Parenting Q & A- Parental affection, stepparents, commercialism

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

Edition: May 18, 2008 | Topic: Questions from readers


My husband and I are openly affectionate in front of our children. We hug and kiss each other, but there is no "making out" or sexual contact. I don't feel there is anything wrong with this, but my mother-in-law expressed concern about our behavior being a bad example for my 5-, 7- and 11-year-old children.


There's nothing wrong with hugging or kissing between parents. Rather than being a bad role model, this is a great example to kids about the appropriate expression of affection between two people who love each other. Kids learn more by what we do than what we say. Your displays of affection in front of the children will teach them a very appropriate lesson.


My 5-year-old daughter does not know her biological father. She refers to her stepfather as her dad, and is unaware that her biological father is actually someone else. He is out of my life forever and my daughter will never meet him. I see no reason to tell her the truth and destroy her world. She loves her daddy so much, and I think it would hurt her to know that someone else was her real father. However, I am fearful that she may find out when she is older and then get angry with me. Any suggestions?


The relationship with your daughter should be based upon a foundation of trust and honesty. There is no reason to keep the truth from your daughter regarding her biological father. However, keep your discussion simple and factual. You may wish to obtain some books from the library regarding similar situations, as children your daughter's age can relate well to such stories.

Throughout these discussions, emphasize that her daddy who has been raising her, loving her and caring for her, will continue to be her father. I suspect she will have very few issues at her age, but there may be more questions as your daughter gets older.


At a recent parent's meeting, another mom gave out some reward calendars from a national food chain designed to help kids with such things as potty training, brushing teeth and keeping rooms clean. This franchise apparently gives out tokens or rewards to the kids when they successfully complete the reward chart.

This seems like crash commercialism and bribery to me. My kids learned to do these things on their own, without being paid for doing them. Am I wrong?


Kids and families are different. What works for one child may not be successful for another.

You are correct in that most kids learn these tasks on their own, and don't need the extra incentive of a reward. However, many parents have successfully used such charts. I think of them like a cast on a broken arm. It's something a child may need for awhile, but not something you want to keep in place forever.

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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