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Hot Topics: Readers answer child-rearing questions

Kris Hey • Jan 28, 2014 at 9:11 AM

Orlando Sentinel


A few weeks ago, I asked for your answers to some child-rearing questions, ones many moms face and don’t always know the answers to.

Here’s a sampling of some terrific and helpful answers. Thanks to all who tweeted, e-mailed and commented back. I know these are helpful to me and likely to many of you.

Here are the questions, and your answers:

1. At what age should your child stop going to the pediatrician and go to a regular doctor?

— Cassie from Orlando (Fla.): “My 16-year-old son has decided that he is too old to go to a pediatrician, and I can’t blame him. Every time we go he is surrounded by toddlers, and he is six feet tall. So I asked the doctor when was a good age to make the switch, and (he) said if he was uncomfortable with the current situation they would be happy to give him a referral to a family practitioner.”

— Kathy from DeLand (Fla.): “Some doctors will continue seeing their young patients until the age of 21, but I believe 16 is a good age to begin going to a regular doctor, if the child is starting to feel awkward going to a ‘baby doctor.’ If the child is comfortable, then let them go until the age limit is reached.” Kathy, a mother of two and grandmother of 3, also answers a great question that I did not mention, probably because I have a boy, 11: “Girls should also make their first visit to a gynecologist at this age if they haven’t already.”

— Vladamir (from our comment boards): “My 17-year-old went to his pediatrician for his shots before leaving for college, and don’t forget Ross on Friends was still seeing his pediatrician :-)”

— Bithlonian (from our comment boards): “In our family it was a (rite) of passage at 14.”

2. At what age — or maybe it’s not an age — should boys and girls start wearing deodorant?

— Kathy from DeLand: “When they start needing it. Little kids shouldn’t use deodorant. Why expose them to even more chemicals? When a child reaches puberty, some of them have the body odor that comes with it. Due to body hair, chemistry or hormones…with some kids it’s a must. Play it by ear, or, in this case, by nose.” (Good answer, Kathy!)

— Bithlonian suggests when they start to smell bad. “My first daughter was 17; my youngest was 12.”

— Vladamir: “As a mom, you will notice if they start to smell differently before anyone else does. My 12-year-old daughter still has no ‘odor’ even after being outside most of the day while my 10-year-old son started wearing it last year.”

3. What’s the going rate for allowance these days, and what should it cover?

— Kathy from DeLand: “Let the child earn money. (It) teaches them responsibility. Mowing yard: $15. Raking leaves: $10. Washing car: $10, etc. Set the price for each special chore, and the child will learn that if they want money for something they have to work for it. This is not for everyday chores which should be expected and not rewarded.”

— Bithlonian: “My dad would negotiate our allowance. The price started at the cost of school lunches. If we wanted to spend the money another way then we had to pack our own lunches. Dad’s idea was to teach money management and with money comes obligations. It was also based on needs not wants, he didn’t want his children to feel ‘privileged.’ By 14 we were all working for our extra money and spending it any way we wanted.”

— Vladamir: “Depends on what their chores are. Set a series of chores and an allowance to cover them and then offer up additional chores for additional allowance. NEVER give an allowance without work. If you do it this way, you will find that they come to you for more work when they want to buy something. We also never buy ‘frivolous’ items for them, we split the cost so they get a feel for how much things cost.”

And now for the more difficult questions:

4. How would you handle your child seeing his or her friend being verbally or physically abused by a family member or relative?

— Kathy from DeLand: “The child should be able to tell their parents what they saw or heard. The parent should then contact DCF (the Department of Children and Families) or law enforcement to report the abuse. There should be no confrontation between parties. This could make it worse for the child being abused. Also, make sure that your child tells the victim that they can come to your house as a safe haven if necessary.”

— Bithlonian: “My kids were very verbal. If they saw something they thought was wrong they told me, and we would discuss what should be done about it, if anything. Like their parents, they wanted people to do the right thing.”

— Vladamir: “Counsel them that the person inflicting abuse was wrong, and it is never right to proceed that way and try to keep them out of that situation as much as possible. Offer a ‘safe haven’ for the friend to spend time at your home (if you are comfortable with it).”

5. What age do you think is appropriate for your son or daughter to start dating and why?

— Vladamir: “Girls: 35, boys: 16.”

— Kathy from DeLand: “One-on-one dates at 16 or 17, depending on the maturity of the child. Prior to that, they can go on group dates or parent drop off/pick up dates, also depending on the level of responsibility of the child. (It) kind of helps if one of the parties involved can drive a car without a chaperone.”

— Bithlonian: “I’m a traditionalist. 13 and 14 daytime group activities with or without an adult, 13 and 14 night activities must have an adult. (Age) 15 double-dating, and no single dating until 16, and then no private activities. I added requirements to these guidelines that included grade level and grades: No single dating until you were a junior. I made it a rite of passage.

“I also explained to my children that hormones are in control at this age and will cause them to do things that they will never do in their right minds, and it causes them to do things that can affect them negatively for the rest of their lives. I was open and honest about sex and why people date is to find a mate ... The best time to teach your children about dating is before the hormones kick in and make sure they know your guidelines at a very early age. Never go back on your guidelines no matter how much it hurts your heart to see your child upset. As you know it causes much conflict in a family if you break the rules for one and not all.”


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