Physician to parents: You're doing it wrong

Published: Monday, January 18, 2016 @ 10:49 AM
Updated: Monday, January 18, 2016 @ 10:51 AM

Family physician, psychologist and author Leonard Sax wants parents to know that they are “raising kids wrong.” The author of “Boys Adrift” and “Girls on the Edge” has written a new book, “The Collapse of Parenting: How We Hurt our Kids when We Treat them Like Grown-Ups.

“Most American parents are completely confused and going utterly in the wrong direction,” Sax said. “There’s a collapse of understanding what parenting involves.”

>>Follow-up: See parents' reaction to Dr. Sax's advice

In his book, Sax offers a scenario in which parents and a 6-year-old child, who had a sore throat, came into his office. When he said, “Next I’m going to take a look at your throat,” the mother asked for the child's permission, saying, “Do you mind if the doctor looks in your throat for just a second, honey? Afterward we can go and get some ice cream.”

That led to the child refusing to have the doctor look in her throat to do the strep test and the child having to be restrained to get the test accomplished.

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“It’s not a question,” Sax said. “It’s a sentence: ‘Open up and say, 'Ahh.'' Parents are incapable of speaking to their children in a sentence that ends in a period,” he said. “Every sentence ends in a question mark.”

Some parenting experts told adults that they should offer their children choices instead of telling them what to do and parents believed them, he said.

The hierarchy of parent over child no longer exists, he said. Instead of parents exercising their authority because they know what’s best, they are focusing on making children happy and boosting their self-esteem.

“They now see their job as facilitating whatever a kid wants to do,” he said.

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Instead, Sax said, a parent's job is to teach children right from wrong, teach them the meaning of life and keep their children safe.

“In doing that job, you’re going to do a lot of things a child won’t approve of and not understand,” he said. Sometimes, you have to be the bad guy.

According to Sax, parents should focus on helping children develop skills such as self-control, humility and conscientiousness, meaning they think of people other than themselves.

Those things are the biggest predictors of future success in adulthood, he said, not education or affluence.

Sax said this is a generation of parents who are spending more time with children than any previous generation. But instead of spending time at family meals, this generation is spending time shuttling children from one extracurricular activity to the next or spending time doing their work for them.

“It doesn’t help to spend more time with kids if they are spending it in the wrong ways,” Sax said.

In his book, Sax cites numerous research studies that found that a lack of parental authority is why obesity is on the rise, why more kids are on anti-anxiety and attention deficit disorder medication, why children are have a culture of disrespect, seem fragile, and why American children no longer lead the world in education.

He offered some solutions:

Have family meals at home and make that a top priority. “You have to communicate that our time together as a parent and child is more important than anything else,” he said. One study found that for each additional meal a family had together, the children were less likely to internalize problems such as anxiety or externalize problems such as skipping school. It also helped children develop good nutrition habits, lessening the obesity problem.

Take screens out of the bedroom. This includes cellphones, computers, TVs and video games. Kids are chronically sleep deprived, which leads to poor behavior and can even be the reason why kids are getting mental health diagnosis.

Put screens in public places and limit how they are used. This generation lives life in a virtual world. Online friends can quickly become more important than the friends children see in person. They don’t know how to communicate with someone face to face or have outside interests and hobbies. Video games also rewire the way their brains work. And what they post online never goes away. Install software like My Mobile Watchdog, which will share every photo that they take or post with you.

Teach humility. Give lessons that show children that they are not the most important people in the world. They need to be able to see the world through another lens and be able to handle rejection or failure. It really cannot be “everybody gets a trophy.”

Have an alliance between the school and you. If your child did something, don’t approach  teachers or administrators with suspicion and distrust. “Parents swoop in like attorneys demanding evidence,” Sax said. Instead lessons of honesty and integrity should be enforced. That means that a brilliant kid who cheated takes the 0.

