This is in response to the letter from "Want to Help in Louisville, Ky.," who baby-sat for a child she believed was being emotionally abused. While your answer was very good, Ann, I believe I can provide more information that could be helpful.
Emotional abuse can have severe and long-lasting effects on a child. It can be as painful as physical abuse, with scars that last a lifetime. A parent's love is so important that withholding it can cause a child to struggle through adulthood feeling insecure and unworthy. Children who are abused emotionally often exhibit signs of depression, hostility, apathy and hopelessness.
Please tell "Want to Help" to be a friend to that child's mother, and talk to her about her behavior and where she can turn for help. Suggest parent groups, therapy or Childhelp's National Child Abuse Hotline, 1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453) for crisis counseling and referral services. And just as importantly, be a friend to the child as well, and offer your love, attention and encouragement. Children need adults to help them, because too often, their voices aren't heard. When you see or hear something suspicious, you must do something about it. Only then will children be safe from abuse.
Director of East Coast Operations
Your letter is going to be read by millions of people, and your suggestions are invaluable. Thank you for a sensitive and helpful letter. You have found the job that fits you to a T.
Your response to "Single File in Aurora, Ill.," surprised me. "Single" complained that her husband didn't want to participate in social events. You said he was probably unsure of himself in social situations, and suggested he could be cured by gradual exposure to increasing numbers of people.
Why is it that perfectly sane and respectable folks are allowed to say that an evening of Mozart would bore them to tears, yet, when someone says the same about an evening of coffee and chatter, he is considered "peculiar"? Just as some people cannot carry a tune or run a mile in under four minutes, I am not able to sit in a room and engage in mindless chatter. This does not mean I am unsure of myself in social situations. I am plenty sure of myself. I just hate these occasions the same way someone else might hate an afternoon of drag racing, heavy-metal music or foreign films. It's a matter of personal preference.
I am a successful career woman. I work with 11 full-time and 30 seasonal employees. I enjoy my work, and relate well to others. I have been married for 14 years to a wonderful, outgoing man. However, it drives me crazy to sit in a room with people for three hours and listen to nonstop chitchat. My brain turns to mush, and my eyes glaze over.
Perhaps you could have suggested that "Single" work out a compromise with her husband. He could agree to a certain amount of socializing in exchange for a guilt-free pass the rest of the time. He doesn't need to be cured. He isn't defective.
Those of us who abhor an evening of socialization can still be normal, happy, productive individuals. Please encourage others to accept our personal lifestyle preferences instead of providing them with helpful hints on how to change us.
Happy and Anti-Social in Everyland I consider myself properly told off. You are perfectly right. If your husband doesn't mind your wish not to socialize, it is indeed none of my business. I apologize. P.S.: Maybe what you need is more interesting friends.
To find out more about Ann Landers and read her past columns, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.