Parenting Q & A- Adoption, Bossy children, Cell phones

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

Edition: January 6, 2008 | Topic: Questions from readers


My husband and I are desperate to adopt a child, and weíve been working with our local Child Protection Agency regarding youngsters who have been abused or neglected. I feel our family has a great deal to offer to such children.

Iíve been surprised by how much detail caseworkers want to share with us about these children. Iíd rather not have any of this information, and simply accept a child as he or she is, rather than be biased by all of this background information. Am I wrong?


You should not only listen carefully to the history given to you by the caseworker, but you should also insist upon talking with the childís physician, teacher and any mental health specialists who have worked with the youngster you are considering adopting.

Some of the most gut-wrenching situations Iíve experienced concern youngsters who were returned to foster care after they have been placed in a permanent adoptive home. Some adoptive parents are simply too naive regarding their faith that a good home can overcome an early history of trauma or neglect. You need to proceed with the adoption process with complete information. This is in the best interest of the child as well as your family.

A bad early childhood does not condemn a child to a lifetime of serious problems. However, you can better manage a childís current problems if you have a good understanding of his early childhood.


My 7-year-old boy is an absolutely delightful child at school, church and around other people, except when he is at home! His personality changes dramatically. He is bossy, demanding and very obnoxious. I canít understand how a child can be so loving in one situation and such a little tyrant with me and his dad.


Iíve seen these types of situations a lot. Typically, when children act so badly at home it is because they are allowed to do so. Examine the ways that you manage his misbehavior. Are the rules clear and specific? Are you and your husband consistent in applying reasonable consequences? Bossy children act that way because it is successful. Do you allow your child to be the boss in the family, or do you make it clear that the adults in the family are the real bosses?

If these problems persist, you might find it helpful to speak with a mental health professional to learn how to gain more control over your son before a minor problem turns into a more significant issue.


My daughter is in sixth grade and is asking for a cell phone. She says that most of the other kids in her class now have their own phones.

We can afford to buy her a phone, but I just think that she is too young to have her own phone.


Even if it is true (and Iím not sure that it actually is) that most of the other kids in her class have a cell phone, thatís not an entitlement for your daughter to get one as well. This is one of many issues that youíll need to confront over the next several years, in which you and your spouse have to decide what is best for your daughter and your family. Your guide should be your own values, not what others are doing.

When other parents have given cell phones to their kids, they typically place some reasonable restrictions on its use, including limits on usage or requiring their youngsters to work to help pay for the ongoing fee.

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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