Parent what they do. No, your 14-year-old cannot go to a party with college students or to the beach for spring break. No, they will not be at parties where alcohol is served, and you will not be the one serving it. You have to think of worst-case scenarios like drinking and driving, alcohol poisoning and sexual assault, and know that these are not decisions that they are ready to make because they are not adults. They need an adult, and that’s you. And even if their peers’ parents are fine with something, you don’t have to be. “Other parents don’t have a clue at what they are doing,” Sax said. “That’s why what they are doing doesn’t have good outcomes.”

Some of those things, especially if they are new for your family, can be difficult and might be hard to enforce. Sax recommends persistence and commitment.

Grieving grandfather handed a toddler $20 in target for the most heartbreaking reason

Published: Monday, September 18, 2017 @ 4:08 PM

An Oklahoma mother took to Facebook on Sunday to share a heartwarming story about a kind gesture that happened in an aisle at Target.

Alyssa Hacker, of Coweta, Oklahoma, was at the Fort Smith Target when her young son grabbed three dinosaur toys off the shelf.

“Owen grabbed all three and we were trying to pick out which one he wanted when Owen abruptly yelled, “Hi,” at this older man walking past us,” Hacker wrote. “He turned around and said, ‘Hey sweet boy.'”

As he continued to play with the dinosaurs, the man got his wallet, pulled out $20 and put it in the pocket of Owen’s shirt and said, “I just lost my 2-year-old grandson last week. You take this money and buy this boy all three dinosaurs.”

He rubbed Owen’s back, wiped away his tears and walked off.

this momma just cried in the middle of Target. We were at target waiting on Grammi and we found some dinosaurs. Owen...

Posted by ColbyandAlyssa Hacker on Saturday, September 16, 2017

The touching moment that Hacker shared on Facebook has since been shared over 100,000 times.

“There is still some good in this world,” she added.

Hurricane Irma threatens birthday of 3-year-old girl with leukemia until nurses step in: ‘It’s so touching,’ says mom

Published: Wednesday, September 13, 2017 @ 1:12 PM

Just two days before Hurricane Irma hit Florida on Willow Stine’s third birthday, the toddler’s family received heartbreaking news: Willow had leukemia and would need to be admitted to the hospital immediately for chemotherapy treatment.

As the hurricane roared in, Willow’s mother, Jennifer Stine, 39, quickly realized that she’d brought nothing with her to the hospital to celebrate Willow’s birthday that weekend. She didn’t have a cake, decorations or presents, and Willow’s dad, Shaun, and 4-year-old sister, Eden, were hunkered down at home in Wesley Chapel, Florida, 45 miles away.

“Friday was the scariest moment of my life, and the hurricane on Sunday only compounded it,” Jennifer tells PEOPLE. “I didn’t think that I could take much more. It was overwhelming.”

Besides worrying about Willow and her cancer diagnosis, she felt frantic being away from Shaun, a beekeeper, and Eden, wondering if they’d be safe in the storm. “And to pile on top of that, I had nothing for Willow’s birthday,” she says. “We’d rushed to the hospital with nothing but the clothes on our backs.”

>> FDA approves new leukemia treatment, costs $475k

She soon realized, though, that there was no need to worry about honoring her daughter on her special day.

Nurses at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg rallied to make Willow’s birthday a memorable one, even as their own homes were threatened by high winds and rising floodwaters.

After ordering a vanilla birthday cake from a local bakery, blowing up balloons and taping “Happy Birthday” decorations to the walls, nurses searched through an assortment of new toys donated to the hospital and found a bubble machine, Play-Doh, books, games and a doll to wrap up for Willow. 

“Watching Willow open her gifts helped us to forget what a scary situation we were in (with the hurricane),” registered nurse Lindsay Jones, 36, tells PEOPLE. “Every time she opened something she said, ‘I’ve always wanted this,’ and that made us all laugh and smile. It was the perfect distraction to what was happening outside.”

>> Widower posts photo of wife in dream wedding gown that he never saw her wear

Adds Kelly Boyd, 25, a child life specialist at the hospital: “They just found out they have a long road ahead of them, but at least she and her mom can remember this. If we can change even little moments throughout the day for a family, then that’s something rewarding and worth doing.”

