Question: My 23-month-old son does well with potty training when we're at home. We use a potty bell and he goes every 90 minutes or so. When we're away from home, however, he seems clueless. He pees in his car seat about 5 minutes into a trip and will not use a potty anywhere but at our home or at my mother's (she watches him one day a week at her place). Would pull-ups be a bad thing to use when we leave the house?
Answer: I'm not a fan of pull-ups. Based on lots of feedback from parents, I've concluded that they can actually delay training success (and night dryness). There are exceptions, however, and this is one. Pull-ups used conservatively and in specific situations during this phase of training should not cause a setback. So do yourself a favor and use pull-ups when you leave the house. Your son's phobia of strange toilets should pass in relatively short order.
Q: We are older parents (65 and 55) who've been doing foster care with babies. Our own children, 23 and 20, are still living at home. We are now considering adopting. Where a child's ability to successfully bond to a new family is concerned, what age is optimal? We'd love to adopt a teen but are concerned that an older child might form a stronger attachment to his/her peers than to us.
A: The older a child at adoption, the more likely it is that he or she has been bounced from one foster home to another for some time and comes with lots of baggage. If so, that's always a risk factor, but no hard and fast predictions can be made on the basis of age, years in foster care or any other background variable. Some kids with "clean" backgrounds have great difficulty as adoptees, and some kids with messy backgrounds have little difficulty.
The concept of bonding is ill-defined but the term can be loosely used to mean an adopted child's ability to adjust successfully to a new family. In that case, there's no doubt that the chemistry between the adopted child and adoptive parents is critical. Unfortunately, that's difficult if not impossible to predict, which is why most state adoption agencies require a trial period before an adoption can be finalized.
In your case, your age could be a liability, but on the other hand, if you're in good health and live an active lifestyle, that's going to work in your favor. If you end up adopting a teen, it's going to be important that he or she not have reason to think of you as old fogeys who aren't "with it." The question then becomes: Can you pull off being cool without compromising your authority?
Family psychologist John Rosemond answers parents' questions on his website, Rosemond.com.
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