Saturday, December 30, 2006

Dear Abby

I have been home this holiday week with my family, so posting has been difficult. Also, I missed this letter in "Dear Abby".
A small excerpt: "My problem is, Todd is so open with how he feels that he comes across as being rude, argumentative and disrespectful. He tells me that he's not trying to be, that he's just voicing his opinion and how he feels -- and that should not be wrong. In some ways, my son is right. But trying to teach him that there's a time and place for his opinions has proven extremely difficult."
Here is Abby's response:
"DEAR FEELING LOST AND GUILTY: Explain that honesty is a virtue -- unless it is used as a club to hurt others. Diplomacy is a skill that has to be learned. There is a time and place for everything, and before your son shoots off his mouth he should ask himself three questions: Is it kind? Is it helpful? Is it true? Instruct him that he needs to apply that rule to his interactions with his teachers and contemporaries.
If the young man is unable to do that, he could benefit by being evaluated by a licensed mental health professional because he may need therapy or coaching in social skills."

The replies from readers have been interesting too:

"Here I go, sounding like an old fogy, but "Feeling Lost and Guilty" (11/5), who said she and her loudmouthed, snotty son are "best friends," has brought her problem on herself. The No. 1 problem of parents today is that they try to be friends with their children rather than parents. Back when I was his age, parents were parents to their children -- not friends. There is a difference!"
Abby writes:
DEAR DISAPPOINTED: You are correct in saying that some parents shirk their responsibility by refusing to be firm with their children as well as responsible role models. However, before painting all parents of children with social problems with the same broad brush, please read on:
DEAR ABBY: Thank you for advising the mother of "Todd," the teen who doesn't know how to keep his mouth shut, to seek an evaluation. If the boy has a problem with empathy, it could be that he has Asperger's syndrome, an increasingly more common form of mild autism. This is a social disability, often more noticeable in the teenage years, when social expectations are more sophisticated. I should know -- I am a school psychologist and also the mother of a 13-year-old with Asperger's. -- MOM IN BERKELEY, CALIF.

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