Readers share insights on overnegotiation and more

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I received so much positive feedback after admitting in last week's column that I talk too much ("Here's the scoop on parental chitchat: Less really is more," June 29), that I've decided to shut up just a little bit longer.

Today, it's your turn to talk. Following are some of your recent emails, edited for length.

Having raised three children in the late '70s and '80s, I wish I had the wisdom to skip those endless exchanges I went through as a mom. If I could just go back in time, when my then-4 year old insisted on wearing plaid pants and a striped top for a grocery trip to Jewel — which resulted in a four-alarm argument to change her clothes — I would pick my battles more carefully. Who cares who sees my daughter in a mismatched outfit? But there I was, arguing with a 4-year-old.

My son recently became a father. I'd like to give him some of my sage advice, but, heck, parenting is as much a learning and growing process as anything else deemed so important. Therefore, I'm just going to sit back and watch my son and grandson evolve on their own, perhaps with a smile on my face as I reminisce.

Debbie Brinkworth

"Divorce class seems divorced from reality," which also ran on June 29, kicked up its own flurry of emails.

I tend to agree the government gets too involved with divorces, but that may be because the spouses are not mature enough to work things out on their own. I've dealt with divorced couples for several years as a volunteer counselor at church and so I'm under no illusions. It is truly a tragedy to see a divorce, and for some, it's the only way to reasonably deal with the situation. But it's something that always hurts society and families. In my professional opinion, I'd strongly disagree with your conclusion that children of divorced spouses are not at greater risk for social and psychological problems. The evidence available does not support that conclusion. The family is the basic building block of society, and I don't think we should pretend that the traditional family model isn't the best option. The evidence says it is, and that does make good sense.

Ben Emma

After my June 1 column touched on the abject horror of kid arcades ("Feeling appreciated is key to relationships — except parenting"), one reader shared this anecdote, which I'll cherish forever.

My youngest son, who is now 32, still remembers the Chuck E. Cheese tale. When his 5-year-old freckle-faced, doe-eyed self looked up at me and asked, "Mama, can we go to Chuck E. Cheese?" I stared down at him completely horrified at the thought of entering that zone of crazy and replied, "Oh, I'm so sorry. The closest one is in South America and we don't have any way to get there." He completely accepted that explanation. To this day, he and I crack up about it.

Beth Blount

Finally, my June 18 column calling for Washington Post columnist George Will to move on from journalism — in light of his piece calling rape victimhood a "coveted status" — inspired more mail than anything I've ever written. About half the notes were supportive. The other half urged me to move on from journalism. This one struck me as a viewpoint worth sharing.

I go back many years with the Chicago Police Department. Homicide/rape was part of my life. Imagine what it was like for women to try and tell their stories to us male investigators. I could not tell you just how many offenders walked because, by male standards, most of us just did not understand that "no, stop" meant just that. Ironically the percentage (of rape victims) that Will is touting is probably a lot higher. The status of victim will always elude him until it happens to him or a member of his family.

Bob Angone, retired lieutenant, Chicago Police Department

hstevens@tribune.com

Twitter @heidistevens13

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