Jan 18

 A story.

            Mrs. A thought she heard a light tapping at her front door. When it persisted, she got up to investigate. At peek-hole level, she saw no one, but when she opened the door, she was delighted to see her next-door neighbor, five-year-old Lucy standing there. “Well,” she said cheerily, “it’s my friend Lucy! Come in Lucy.”

             Instead of her usual bright aura and charm, Lucy looked pale and grim. Something was amiss. No time for small talk so Mrs. A got right to the point. “What’s on your mind, Lucy?” “Do you have a gun?,” Lucy mumbled. Flabbergasted, the older woman needed time to recover – to process what she had just heard. With the sound of urgency in her voice, Lucy asked again, “Do you have a gun I can have right now?” “Well, now, Lucy, what would you do with the gun?” “I want to kill my Daddy,” she answered.

 Do you talk to your children about the evil events that occur in the world?

            I was 14 years old when I heard of a brutal act committed against a single individual during the Second World War. Now, 73 years later, I still shudder at the image that report implanted in my memory. In fact, any image of human or animal desecration stays and stays in my head. I know only too well that the horrors of that war stole my childhood from me.

                        I’ve written about necessary conversations before, but I recently received an email from a reader (bless her heart!) asking for my thoughts on a situation with her young daughter. It gives me the opportunity to shed more light on the importance of necessary conversations. In brief, Rebecca’s eight-year-old daughter, Leah, agreed not to have a treat before she went to bed. Shortly thereafter, Rebecca went out for the evening and when she returned home, the treat was missing. She told Leah she knew she had taken it and Leah apologized. Now, Rebecca wanted to know what I thought was an appropriate “consequence.” Here was my reply:

This column was inspired by a discussion I had with a group of high school girls. The topic was “What goes into making a relationship healthy? When it was over, I could hardly wait to share it with you!

I began by asking the girls to describe the qualities people would need to establish healthy relationships. They responded with a list of very fine “ingredients” – trust, love, communication, empathy, and so on; important as these are, I told them that none will work without another I would add later.

         I LOVE my smart phone! I hardly ever leave home without it. On the rare occasion when I do forget to take it with me, I feel vulnerable and insecure. I love the immediate help I can get if I’m driving in unfamiliar places or lost and my husband’s voice on the phone will gently guide me home. I love having access to the treasure trove of facts I can have at my fingertips to add to everyday conversations. But darn it, in the hands of us poor mortals, these gadgets pose a number of troubling problems for us, for our families, and for society.

Blended Families 749 Words

For this column on "blended" families, I interviewed Beth Land Hecht, Senior Manager of Volunteer Services at Jewish Community Services. Working with Jewish Big Brothers and Big Sisters gives Ms. Hecht a bird's eye view of the challenges facing remarried parents and their children. She prefers to call these families "combined" rather than "blended" because the latter suggests a smooth transition for remarried parents, step-parents, children, and step-children after a divorce, or the death of a parent. The fact is, for some couples and their children, it is a bumpy ride over rough terrain, and for others, it is a successful evolution of a new family.

Book Review

Dr. Murray Kappelman, a Baltimore pediatrician for over 50 years has written another parenting book. I was eager to read and review it despite its presumptuous subtitle: "The ONE and ONLY Discipline Book (as it appears on the book cover) with a picture of a mother and her young son facing off. Though this grandfatherly doctor knows one-size-fits-all advice can't be applied to the panoply of personalities that comprise the human family, he proposes a single approach to discipline that he believes will instill good values and good conduct in children.

October 2014

Dear Reader: I hope you will forgive me if this column sounds more like a sermon than an opinion, but you see, I'm scared and worried and deeply pained for the millions of children in America who live in constant fear of being bullied. And I think we can do something about it. So, sermon or not, I am motivated by a statement attributed to Edmund Burke: "All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men [and women] to do nothing."

A number of years ago, the folks at the Fund for Educational Excellence invited me to present a workshop for front office staffs in Baltimore city schools. The objective of the workshop was to teach them how to create a calm and welcoming atmosphere for parents. As a communication "expert," I planned to demonstrate how to deal effectively with the army of angry parents that thundered into their offices every day. With complete confidence in my widely-recognized skill of attentive listening, we role-played a typical encounter with me playing the part of the staff member and a staff member played the part of the irate parent.           


Meet Dr. Markham    

            Meet psychologist, Dr. Laura Markham. If you haven't already done so, you can find her on her website, ahaparenting.com. Dr. Markham's consistently wise


What a pity! What a shame!

Why do parents play this game?

Comparing kids should not be done!

Comparing kids is not good for anyone!

(With apologies to Dr. Seuss.)

I am passing along to you a delightful anecdote a grandfather shared with me because it so clearly demonstrates a principle in my book that he credited for its happy outcome. The actual incident involved five-year-old Adam* and his grandparents. However, I inserted a fictional Mom to illustrate some common parent responses in contrast to Grandpa’s.

as seen in Baltimore's Child Magazine