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Barbara F. Meltz writes the Globe's Child Caring column. She is author of "Put Yourself in Their Shoes, Understanding How Your Children See the World," and a frequent speaker to parent groups. Join her chat on the first and third Monday of the month at noon.
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Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Here's the topic for tonight's dinner conversation

The high school cheating scandal in Hanover, NH, on page 1 of the Globe today by Sarah Schweitzer, is a tragedy for the students involved and their families. It's trauma for the town, which will be the subject of zillions of stories over the next news cycle. It's also a window into the times in which we live -- the pressure-cooker lives of our children -- as well as a golden opportunity for us to have some heart-felt conversations with our children.

Just as the so-called sex scandal at Milton Academy a few years ago afforded parents the teachable moment to talk about oral sex, this, too, is a teachable moment not to be missed. When was the last time you reminded your kids, flat out, that cheating is wrong? Or the last time you asked, point blank, "How much pressure do you feel to get good grades? To get into a certain college?" Or what about this one: "What would you do if some of your friends asked you to help them with something that you knew was wrong or illegal?"

Or this one: "Could you imagine something like this happening at your school?"

Just a friendly reminder. The best way to keep the conversation going isn't to ask the pointed questions that are practically falling out of your mouth on their own (you know: "Which kids?") but to be a reflective listener. That means not rushing in with commentary or judgement, but saying things like, "Tell me more," or, "That must have been hard."

And while we're on the subject of Milton Academy's sex scandal, you might be interested in the new book on the subject, reviewed here by my colleague, Bella English.

Posted by Barbara Meltz at 11:21 AM
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