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Parent of 3 and 9 Years Sang Them a Catchy Jingle, But The Words Were Highly Inappropriate

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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)

Parent of 3 and 9 Years Sang Them a Catchy Jingle, But The Words Were Highly Inappropriate

Answered by on -


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,
Dr. Dan
Proof Positive Blog @ PsychCentral


Parent of 3 and 9 Years Sang Them a Catchy Jingle, But The Words Were Highly Inappropriate

Therapists live, online right now, from BetterHelp:

Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPP

Dan Tomasulo Ph.D., TEP, MFA, MAPP teaches Positive Psychology in the graduate program of Counseling and Clinical Psychology at Columbia University, Teachers College and works with Martin Seligman, the Father of Positive Psychology in the Masters of Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) program at the University of Pennsylvania. He is Director of the New York Certification in Positive Psychology for the Open Center in New York City and on faculty at New Jersey City University. Sharecare has honored him as one of the top 10 online influencers on the topic of depression. For more information go to: He also writes for Psych Central's Ask the Therapist column and the Proof Positive blog.

APA Reference
Tomasulo, D. (2020). Parent of 3 and 9 Years Sang Them a Catchy Jingle, But The Words Were Highly Inappropriate. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 26, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 3 Jan 2020 (Originally: 5 Jan 2020)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 3 Jan 2020
Published on Psych All rights reserved.