Q: Our 16-year-old son is talking of going to a local community college after high school and living with one of his friends. He says he needs to find a job soon so he can prove to his friend’s mom that he is hard working. I was so shocked I just listened and haven't said how I feel about this whole thing. What would you say to this obviously delusional teen about his grand plans?
A: I would just nod my head and say things like “That’s very interesting” and “More power to you!” and “No man is an island.” Note that what you say doesn’t have to make a lot of sense. You would need to make sense if you had even a small chance of causing your son to realize that his fantasies are nothing but that: fantasies. That small chance does not exist; therefore, you are relieved of trying to talk him out of his “grand plans.”
Yes, your son is delusional, but anyone who is not/was not somewhat delusional at age 16 isn’t/wasn’t having any fun. Why, at age 21, married with a child, I still thought I had a shot at becoming a rock star. In fact, I still think I can become a rock star. I’m still delusional; therefore, I’m still having fun.
Let’s face it, your son’s fantasies are harmless. Furthermore, they reflect a strong need to emancipate, which is good. They also reflect the desire to become a responsible, contributing member of society. That’s double-good. In the life of every delusional teenager, reality—not the youngster’s parents—will be The Great Awakener. In the meantime, let the young man dream his dreams. Where would the human race be without its dreamers?
Q: When she is happy or receiving a lot of my attention, my 12-year-old daughter often speaks in “baby talk.” Examples: “I wub you” and “You my mommy.” When she’s in one of these moods, she constantly asks for hugs and kisses and then, if I tell her I’m busy, proceeds to whine. It may sound like this child does not receive enough affection but be assured she most certainly does. After a while it’s infuriating and just makes me want to get away from her. I’ve tried talking to her about it, but to no avail. I don’t think she even gets it. Have you heard of this before? Any ideas as to how to get her to stop?
A: Yes, I’ve heard of this before. I’ve heard everything, in fact. This is known as “post infantile articulation thrombosis.” It’s a very rare condition that can be cured with repeated beatings with foam rubber baseball bats, but if you don’t like that idea…
Sit down with her and clearly define the problem, as you see it. Don’t pull any punches. Be clear, concise, and use examples. Tell her that her baby talk eventually becomes very annoying to you and that on any given day, when you reach your limit of baby talk, you’re going to tell her, “I’ve reached my limit for today.” And by the way, your limit can be one time. That’s your parental prerogative. From that point on, every time she crosses the line her bedtime is backed up by 30 minutes because “this sort of immature behavior indicates to me that you aren’t getting enough sleep.”
Then, follow through. If you can manage to be dispassionately consistent, her PIAT should be cured in about four weeks.