My friend was sitting at supper with his son in law and two grandsons. One age 3 the other 9. Suddenly out of the blue the father of the children stands up states he has a catchy dungeons and dragons lyric he wants to share that was written by a group called sisters.
In loving tones singing the lyrics and dancing the seductive jingle, he looks at each party swaying back and forth as he sings. “I can’t decide if you should live or die… ” then looms in to put his face within 3 feet of each of the children faces gazing into their eyes as he continues singing “I can’t decide if you should live or die” then throwing his arms out as he leans back singing “I CAN’T DECIDE IF YOU SHOULD LIVE OR DIE”
The children at first are smiling with the sweet intonations and their dad’s dancing antics. Then the actual words seem to impact them as first the nine-year-old begins to look confused and hurt, then the 3 years old the same with his eyes welling up with tears.
The father starts laughing and still singing the words walks off down the hall to his bedroom, goes inside and closes the door.
My friend, aghast and alarmed at the display and the children’s reactions assure them they are loved and wanted. hugging them and moving past the moment.
My questions are; “Is my friend wrong to be aghast and alarmed?” ”What if any are the possible psychological concerns that such behaviors may raise?” Should my friend ignore such warning signs of seeming inappropriateness?” It might be useful to know that the father while a railway worker currently, did earn a degree in early childhood education while he was in university prior. Thanks for considering.My depression can cause me not to see the full picture so I doubt myself at times. Then again sometimes I am seeing very clearly. I feel it would be useful to have a professional opinion.
Thank you again. (From Canada)
Your friend’s son-in-law’s antics are inappropriate for a variety of reasons. First, this was at best a severe lapse in judgment on the son-in-law’s part by not thinking things through and wrongly thinking this was entertaining. At worst this is horrible parenting and your friend’s response to this was exceptionally good and intuitively correct. He undid the confusion and hurt with the right words and gestures. Helping them to counteract the moment and move past it was the best possible intervention.
Children are resilient and forgiving — so I wouldn’t worry so much about this one instance as I would about the fact that it may be emblematic of a father who can’t understand the impact such a lyric and behavior could have on children this age. If he did this it means his social and emotional intelligence are lacking. The children’s reaction is proof of this in itself.
I’d encourage your friend to honor his instinct and to find a way to talk to his son-in-law. This should not go unchecked as doing so is likely to lead to more of the same.
Wishing you patience and peace,