Lonely boy needs wife's sympathy, not suspicion
Our neighbor's son, "Donny," has become a regular fixture in our home. His parents divorced years ago, and his father is terminally ill.
Donny has "adopted" me as a father figure. We have spent a great deal of time together. Not having a son -- I have daughters -- I admit that being with him is a novelty.
My wife, on the other hand, feels no one should "infiltrate" her family. There are few boys in our neighborhood, and Donny isn't old enough to venture to other streets in search of playmates. I can't bring myself to turn him away knowing how lonely he is and how difficult his life will become. I worry that he's a prime candidate for a predator, or that he could start drinking or smoking at an early age. I'd rather have him in our house where I know he's safe.
My wife says we can't save everyone, and I know that. But when I hear about the bad things that happen to kids on the news, it makes me wonder where was someone who could have helped them.
How can I get my wife to see this is a chance to make a difference in this boy's life, and that he's no threat to our family unit? -- FRIEND OF A LONELY CHILD
Your wife appears to be responding to Donny on an emotional rather than a rational level. Because she didn't "produce" a son, she views the time or emotional nourishment that you give Donny as something being taken away from her daughters. That's sad.
It's possible that a religious adviser could help her to view this differently, but if she can't find sympathy in her heart for the boy, then I recommend you talk to Donny's mother about finding a Big Brother for him, through her religious denomination.
My 16-year-old son, "Victor," is hearing-impaired. He wears hearing aids in both ears. The aids are small and not easily seen.
Recently we were in a new doctor's office, and the nurse was talking to my son but looking in another direction. When I explained that Victor is hearing-impaired and couldn't hear her, she replied, "Oh, I know teenagers -- selective hearing." I said, "No, he is hearing-impaired and wears hearing aids."
The same thing happened at summer camp. My husband said Victor has a hearing problem, and the counselor responded with, "So I need to smack him on the side of his head to get him to listen?"
Please inform your readers that hearing aids aren't just for older people. My son has informed people he wears hearing aids because he can't hear well, and he still gets the same smart-alecky retorts. Have you any suggestions? -- NOT BEING FLIPPANT IN PENNSYLVANIA
DEAR NOT BEING FLIPPANT:
Oh, yes. The nurse in your doctor's office was tactless. If she didn't apologize for her comment, you should have mentioned it to the doctor so he could educate her not only about hearing loss, but also about diplomacy. As to the ignorant camp counselor, your husband should have immediately reported it to the camp director.
After reading your letter, I consulted Dr. Rick Friedman at the House Ear Clinic in Los Angeles, who told me that approximately one in 2,000 children is born with hearing problems. (There is a genetic component, and hearing problems can run in families.) Being subjected to loud noises can also have a negative impact on hearing, and Dr. Friedman said studies are being conducted to determine to what extent.
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