Monday, September 26, 2005

Parenting in the first decade of the millennium

This week I have been reading (and in some cases rereading) books about parenting. I am helping Jim (my husband) do some research for a class on parenting to be offered on Wednesday nights at church. He and I have both long been admirers of the common-sense approach to parenting espoused by Dr. John Rosemond; so in order to help Jim prepare for the class, I have read and reread some of Dr. Rosemond's books.

Today I finished reading his Six-point Plan for Raising Happy Healthy Children. Dr. Rosemond's methods are seen by some as harsh, and I agree that perhaps they are slightly so in comparison to many modern psychologists' parenting theories; however, I can see a lot of truth in his ideas.

Dr. Rosemond says that the parent's primary job is to help children get out of their parents' lives and into successful lives of their own. The six points he offers to that end in this book are:
1. Put your marriage first (or in the case of single parents, put your own needs first). Children need to know that you have your own life and they are expected to have a separate life too. As with food, children need to have enough attention to be healthy, but not so much as to become addicted or fixated .
2. EXPECT your children to obey you. Give children direction: "It is time for you to..." or "You need to..." NOT "Let's..." or "Would you like to..."
3. Establish responsibility. Do this in two ways -- assigning chores and having children take responsibility for their own behavior.
4. Don't be afraid to tell your child "no". Children should get ALL of what they need but only 25% of what they want. Otherwise they grow up with unrealistic expectations of life.
5. Eliminate unnecessary toys. When a child says, "I'm bored", it simply means he/she has too much too soon. The choices are overwhelming. The fewer toys and the more space a child has in which to explore and create, the more successful the child is at occupying his/her time.
6. Encourage creativity by minimizing TV viewing. It is not just the CONTENT of what they view that is damaging, it is also the PROCESS of watching TV.

I suppose numbers 2 and 4 would get the most argument from many modern parents. I am mulling some of these ideas while I read other books on the topic of raising happy and healthy children.

As a teacher for most of the last 40-something years, I have seen many children suffer because their parents have taught them to deny responsibility for any of their failures, bad behaviors or poor choices. Since almost all learning takes place as a result of trial and error, some frustration and disappointment is essential to real learning. It is from these experiences that children learn perseverence (the one key element to almost all success.) When parents protect their children from embarrassment, disappointment, or frustration, they deny them opportunities to get the skills needed to become successful and happy adults.

I have seen many well-meaning parents who seem unable to assume any authority with their children -- and those children feel insecure and need to constantly test the boundaries. A child's sense of security is based on knowing that his/her parents can protect and provide for the child in any and all circumstances. This requires that the parent make many decisions for the child. A parent has to be as decisive and authoritative as a referee. More later ....


Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Carol said...

Great post, Joan. I enjoyed reading it. I'll email you the titles of a couple of parenting books that I like. I have a favorite quote about perseverance, too. I can't remember it exactly. So I'll email it to you after I get to school - it's posted in my classroom.