Be hon­est, yet gen­tle with daugh­ter about fam­ily sit­u­a­tion

The Covington News - - Religion -

Ques­tion: At age twen­ty­one, I be­came preg­nant and had a baby girl. The fa­ther and I never mar­ried. My daugh­ter is al­most three years old now, and I know she will soon be ask­ing ques­tions about her daddy. How should I ex­plain this sit­u­a­tion to her and when should that ex­pla­na­tion be given?

Dob­son: Even­tu­ally, you will want to tell your daugh­ter the whole story about her fa­ther and de­scribe your re­la­tion­ship with him, but now is not the time to do that. She must be ma­ture and emo­tion­ally ready to deal with those de­tails. On the other hand, you don’t want to treat the sub­ject as a dark se­cret that haunts the two of you. Nei­ther do you want to be un­truth­ful and tell yarns that will later have to be ad­mit­ted.

At this early stage, I’d sug- gest that you re­spond con­fi­dently and lov­ingly to the in­evitable ques­tions about “Daddy.” When the ap­pro­pri­ate oc­ca­sions sur­face, be­gin giv­ing her vague ex­pla­na­tions that are based in truth but are short of the whole story.

You may wish to say some­thing like this, “Your daddy went away be­fore you were born. He didn’t want to live with me. I’m not sure why. Maybe he had some prob­lems that made it hard to be a hus­band. I don’t know. I’m sure if he had ever met you, he’d have loved you very much. But he left be­fore you were born. Maybe a new daddy will come to live with us. Would you like that?”

I rec­og­nize there are po­ten­tial prob­lems with a re­ply of this na­ture, and that it may not be en­tirely ap­pro­pri­ate for ev­ery case. It sim­ply at­tempts to lay the foun­da­tion for the more in-depth dis­cus­sions to fol­low. Just as im­por­tant, it likely will defuse the sit­u­a­tion early on while con­vey­ing a sense of af­fir­ma­tion, se­cu­rity, and mu­tual reliance upon the Lord. And once you’ve achieved that, take a deep breath and let it rest for awhile. If you’re at peace, your daugh­ter will be, too — and there will be am­ple time to add de­tail to the pic­ture as God di­rects.

Ques­tion: The chil­dren who play with my kids in the neigh­bor­hood are familiar with ter­ri­ble pro­grams on television and cable TV. I can’t be­lieve that their par­ents let them watch such vi­o­lent and sex­u­al­ized stuff. What is the long-term con­se­quence of this pro­gram­ming on chil­dren?

Dob­son: It is sad and very dif­fi­cult to un­der­stand why so many par­ents fail to su­per­vise what their kids watch. To those who let them watch any­thing they wish, I would pose this propo­si­tion: Sup­pose a com­plete stranger came to your door and said, “You look tired. Why don’t you let me take care of your chil­dren for a day or two?” I doubt if many of you would say, “Great idea. Come on in.”

That’s a story Peggy Char­ren, Pres­i­dent of Ac­tion for Chil­dren’s Television, likes to tell. Her point is well taken. When we sit our chil­dren in front of the television set, we’re giv­ing con­trol over them to com­plete strangers; and more and more, that’s a risky thing to do. An in­creas­ing num­ber of stud­ies have found that vi­o­lence on television fre­quently leads to later ag­gres­sive be­hav­ior by chil­dren and teenagers.

One of the most con­clu­sive stud­ies was con­ducted by Dr. Leonard D. Aaron. He ex­am­ined a group of chil­dren at age 8 and then again at 19 and fi­nally at 40. Chil­dren in the United States, Aus­tralia, Fin- land, Is­rael and Poland were stud­ied. The out­come was the same; the more fre­quently the par­tic­i­pants watched vi­o­lent television at age 8, the more likely they were to be con­victed of crimes by age 30, and the more ag­gres­sive was their be­hav­ior when drink­ing.

It’s time for par­ents to con­trol the amount and the con­tent of television that their chil­dren are watch­ing. The con­se­quences of not do­ing so can be cat­a­strophic.

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