Parenting December 2022: Craziness No More

John Rosemond

Living With Children by John Rosemond

Parenting December 2022: Craziness No More

Q: My husband and I recently visited our son’s family. We live two thousand miles apart, and with the pandemic and all, hadn’t seen one another in several years. We were appalled to discover that they—our daughter-in-law in particular—practice “gentle parenting,” which seemed to explain our two grands’ generally disrespectful and disobedient behavior. When we confronted our son about the craziness in his household, he told us it was his wife’s “thing” and he was going along with it to keep peace. Is it us, or is it “gentle parenting”?

A: “Gentle parenting,” boils down to treating children as if they are rational, reasonable equals. That significant numbers of adults actually think a constant downpour of love will magically transform a child into a person of that description would be mind-boggling if it wasn’t just one more symptom of these anti-intellectual times. Furthermore, your son’s admission that he is only going along with his wife to keep peace is telling of the fact that in too many an American household, the father has zero say in how the children are being raised. The woman he refers to as “my wife” has all but completely abdicated her proper role. She’s a full-time mommy. He would be more accurate in calling her “my children’s mother,” albeit even “my” is questionable from a strictly philosophical perspective.

Parenting November 2022: The Most Important Social Courtesy to Teach a Child

John Rosemond

Living With Children by John Rosemond

Parenting November 2022: The Most Important Social Courtesy to Teach a Child

One of the characteristics of a truly civilized society is the ubiquitous use of proper social courtesies. Raising a child is all about civilizing the savage within; therefore, “manners,” as they are known, should be taught to a child early and diligently.

A parent recently wrote me, asking, “What’s the most important social courtesy to teach a child?”

My answer to that great question: To not interrupt adult conversations.

In learning not to interrupt,
a child learns patience, which is to say, impulse control.

It also strengthens the social boundary that should exist between the child and adults; hence, the child’s respect for adults. In other words, being taught not to interrupt adult conversations, including phone conversations, benefits the child as much or more than it benefits adults.

Parenting October 2022: Obedient or Defiant? The Choice is in Your Actions

John Rosemond

Living With Children by John Rosemond

Parenting October 2022: Obedient or Defiant? The Choice is in Your Actions

The mother of a 5-year-old girl tells her to dress for school. The child replies, insolence abounding, “No! I don’t want to, and I’m not going to!” Mom tells her that if she doesn’t dress, she will go to school in her pajamas. The child dresses. And that’s the end of it. Or is it?

“Did I do the right thing?” Mom asks.

“Was her defiance on that occasion a one-off?”

“Oh, no,” Mom replies. “She defies me about most things.”

“Then you achieved getting her to put on her clothes,” I answer, “but you made no dent in the real problem.”

Parenting September 2022: Hey Mom and Dad! Just Say No to Being Your Child’s Homework “Buddy”

John Rosemond

Living With Children by John Rosemond

Parenting September 2022: Hey Mom and Dad! Just Say No to Being Your Child’s Homework “Buddy”

Q: The school our 10-year-old daughter attends believes parents should micromanage homework sessions – they call it “being a homework buddy.” As a consequence, our daughter believes we should help her with her assignments. Mind you, we’re willing to help when help is truly needed, but we don’t want to be our daughter’s “buddies” under any circumstances. What are your thoughts on this?

A: When are teachers, administrators, and college professors going to realize that enabling by any other name is still enabling? Homework buddies? Give me a break! Back in the dark ages of my youth, when children did their homework independently, they did their homework, and student achievement was considerably higher than it has been since.

Parenting August 2022: Parents’ Questions Answered

John Rosemond

Living With Children by John Rosemond

Parenting August 2022: Parents’ Questions Answered

Q: Our 14-year-old daughter is a rising high school sophomore. We let her wear eyeliner this past year, but she is wearing entirely too much. She is well-adjusted (plays sports, good grades) but seems insecure to go out in public without her make-up. When we tell her she looks prettier without it, she becomes defensive. Should we lighten up or insist that she stop trying to look like Miley Cyrus?

A: Your daughter is at an age where peer approval is more important than just about anything else (certainly approval from you) and wearing makeup is a ticket to that approval. That’s unfortunate, but in childrearing as in every other area of life, it is sometimes necessary to make compromises. Parents should always keep in mind that one can win a battle and still lose the war.

