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col Empty threats will spoil the child

Dear Ann Landers: I am a librarian and would like to comment on incompetent parents who do not know how to discipline their children.

I often see parents repeatedly telling their kids to be quiet, yet the children ignore them. Many times, a parent will say, "If you don't behave, I won't check out that video for you," yet when they reach the checkout desk, the child has the video in hand -- and his behavior has not changed. If we ask parents to take their unruly children outside, they look at us as if we are crazy. Or they become angry and rude.

Please tell people if they want polite, respectful, decent kids, they have to make sacrifices now and then in order for their children to learn proper behavior. Occasionally, that means missing out on something YOU want to do in order to teach your child a lesson.

My husband and I once paid an exorbitant admission fee to take our daughter and son to an amusement park. When our daughter acted up, we left the park -- even though we had been there less than 30 minutes. She was then excluded from all outings to this amusement park for the rest of the summer. Yes, it cost a lot of money, and my husband and son were angry and disappointed. I had to hire baby-sitters the rest of the summer, but that lesson has stayed with our daughter all her life. This kind of sacrifice is called parenting. -- Librarian in Ohio

Dear Ohio: You have made an excellent point. Parents must set appropriate rules and boundaries, and then STICK TO THEM. It does no good to threaten a punishment or promise a reward without following through. Keep your word, and your children will know they can trust, respect and depend on you.

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Dear Ann Landers: I read with interest the letter from the reader who thought her brother was the product of an affair because they didn't share the same blood type. I had a similar experience.

When my second child was born, I could not believe what a good baby she was. She seldom cried and was so pleasant that even the nurses commented. The second day in the hospital, I saw her medical chart and was surprised to discover that her blood type was A-negative. I knew that couldn't be possible. My husband and I are both B-positive, and so is our first child. I figured this wonderful baby couldn't possibly be mine, but she was so good I refused to give her up.

On my last day in the hospital, after fretting about this for hours, I told the doctor, tearfully, that she wasn't my baby and why. He laughed and explained blood typing and recessive genes. I was so relieved.

You were right to tell that sister to keep quiet. Blood types don't prove anything. -- Loving Mother in Venezuela

Dear Loving Mother: Thanks for backing me up. I heard from several readers who confirmed that blood typing can be misleading. I also heard from a few medical technicians who hauled me up short for implying that they are sloppy with their work. My apologies. Most lab technicians are dedicated and competent people, and I did not mean to suggest otherwise.

Dear Ann Landers: You printed a letter from a tall man who was annoyed because people kept asking, "How's the weather up there?" My brother is 6 feet 6 inches tall. He got tired of people asking him if he plays basketball. He now responds with, "Why, no, do you play miniature golf?" -- Sister in Ohio

Dear Ohio: That clever retort has been around for a while. My thanks for passing it along.

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