Dear Abby: My boyfriend of four years, "Harold," and I are starting to discuss marriage and starting a family. I am hesitant because of one thing: We have very different views about disciplining children.
My parents never used violence as a form of punishment, and I don't want to use it to discipline my kids. I think that other methods of discipline work just as well, without destroying the bond between parent and child.
When Harold was young, his father would discipline the kids by hitting them with a belt. Harold sees nothing wrong with this, although the only argument seems to be, "I turned out OK."
This is only partially true. Both Harold and his brother have big anger management issues. I love him and would love to spend the rest of my life with him, but this is a major issue for me.
Do you think this marriage would work, and are there any good compromises we could agree on? —Non-Violent in St. Louis
Dear Non-Violent: Your boyfriend may believe that he has turned out OK, but the fact that he has anger management problems proves that he didn't. Before any decisions about marriage are made, Harold should get professional help to get to the root of his problems, which are likely the result of his father's abuse.
You and Harold should enroll in classes on child development and parenting. Some hospitals, high schools and community colleges offer them. Unless the two of you can reach a firm agreement about this subject, you should NOT marry.
The marriage would last only until he raised a hand or a belt to you or your little one — and then it would be history, and rightly so. Children respond far better to praise than to punishment. The only thing that hitting a child proves is that violence is acceptable.
Dear Abby: I am employed by a national company to tutor high school students, one-on-one. For various reasons, I suspect that one of my students — with whom I meet every one or two weeks — may be smoking pot.
From a professional perspective, I feel this is none of my business. From a personal perspective, and as a parent myself, I am agonizing over whether I should bring my suspicions to the attention of his parent. If I were his parent, I would certainly want to know. Then again, my suspicions could be wrong. What is the ethical thing to do? —Unsure in Concord, Calif.
Dear Unsure: Your student's welfare IS your business. It's refreshing to know that someone is debating the "ethical" thing to do these days. If media reports are accurate, they lead us to believe that ethics have gone the way of the dinosaur.
Before approaching your student's parent, talk to the boy about your concerns. His problem may be something other than pot. At least give him a chance to explain. However, if your suspicions persist, by all means tell his parent what you have told me. You'll be doing both of them a favor.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.
© Universal Press Syndicate