaster. Thus, it is important to listen to those calls for help and interpret them accordingly. On the other hand, your pediatrician is right. It is possible to create a fussy, demanding baby by rushing to pick her up every time she utters a whimper or sigh. Infants are fully capable of learning to manipulate their parents through a process called reinforcement, whereby any behavior that produces a pleasant result will tend to recur.
Thus, a healthy baby can keep her mother hopping around her nursery 12 hours a day (or night) by simply forcing air past her sandpaper larynx. To avoid this consequence, it is important to strike a balance between giving your baby the attention she needs and establishing her as a tiny dictator. Don’t be afraid to let her cry a reasonable period of time (which is thought to be healthy for the lungs), although it is necessary to listen to the tone of her voice for the difference between random discontent and genuine distress. Most mothers learn to recognize this distinction very quickly.
When my daughter was one year of age, I used to stand out of sight at the doorway of her nursery for four or five minutes, awaiting a momentary lull in the crying before going to pick her up. By so doing, I reinforced the pauses rather than the tears. You might try the same approach.