Parenting July 2022: Teens are Not Entitled to Rage & Disrespect

John Rosemond

Living With Children by John Rosemond

Parenting July 2022: Teens are Not Entitled to Rage & Disrespect

Q: I’m a single mother with a 13-year-old son. His father, whom he sees infrequently, has PTSD from battle experiences. My son has anger toward his father, but I can’t get him to talk about it. It comes out of him in the form of a lot of disrespect directed toward me. What should I do about this?

A: I assume that by “this” you mean your son’s supposed anger concerning his father. If I’m right, then you’re focusing on the wrong issue. The problem is the disrespect and hostility your son directs toward you.

In the first place, you’re playing amateur psychologist. You’re engaging in pure speculation (which is, by the way, all a psychologist is doing when he claims to know what causes a person to behave in a certain manner). Your theory concerning his disrespect gives your son a free pass to behave as abusively toward you as he pleases. On the other hand, if you happen to be right about the source of your son’s “anger,” the question becomes “so what?”

Parenting June 2022: Nip it in the Bud

John Rosemond

Living With Children by John Rosemond

Parenting June 2022: Nip it in the Bud

Q: Our sons are six and four. When their same-age cousins come over, they all go down into our basement to play. Invariably, within thirty minutes my youngest comes upstairs crying because his older brother is causing the cousins to gang up against him. I end up going down into the basement every half hour to settle these disputes. Is there a way to solve the problem once and for all?

A: You’ve discovered, the hard way, that “settling” one of these conflicts does not solve the problem. In fact, settling 1,358,495 of these disputes will not solve the problem. In further fact, you serving as a mediator is making matters worse. Unwittingly, by coming to your youngest son’s rescue, you cause the other boys to resent him and want to get back at him. When they do, he cries, you come running, you rescue, and again they resent him, and around and around it goes.

Parenting April 2022: Who's the boss?

John Rosemond

Living With Children by John Rosemond

Parenting April 2022: Who's the boss?

Is the following statement true or false?
It is often the case that children like what is not good for them
and do not like what is good for them.
True, right? Right!
The question then becomes, are you trying to be liked by your child?


Other forms of the same question are…Does it bother you when your child acts like he doesn’t like you? When your child acts like he doesn’t care for you, do you try to correct the situation? Do you desire, in your heart of hearts, to be seen by your child as a friend?

If you answered “yes” to those questions, then you have proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that you are not of sound mind. In this case, a sound mind is defined as not caring one way or the other whether your child likes you at any given moment in time, or not.

Parenting February 2022: Danger: Information Overload

John Rosemond

Living With Children by John Rosemond

Parenting February 2022: Danger: Information Overload

My 3-year-old is fearful of trying anything new, including things that other kids his age love to do such as swinging on a swing, sliding down a slide, and splashing in a pool. I feel like I should begin talking to him about what to do in case of a fire in our house and “stranger danger,” but how can I make him aware of how serious these dangers are without scaring him?

Parenting January 2022: It’s Not Your Job to Make Your Child Happy

John Rosemond

Living With Children by John Rosemond

Parenting January 2022:  It’s Not Your Job to Make Your Child Happy

Making children happy became a parenting goal in the early 1970s. The paradox, as everyone with a modicum of common sense knows, is that the more effort parents put into making a child happy, the more unhappy the child becomes.

Underneath the cute appearance of an infant lurks a tyrant. I would have been expelled from graduate school for writing that sentence, but as loathe as many of today’s parents are to accept it, that is the truth. Another paradox: Parents who are unwilling to accept it are the ones most likely to give the tyrant permission to step out of hiding and begin his reign of terror.

Parenting December 2021: Give Your Child the Gift of Grit

John Rosemond

Living With Children by John Rosemond

Parenting December 2021: Give Your Child the Gift of Grit

It’s all over the web, that “grit” thing. Seems like every day, I get some promo for a webinar on how to get more grit, project more grit, or get in touch with your inner grit. So, allow me to enlighten the reader on how to help your child acquire grit.

First, what is grit? Grit is equal parts determination, tenacity, and emotional resilience, which is the ability to withstand setbacks and even failure. Grit is nothing new. Marco Polo had it. Edmund Hillary had it. Navy Seals have it. I know that leaves lots of people out, but this is a magazine column, not a history book. You get the picture. Grit is hanging in there and getting the job done when failure is a looming possibility. Grit is in short supply today, as I and many folks of my generation fear.

