Questions from Readers

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Twilight, cell phones and pets

By Gregory Ramey, PhD, child psychologist at Dayton Children's and Dayton Daily News columnist

Edition: July 29, 2010 | Topic: Questions from readers

Questions from Readers

My 9-year-old daughter is an avid reader and wants to see the movie "The Twilight Side: Eclipse." She has read the book, and weíve talked about it a great deal. The story has actually prompted several excellent discussions about love, sex and infatuations. She is an intelligent and mature youngster, but several of my friends have advised against preteens viewing this type of movie.

I honestly havenít seen the movie so itís hard to offer an opinion but given your concerns further research would be appropriate. Take a look at a very helpful website called This site gives you more than simply a movie review, but specifically describes the degree of sex, nudity, violence and profanity thatís contained within the movie.

Iíve also read that some parents have concerns about the values portrayed by some of the characters in the story. However, that may not be an issue if youíve already discussed several of those themes with your daughter.

You could always go view the movie yourself first and make your own judgment.

My 11-year-old son has his own cell phone and seems to use it responsibly. However, he sends lots of text messages, which I understand is typical of kids at his age. When Iíve asked him about this, he responded that his messages are private. Just as we wouldnít eavesdrop on a phone conversation, he said we shouldnít read his text messages. Do I have any reason to be concerned?

Absolutely. He has no right to privacy at his age and you need to exercise adequate supervision to be certain that he is using the cell phone responsibly.

Let him know that you will periodically check the content of his text messages. Make certain you are very clear on your expectations regarding civility and appropriateness of text messaging. Lots of preteens, even very responsible youngsters, are simply not emotionally or cognitively equipped to handle this technology in a responsible way.

My daughterís 7-year-old pet died several weeks ago, and she has not been herself since then. She seems moody, sad and cries a great deal. She keeps saying she misses her pet and nothing we say or do seems to matter. I havenít said this to her, but I canít understand why she is so upset.

Children can become very close to their animal friends and may grieve in ways similar to an adultís loss of a loved one. Many youngsters have described their pets as their best friends and that loss can be traumatic. Be understanding of those feelings, while at the same time do not let her use her sadness as an excuse for any type of misbehavior. Most children return to normal within several weeks. If that does not occur, then professional assistance may be appropriate.

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Dr. Ramey Gregory Ramey, PhD, is a child psychologist and vice president for outpatient services at The Children's Medical Center of Dayton. For more of his columns, visit and join Dr. Ramey on facebook at

©2010 The Children's Medical Center of Dayton. Columns may be reproduced with the permission of Dayton Children's.


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