At the party on Sunday afternoon, Willow beamed and laughed in a “Little Mermaid” nightgown as a dozen hospital staffers presented her with a vanilla cake and sang “Happy Birthday.” Jennifer softly wept, grateful for the nurses’ comforting intervention while rain and wind pounded the windows outside. 

“It was such a stressful time for everyone with that hurricane bearing down — you could feel a sense of urgency in the halls,” she tells PEOPLE. “But the nurses put all of that aside and went all out to give Willow a birthday party. It’s so touching that they go above and beyond what they have to do on a child’s birthday or any day.”

It was only a few weeks ago that Jennifer noticed that Willow seemed more tired than usual and had become unusually pale. She thought her daughter might have a caught a stomach bug at first, but blood work ordered by Willow’s pediatrician revealed that the toddler had acute lymphocytic leukemia.

>> Boy battling cancer graduates 8 grades in single day

“It’s the scariest, most shocking news any parent can receive,” says Jennifer, “but you know you have to be strong for your child.”

Willow started chemotherapy this week and will likely need treatments for the next two-and-a-half years, says her mom.

“Right now, she’s in good spirits, enjoying using a toy stethoscope to listen to her dolls’ and stuffed animals’ hearts,” Jennifer tells PEOPLE. “Our lives have been completely changed, but we have a lot of hope, and part of that is because of the amazing people who took the time to brighten my daughter’s time in the hospital.

“Their kindness and compassion will never be forgotten.”

OK to curse in front of your kids? Facebook post sparks debate

Published: Sunday, July 16, 2017 @ 5:46 PM

Women Are Now Swearing More Than Men Says New Study

A woman in Australia is making the case for cursing in front of children.

Constance Hall, an Australian blogger and mom, shared her theories in a Facebook post that went viral, and the Today Show further added to the discussion.

In the post, Hall points out that she has let some reactionary swear words slip while in the presence of her children, but she feels the cursing isn’t a big issue. Hall said she doesn’t need to teach her children they can’t use swear words, and that they instinctively know it isn’t allowed.

“But my kids have never sworn, they know, mum can. We can't,” Hall says in the post.

She added that one of her children has begun to curse, but she believes it was influenced by friends, not her.

A Today Show poll on Twitter found that 67 percent of 3,252 voters do not agree with Hall. But the show’s child development expert, Dr. Deborah Gilboa, backs up her claims.

"The rule here is: You can swear. But you can't swear where an adult or a child younger than you can hear," Gilboa said. "Treating people respectfully matters, so if they feel swearing around them is disrespectful, don't do it."

WARNING: Facebook post contains raw language not safe for the workplace. Click here to read it.

Read more at the Today Show.

Mother shares heartbreak over son's baby blanket death to warn other parents

Published: Thursday, July 06, 2017 @ 6:05 PM

Mother Shares Heartbreak Over Son's Baby Blanket Death To Warn Other Parents

A Washington mother is sharing the heartbreaking details of her infant son's death to warn other parents and prevent another accidental death from occurring.

In a lengthy Facebook post, Jordan DeRosier explains how her 7-month-old son, Sloan, died on July 3. She says she put him to bed with two blankets, and when she went in the next morning to wake him, his head was caught in one of the blankets. His body was ice-cold. The blanket became tangled in the bed rails and her son’s head got stuck inside the blanket, DeRosier said.

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(DeRosier is pictured with her older son in the July 4 Facebook post.)

Family and first responders attempted to revive Sloan, but he was pronounced dead at the scene.

In her post, she warns and pleads other parents: "You never think it will happen to you. You never think it will be your baby. Please do not put your babies to bed with a blanket."

She ends her post by saying, “Please learn from my world shattering mistake.”

DeRosier also decided to go public about her son's tragic death because she said anti-vaccine activists were blaming her son's death on vaccines, so she felt the need to set the record straight.