Parenting November 2021: Be the Adult in the Room and Stop the Madness

John Rosemond

Living With Children by John Rosemond

Parenting November 2021: Be the Adult in the Room and Stop the Madness

I often find myself telling parents that they need to stop
doing something that is counterproductive and, in most cases,
contributing significantly to whatever parenting problem is bedeviling them.


“How do I stop?” is the typical response, which brings to mind “The Bob Newhart Show” which ran on CBS from 1972 to 1978. Newhart, a truly gifted comic (i.e., one who does not need to resort to vulgarity to get laughs), played Dr. Robert Hartley, a Chicago psychologist who was known for his unusual therapeutic techniques, one of which consisted of two simple words.
After listening to a client describe a mental problem, such as an obsessive fear of being buried alive in a box (my personal favorite), Dr. Hartley would lean forward and yell, “Stop it!” (Readers interested in watching a brilliant demonstration of authentic comedy can access re-runs of TBNS online.)

Parenting October 2021: The Life Direction Dilemma

John Rosemond

Living With Children by John Rosemond

Parenting October 2021: The Life Direction Dilemma

“We should, like, what? Give him a year to figure out his life and move out?”
I’m talking to the parents of a 21-one-year-old male who instead of
going to college or into the military, delivers pizzas, eats pizzas
(he gets an employee discount), and plays video games.

I’m having a déjà vu experience. I’ve had this conversation before, many, many times.

“Why a year?”

“Um, well, that’s enough time for him to figure things out, isn’t it?”

 

Parenting September 2021: Let's Talk Tantrums

John Rosemond

Living With Children by John Rosemond

Parenting September 2021: Let's Talk Tantrums

Q: Our four-year-old, an only child, is giving us fits. As a toddler, he began ignoring us. That evolved into downright refusing to do what we ask, as in, “I’m not going to” and just plain “No.” It seems like the nicer we are to him, the meaner he is to us. In addition, his tantrums when he doesn’t get his way have become Class 5 hurricanes that last until we give in. We know we shouldn’t—give in, that is—but his fits just wear us out. There is no doubt that he’s in complete control of our home. Is it too late to turn things around?

Parenting August 2021: True or False

John Rosemond

Living With Children by John Rosemond

Parenting August 2021: True or False

We interrupt this monthly column with a three-question quiz, following which you will find the correct answers.

True or False? Telling a child that her feelings concerning a decision you have made
are irrelevant and that you will not discuss the matter with her is likely to cause
psychological damage to the child, including trauma to her self-esteem.

True or False? Answering “Because I said so” to a child who wants to know the
reason behind a decision you have made is likely to cause psychological
damage to the child, including trauma to her self-esteem.

True or False? Refusing to help a child with a problem she brings to you is likely to
cause psychological damage to the child, including trauma to her self-esteem.

Parenting July 2021: The Last Word

John Rosemond

Living With Children by John Rosemond

Parenting July 2021: The Last Word

Q: My 15-year-old daughter is slowly driving me insane! She argues with me about everything and always wants the last word. No matter how well I explain the “why?” of a decision to her, she argues. Even when I offer a compromise, she argues. It’s her way or the highway. Is there a solution?

Parenting June 2021: Fathers: Be the Best Husbands You Can Be

John Rosemond

Living With Children by John Rosemond

Parenting June 2021: Fathers: Be the Best Husbands You Can Be

The biggest problem in the life of today’s all-too typical mother is herself. She is her own worst enemy. Them’s fightin’ words, I know, but please, hold the tomatoes and other vegetables and bear with me.

One of the doctrines of the Good Mommy Club, the evil sisterhood to which many (if not most) of today’s mommies belong, albeit unwittingly, has it that the Good Mommy does as much for her child as she possibly can, and then some. A guarantee of frustration, anxiety, stress, resentment and guilt, that.

Guys! Guys! Look, your wives, bless their hearts,
are having enough trouble putting their children and priorities into proper perspective without you adding to the muddle.

Keep it straight, please.

I’m referring to the media voices telling you to be better fathers. Three times in the last six months or so I’ve been invited on podcasts promoting fatherhood. The hosts are well-meaning, sincere, articulate fellows who apparently didn’t know they were interviewing a guy who never says what other people expect him to say.

