Category Archives: Parenting


1) How does John know he’s gay? He didn’t date any girls in high school. Maybe the REASON he didn’t date any girls in high school is BECAUSE he’s gay. JOHN knows he’s gay. All his friends know he’s gay. His parents are the only one who somehow didn’t notice. 2) A kid falls off…Read the full article

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Your relationship with your child is the smallest unit of community. Your relationship with your child is the smallest building block of culture. Your relationship with your child is what defines your family. Home may be the place where, “when you have to go there, they have to take you in,” but family is the…Read the full article


My child hit all developmental milestones-sitting up, crawling, walking, talking-significantly ahead of his peers. My child enrolled at a competitive pre-school. My child got all As in advanced classes at his highly-rated high school. My child attended a college that rejects more than 90% of its applicants. My child was admitted to a medical school…Read the full article

Footsie Pajamas

Throughout evolutionary history, to a first approximation, everybody was seriously starving. Potiphar may have had access to seven silos of grain, but your average John Q. Egyptian didn’t feel completely comfortable about where his next meal was coming from–what with Ray Kroc some five thousand years off. In the generations before the cultivation of what…Read the full article

Goodnight Moon

Here’s what’s wrong with all those “tough love,” “timeout,” “logical consequences,” “spare the rod and spoil the child” versions of parenting. The problem is that, if properly applied, they work as advertised. Be careful what you wish for. Skinnerian, punitive, behavioral ideas about how to bully your child into submission will indeed force your child…Read the full article


"I went home at 2:00 with a 10. I woke up at 10 with a 2" resonates as unfortunately in this generation as in the one in which the lyric was written. Or as an advice, columnist wrote, "If you want to catch a trout, don't go fishing in a herring barrel". Stated more concisely: "if you go to bars to meet potential sexual partners, you are likely to meet potential sexual partners who go to bars." 

If, on the other hand, you are looking to connect with the person with whom you may be sitting by the fire 40 years hence leafing through photos of generations of family camping trips, you may wish to consider the likely whereabouts of said individual at 2:00 am. I am not arguing against a culture of hook ups. I am suggesting that you be aware of what is likely to be available at a given venue and hour. I am not casting aspersions at any specific drinking hole. Nor am I casting a stone at any particular potential sexual partner. I would not want the stone to get an STD. 

I am making a distinction between what you say you're looking for and what you are likely to end up with. If you want sober romance, remembering that "nothing good happens after midnight" might be a good place to start. Long term romance is less likely to begin in a venue known for short term assignation. Go to a bar if you will. Just be aware that the library is closed.

In parenting, a distinction must be made between what you SAY you're looking for in your beloved children and what your parenting style is likely to engender. If you are focused on behavior rather than the underlying reason for your child's behavior, you may be on the path to Disappointment Avenue. If you are concerned with compliance for example, at best you will get kids to do what you insist upon. But WHY kids do their homework or clean their rooms is as important in the long term as WHY the potential sexual partner goes home with you. Kids who comply because they are terrified of parental disapproval are no better in the long run than potential sexual partners who acquiesce only because they are, for example, thoroughly shnockered and incapable of making an informed decision. 

Because ultimately what you want is a 10-year-old who comes to you with an open heart and says "Hey Dad, do you want to play Parcheesi?" In the bright recesses of your soul, you can be overjoyed that your child is learning arithmetic and probability (What are the odds of throwing three doubles in a row?) In the present, you can be fundamentally ecstatic that you and your kid can hang out and have fun. What you don't want is a kid who does what you say but hates you in his heart. 

At the risk of beating the analogy into submission, there is something exquisite to be said for the bonuses that come with long term, committed monogamy--the joys of physical intimacy in the short-term, grandchildren in the long run. Similarly, the more you enjoy being with your child, the less time you will spend telling him what to do. 

Because so much of parenting is about getting your kids to _comply_. Brush your teeth, clean your room, do your homework, go to medical school. Perhaps the sophisticated reader can add even more examples of what you feel it is in your children's best interest to do. Why your child complies--or not--is what it's all about. You have not convinced a man just because you have silenced him. Or as a politician might have said, "it's the relationship, stupid." I might add, If you want your child to grow up to be a trout, do not treat him like he is a herring. 



There may be some child somewhere for whom higher SAT scores will be important in the college admissions process. For your child, the chances are that higher SAT scores won’t matter at all in determining where she is admitted. Bold statements, I know. But after 30-something years of counseling students and their families about choosing…Read the full article