- The Washington Times - Saturday, August 5, 2006

My wife and I are thinking of adopting an 8-year-old female orphan we hosted this summer from overseas. Our two girls, ages 10 and 7, are not thrilled about the idea, however. They interacted with the 8-year-old fairly well, but they also had their share of conflicts. We are concerned that the adoption could harm our girls in some way we cannot foresee. Could we unknowingly damage our girls by moving forward without their consent in this matter?

A: I don’t think “harm” and “damage” are accurate terms, but I do think you would be unwise to adopt this child without your girls’ consent. They certainly are old enough to have valid feelings concerning this matter, and you would be asking for trouble if you did not take those feelings into consideration. Furthermore, I generally caution against adopting a child who is older than a child already in the family. Doing so upsets the established sibling order and can result in resentment and more sibling conflict and general family disruption than it’s worth. Your hearts are in the right place, but I think this is a time to listen to your heads.

Q: My 17-year-old son came home with a large red hickey on his neck, presumably given to him by his girlfriend. I’m inclined to forbid them from seeing each other for a month or so, but I know from reading your column over the years that you probably would call that micromanagement. What would you recommend I do?

A: You’re absolutely right. I think trying to forbid the relationship for any length of time would be micromanagement of the highest order. It also would be fruitless, counterproductive and a bit melodramatic.

Listen, if all your son and his girlfriend are doing is giving each other hickeys, you should count your lucky stars. I also suspect that if this is the worst problem you can submit to me, things probably are going quite well in general. In that case, I would leave well-enough alone. At the very most, you can casually point out to him that a person with self-respect would not display something of that sort in public, hand him some makeup and walk away, never to mention it again.

Q: My husband and I agree that our two girls, ages 7 and 9, should make their beds and keep their rooms neat and clean, but I am for giving them Sunday off where chores are concerned, and he feels they should do chores every day. What do you think?

A: I see no problem with a day off for household chores that do not have to be done on a daily basis (e.g. vacuuming), but things like picking up after oneself, keeping one’s room neat and making one’s bed are not chores any more than brushing one’s teeth is a chore. These sorts of good personal practices are the stuff of respect for self and others. As such, your daughters should have a day off from doing them.

Family psychologist John Rosemond answers parents’ questions on his Web site (www.rosemond.com).

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