Concerning the wonderful 4/14 article, "Stepparenting teens," I want to encourage your paper to drop "blended families" from your editorial lexicon. Those of us who work in the field have labored for decades to encourage the use of "stepfamily" and "remarried family."
The problem with "blended family" is that it furthers the "Brady Bunch" myth that stepfamilies can become just like first-time families if they just do it "right." The opposite is true. In fact, I am fond of saying that when stepfamilies "blend" too quickly, somebody always gets creamed.
In all stepfamilies, biological parent-child bonds predate both the adult couple and stepparent-child bonds. As the article points out, children do not accept stepparents right away (and, in some cases, not ever) in a parenting role. As a psychologist working with remarried families, I can tell you that troubled stepfamilies are almost always struggling with trying to live this myth of "blending," in the face of the realities. Families that do not expect to blend take their time establishing relationships. Those families are much more successful than families that expect to "blend" right away.
Patricia L. Papernow, EdD
The writer is author of "Becoming a Stepfamily, Stages of Development in Remarried Families."
The assertion that US development aid is given to the Egyptian government "to do with as it pleases," advanced in the April 12 story, "$50 billion later, taking stock of US aid to Egypt," is just plain wrong. The US and Egypt decide the uses of resources. There are regular and comprehensive audits.
Also false was the claim that US aid is enabling Egypt to avoid reform. In fact, reforms are manifest everywhere. Egypt has adopted legislation protecting intellectual property, a prerequisite for boosting foreign direct investment. Significant reforms in customs administration are under way. Both of these reforms were conditions for US assistance.
Last January, Egypt abandoned its longstanding, economically crippling link of the pound to the dollar. As a result, exports are up, imports are steady, and the surplus following the first half of fiscal year 2003-'04 rose about eightfold to $2.2 billion. In education, Egypt has devolved decisionmaking to local government and schools. The government recently founded a watchdog Human Rights Committee.
The principles guiding US foreign aid under President Bush are clear: assistance must encourage governments to "rule justly, invest in their people, and encourage economic freedom." USAID in Egypt is governed by these values.
USAID Mission Director, Cairo
In reference to your April 19 Opinion piece, "Britain debates: to spank or not to spank," I raised seven children and often applied the "paddle of knowledge" to the "seat of understanding." Not once did I ever abuse my children. They knew they were loved and that we really cared about what they did. I was spanked, my children were spanked - by me - and I spanked my grandchildren. If I live long enough, I will spank my great-grandchildren when they misbehave or show disrespect to grownups and those in authority, period.
Spanking teaches children that it is OK for people who love each other to hit each other. If spanking is such a wonderful teaching tool, why do we quit using it when our children grow as big as us? Why not use spanking to "teach" employees who make mistakes? Oh, yeah, adults have rights, so that would never happen.
Barbara Taylor, PhD
Pigeon Forge, Tenn.
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