Parenting Q & A- Honesty with children, Sleepovers, Kids driving

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

Edition: July 8, 2007 | Topic: Questions from readers


I am extremely close to my 11-year-old son. He admires me as his role model and I try to never let him down. After seeing an anti-drug commercial on TV, he asked me if I ever drank alcohol or took drugs when I was younger. I was able to avoid the question, but I feel guilty about not answering him.

When I was in high school, I actually did have a serious problem with drugs. I am afraid that if I tell him the truth it will tarnish his view of me and may inadvertently give him permission to experiment with drugs. Help!


Being honest with your children doesn't mean that you have to reveal personal information. You could tell your son that there are some things that happened when you were growing up that you prefer not to talk about. While this may disappoint or concern him at one level, it may actually help him realize that you are human. All of us sometimes make mistakes and try to do better in the future.

Other parents try a somewhat different approach. They readily acknowledge what they did when they were younger, but also discuss the risks and consequences of what happened. The one thing you should never do is lie to your son. Since you did take drugs when you were younger, never tell him that you didn't.


My 5-year-old was invited for a sleepover and frankly I was very surprised. I know sleepovers are very common with kids these days, but I didn't know it began at such a young age.

I am generally comfortable with the family and where he would be staying, but this just doesn't feel right to me. I don't want to hurt the family's feelings, but I can't think of a logical reason why I should decline the invitation. Even so, I don't want to leave him there for the night.


If for whatever reason you are uncomfortable allowing your 5-year-old to have a sleepover, don't send him. Don't feel you have to justify your gut reaction to another family, your child, or anyone else. Be confident and comfortable enough in your own values and feelings to simply tell the family that you appreciate the invitation, but you do not wish to begin sleepovers at his age. Nothing further needs to be said, explained, justified or rationalized.


My daughter is 15 years old and is eligible to obtain a learner's permit to drive. I am surprised that she has shown no initiative to get her license. Several of her friends have enrolled in a local driver's education class, but so far she has not shown any interest.

Frankly, I can't wait for her to drive as it would relieve a tremendous amount of stress in our family, but I don't want to pressure her. Any suggestions?


Don't say anything to your daughter. Not all 15-year-olds have a passion about driving. While I realize it can be a hassle driving her to various activities, recognize that this also presents a wonderful opportunity for you to be with your daughter. There won't be many of these days left, so enjoy them while you can.

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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