Dear Amy: My wife and I have a 5-year-old son who has vision and hearing disabilities, but is very social. He doesn’t always pick up on social cues, but is always interested in meeting new friends, and his mom and I encourage this.
However, occasionally we run into children at the park, museum, etc., that are less than kind. Most often these kids don’t have an adult supervising them, or if they do, they’re drinking wine at a picnic table a hundred yards away.
I’m wondering what the proper response is for a child (that isn’t mine) who is going up the slide backward while other kids are coming down, or throwing bark in the face of a child who has already requested that he stop. I’ve tried your usual, balanced, patient tone, but typically it leads to more aggression
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Dear Parent: You supervise your son closely, and given his challenges this is important. Young children will often try to push boundaries on the playground, and this is one vital function of play. But a child also needs to learn to respect basic safety rules.
If a child is climbing up the slide while others are coming down and you don’t see an adult nearby, you should say, “Hi there. You shouldn’t climb backward up the slide because the other kids are trying to slide down. Use the stairs, OK?” If the child hears you, considers his options, and continues the behavior, you should ask, “Do you have a grown-up with you?” Find out where the adult is, and ask the adult, “Could you move closer to the slide? I think your child needs some closer supervision.” Understand that that child, like yours, may have special challenges.
If a child is throwing bark at another child and no other adult is present, you should say, “You know we don’t throw bark. You need to find a different way to play.” Many parents are tolerant of having others step in with respectful corrections, but if a parent responds with aggression, you should back away, and you should never touch another child, unless you are saving him from harm.
Dear Amy: My boyfriend and I have a great relationship. From the get-go, we have had open communication and my girlfriends have advised me to “make your own relationship rules,” and we do.
This leads into some age-old issues. He pays for most of our dates, but sometimes I take him out. I feel that it is only fair for me to show him my appreciation. I also open my own car door and sometimes hold the door for him when walking into a building. I find nothing wrong with any of this.
My parents feel that he should be opening all car and building doors for me, as well as paying for any and all meals and activities.
They say this shows that he wants to take care of me and that he puts me first. They say I should expect this of him.
I feel that how we handle paying for dates is our choice. What is wrong with holding my own door, or holding a door for him? We are equals in this relationship.
It surprises me that my parents are so adamant about this. My mom has raised her daughters to be strong and independent, but now she is expecting me to be “meek” and to expect a man to take care of trivial tasks.
We will be adhering to these “rules” when around my parents, in order to not make waves.
Do you think this is the right thing to do?
Dear Happy: Um, no. I think your parents letting you adhere to your own relationship rules is the right thing (for them) to do.
You don’t say how old you are or why you are sharing details about your dating life with your folks, but I suggest that you run your healthy relationship however you want to. You could discourage your parents’ comments by learning how to draw some boundaries and by assuring them only of your happiness. Tell them, “Mom, dad – I’ve got this.”
Dear Amy: I agreed with your response to “Worried Future Mom,” concerning her in-laws’ desire to have their aggressive dogs around a newborn. This is a preventable hazard. However, you could have suggested Skype calls as a safe way to keep in touch without the danger of the dogs.
Dear Reader: Great suggestion. Thank you very much!
Email Amy at firstname.lastname@example.org.