Parenting May 2021: Perhaps the Good Mommy Club is Not So Good

John Rosemond

Living With Children by John Rosemond

Parenting May 2021: Perhaps the Good Mommy Club is Not So Good

The biggest problem in the life of today’s all-too typical mother is herself. She is her own worst enemy. Them’s fightin’ words, I know, but please, hold the tomatoes and other vegetables and bear with me.

One of the doctrines of the Good Mommy Club, the evil sisterhood to which many (if not most) of today’s mommies belong, albeit unwittingly, has it that the Good Mommy does as much for her child as she possibly can, and then some. A guarantee of frustration, anxiety, stress, resentment and guilt, that.

Parenting April 2021: Childhood Addictions

John Rosemond

Living With Children by John Rosemond

Parenting April 2021: Childhood Addictions


Concerning my prior use of the word “addiction” in association with smart phones
and children (including teens), some people think I am speaking figuratively.
To set the record straight: No, I am speaking quite literally.


When the addiction in question is to a substance, as in an opiate, there is both a psychological and physical component. During withdrawal from an addictive substance, both components come into play. The individual’s thoughts and emotions are in disarray and the person suffers physiologically, as well. When most people think in terms of an addiction, that is their mental picture.

Parenting March 2021: Micromanaging Your Child's Behavior

John Rosemond

Living With Children by John Rosemond

Parenting March 2021: Micromanaging Your Child's Behavior

A therapist takes a 10-year-old boy into what she calls “therapy.” The young fellow is belligerently defiant toward his parents and throws titanic tantrums when things don’t go his way. At school—virtual, going on a year—he’s distractible and doesn’t finish his work without being hovered over and harangued by his mother, a tactic that frequently precipitates more belligerence and a titanic tantrum.

Parenting February 2021: Teaching Obedience

John Rosemond

Living With Children by John Rosemond

Parenting February 2021: Teaching Obedience

Q: I teach 3- and 4-year-olds in a childcare center in Australia. I always have a few difficult children in any group and the book in which you describe Alpha Speech [The Well-Behaved Child] has been very helpful. My disciplinary options are limited to separating a misbehaving child out of the group for a few minutes and talking, but I cannot isolate or take privileges away. Besides, it seems that the worst kids’ parents undo at home what we accomplish in the classroom. Some of them even side with their children when they misbehave. Meanwhile, we walk on eggshells when it comes to discipline so that a parent doesn’t file a complaint against us with child protection. What suggestions do you have for preschool teachers?

Parenting January 2021: Taking Back Your Parental Power

John Rosemond

Living With Children by John Rosemond

Parenting January 2021: Taking Back Your Parental Power

Q: We have a 10-year-old daughter who runs our family. We allowed her to begin dictating to us when she began talking and it’s just gone slowly downhill ever since. She manipulates us with shrieking tantrums, disrespect, and downright refusal to do what we tell her to do. We must have done something right, however, because she gets nothing but praise and compliments from teachers, coaches, and her peers’ parents. We can hardly believe they are describing the same child. Is it too late to turn this around? If not, what should we do? We’re desperate.

Parenting December 2020: Parenting Exhaustion Is Not Affirmation Of Parenting Excellence

John Rosemond

Living With Children by John Rosemond

Parenting December 2020: Parenting Exhaustion Is Not Affirmation Of Parenting Excellence

Q: We sent our daughter a recent article of yours hoping it might cause her to rethink her approach to raising our grandson. It was not well-received and she is no longer speaking to us. The child, age four, is quite ill-behaved. Our daughter makes one excuse after another for him: he was premature, he was hospitalized at age three and now has PTSD, he might have a biochemical imbalance, and so on. We feel that his real and only problem is lack of discipline. For example, when he’s with us, he’s perfectly well behaved. We love our grandson, but don’t like being around him when his parents are running the show. What should we do now?

Parenting November 2020: Let's Talk Tantrums

John Rosemond

Living With Children by John Rosemond

Parenting November 2020: Let's Talk Tantrums

As just about everyone who has lived with a child for more than two years knows, the most potentially dangerous thing one can say to a toddler is “no.” That single syllable strikes deep into the core of the reptilian portion of the toddler brain, arousing a reaction that dwarfs Godzilla’s most destructive rampage.

“Should I simply ignore my two-year-old’s tantrums?” a young mother asks.

 “Can you?”

She ponders that for a moment or two. “Not really.”

Ignoring is about as over-rated as it gets, especially when it comes to toddler tantrums. Nothing brings out a toddler’s inner Godzilla like being ignored. That same mother, for example, reported that when she ignored a tantrum, it quickly escalated into hitting, biting, and head-banging. If she began walking away, her live-in maniac would wrap himself around her leg, shrieking like a banshee.

The Food Fight

John Rosemond

Parenting by John Rosemond

The Food Fight

Our 10-month-old son has recently discovered the joys of throwing finger food on the floor at mealtimes. He doesn’t seem to care if I feed it to him myself, one piece at a time, but isn't it important that he start feeding himself?

Not to worry. The emergence of “throwing food on the floor behavior” at this age, especially if a dog is waiting below, is indisputable indication that the child’s development, not to mention sense of humor, is proceeding according to plan.

Vitamin N: Does Your Child Get Enough?

John Rosemond

Parenting by John Rosemond

Vitamin N: Does Your Child Get Enough?

In 1972, a Stanford University psychologist conducted a study in which young children, individually, were offered either a small but immediate reward (a marshmallow or a pretzel) or a doubled reward if they were able to wait for fifteen minutes. In follow-up studies, researchers found that children who were able to postpone gratification experienced better life outcomes as measured by such things as SAT scores, academic achievement, and body mass index.

I have long maintained that well-done research in the so-called social sciences does nothing but confirm common sense, and it certainly seems commonsensical that impulsivity and difficulty delaying gratification have a negative impact on life outcomes. The Stanford Marshmallow Experiment, as it is known, bears significantly on childrearing attitudes and approaches. Simply, teaching a naturally impulse-driven child to exercise restraint greatly increases the child’s chances of success.

Odd Children

John Rosemond

Parenting by John Rosemond

Odd Children

I have come up with a new psychological diagnosis, one that I won’t, however, be submitting for approval to the powers that be: simply, odd. My “odd” is to be distinguished from ODD, the acronym for oppositional defiant disorder, an invention that enables mental health professionals to obtain payment from insurance providers…but that’s another column entirely. Stay tuned!

Odd is what all human beings are. Starting from the top down, all adults are odd. I am odd, you are odd, Bill Gates is odd, President Trump is odd, Barak Obama is odd (must have diversity, you know), and so on. Most people, by early adulthood at the latest, begin to identify their personal peculiarities and realize they must be concealed from the general public lest they cause social and employment difficulties. Adults who fail to conceal their oddities are prone to becoming known as “jerks” and other equally hobbling nicknames. Or, they become mental health professionals, politicians, and famous actors who win Academy Awards.

Rewards & Punishments: Are Yours Effective?

John Rosemond

Parenting by John Rosemond

Rewards & Punishments: Are Yours Effective?

Psychologist B. F. Skinner, the formulator of behavior modification theory, was attempting to prove that the same principles that govern the behavior of amoeba, planaria, rats, dogs, and monkeys also govern the behavior of human beings. A very Darwinian proposition, indeed.

What my graduate school professors conveniently “forgot” to tell me: Skinner failed to prove his hypothesis, and no researcher has ever succeeded where Skinner did not. Some have claimed success, but all they’ve succeeded at proving, really, is the fact that human beings are economists by nature. From a very early age, humans weight benefits versus costs and make logical decisions, if not always rational ones.

Stop "Parenting" & Be a Parent

John Rosemond

Parenting by John Rosemond

Stop

One website is titled “How to Cope with Kids During Coronavirus.” Another, featuring a staged photo of an obviously frazzled mom with a toddler on her lap, tells the reader that “Parents are losing their minds having kids at home during coronavirus!” There’s yet another, advising on “How to Keep Kids Entertained During the Crisis.” On and on it goes, website after website counseling parents on how to deal with being confined at home with one’s kids.

The early Twenty-First Century may be remembered as the “Age of the Personal Soap Opera.” A person makes a soap opera out of a life situation, claims victimhood, garners sympathy, manufactures more soap opera, garners more sympathy, and so on. Soap opera begets soap opera. Forty-plus years of counseling experience has taught me that once a person becomes caught in the soap opera loop, it is harder than hard to get out.