Parenting June 2024: Too Many “No-No’s” May Lead to Worse Behavior

John Rosemond

Living With Children by John Rosemond

Parenting June 2024: Too Many “No-No’s” May Lead to Worse Behavior

Q: Our first child, a boy, just turned two. Per your advice, he is toilet trained and eating whatever I serve. Before he was born, we determined that we were not going to raise a picky eater. Our problem isn’t our son; it’s my sister-in-law, who has three kids, the youngest of which is four. She insists that my husband and I say “no” to our son way too much. Is that even possible? Our son is very active and determined to get his own way. Your advice would be greatly valued.

A: First, I congratulate you on getting off to such a good start. These days, it is the rare child who is toilet trained on time (before twenty-four months) and equally rare for a two-year-old to be eating whatever is put in front of him. Those are hardly accidents of genetics or “luck of the draw.” They testify to parents who understand the need to set good disciplinary precedents early in a child’s life.

Parenting May 2024: Hey Mom! Micromanaging & Hovering are Counterproductive

John Rosemond

Living With Children by John Rosemond

Parenting May 2024: Hey Mom! Micromanaging & Hovering are Counterproductive

To most folks, micromanagement has to do with tasks or performance. The micromanaging parent, for example, is generally thought of as one who hovers over a child’s homework or academics in general. Indeed, that is the most common form, but parental micromanagement can also extend to organizing and directing a child’s social life and recreation.

Whatever the context, micromanagement is driven by anxiety. The micromanaging parent is anxious that the child might do something that reflects badly on the parent, which means that parental micromanagement is a variation on the theme of codependency. It is almost always the case that the attempt to micromanage a child engenders relationship problems of one sort or another, including rebellion.

Parenting April 2024: The Terrible Threes

John Rosemond

Living With Children by John Rosemond

Parenting April 2024: The Terrible Threes

Q: My three-year-old is prone to ear infections. When he has one, his behavior deteriorates considerably. He becomes disobedient and given to angry outbursts. When his ears are clear, he’s generally delightful to be around. I’m reluctant to discipline him when his ears are hurting him, but I’d like your advice on this.

A: Obviously, your son doesn’t have a behavior problem per se; he has an ear infection problem that adversely affects his behavior. Given that when his ears are clear, he’s a delightful little fellow, I’d be reluctant to recommend any form of punitive discipline.

Parenting March 2024: Sibling Bullying… Is it Just Human Nature?

John Rosemond

Living With Children by John Rosemond

Parenting March 2024: Sibling Bullying… Is it Just Human Nature?

Q: Our eight-year-old, the oldest of three, is often rude to his siblings. I know some sibling conflict is normal, but this seems excessive. I hear him multiple times per day tell his younger brothers how annoying they are. In addition, he often yells at them to stop whatever they are doing that he doesn’t like. We’ve asked him to stop berating and yelling at them and have him rephrase his disrespectful words, but his disrespect doesn’t seem to be improving, and it’s beginning to drive us up the wall. Thanks for any advice you can give us.

Parenting February 2024: Weekly “Date Night” is Not Enough

John Rosemond

Living With Children by John Rosemond

Parenting February 2024: Weekly  “Date Night” is Not Enough

Q: Concerning chores, another expert recommends giving a child a certain number of chips, like poker chips, every month and if he or she fails to do a chore or doesn’t do it properly, you take a chip away. The chips can be used to purchase clothes and other things the child wants but doesn’t necessarily need. The child can also regain lost chips by doing extra chores. My wife and I are searching for a way to get our kids, ages 6 and 9, to do some light lifting around the house. What do you think of this system?

Parenting January 2024: Chores are for the Entire Family… that Includes Your Kids

John Rosemond

Living With Children by John Rosemond

Parenting January 2024: Chores are for the Entire Family… that Includes Your Kids

Q: Concerning chores, another expert recommends giving a child a certain number of chips, like poker chips, every month and if he or she fails to do a chore or doesn’t do it properly, you take a chip away. The chips can be used to purchase clothes and other things the child wants but doesn’t necessarily need. The child can also regain lost chips by doing extra chores. My wife and I are searching for a way to get our kids, ages 6 and 9, to do some light lifting around the house. What do you think of this system?

Parenting December 2023: Put the Brakes on Bad Holiday Behavior

John Rosemond

Living With Children by John Rosemond

Parenting December 2023: Put the Brakes on Bad Holiday Behavior

Q: I’m already dreading the holidays. Our eight-year-old is a very excitable child and our family is expected to attend numerous holiday get-togethers at the homes of family members. When he’s included in events where there’s lots of excitement and anticipation in the air, he has a reputation for becoming very impulsive, loud, talkative, bouncy, and generally annoying. He’s also the oldest grandchild and the other, younger kids tend to follow his lead. I do not want to be constantly correcting him, but I don’t know what else to do.

Parenting November 2023: Silly Children, Decisions are for Parents

John Rosemond

Living With Children by John Rosemond

Parenting November 2023: Silly Children, Decisions are for Parents

My wife and I were enjoying an evening out in one of our favorite restaurants when a family of three—mother, father, girl of perhaps four—were shown to a table next to ours. Immediately, the parents began asking the little one where she wanted to sit. They both stood while she went about trying each chair until she finally settled on one. Well, not really, because as soon as everyone sat, she wanted to move, so she and her father exchanged seats. This entire process took several minutes.

Parenting October 2023: Tantrums, Pets and Toddler Behavior

John Rosemond

Living With Children by John Rosemond

Parenting October 2023: Tantrums, Pets and Toddler Behavior

Q: When we reprimand our 34-month-old daughter for something, anything, she begins to wail like we’re beating her. Whether we firmly redirect or simply say, "No,” she begins to wail like a banshee. The wail is piercingly loud, like a full-blown tantrum. She has now started screaming if one of us even looks disapprovingly at her. Shouldn’t she have outgrown this by now? Why is she doing this, and what can we do to stop it?

Parenting September 2023: Teach Your Children About Mountains & Molehills

John Rosemond

Living With Children by John Rosemond

Parenting September 2023: Teach Your Children About Mountains & Molehills

I grew up in the “You’re Making a Mountain of a Molehill” Era, also known as the Age of “Children Are Starving in (fill in the blank with some remote place), and by golly, I’m a better person for it!

First, some historical context: I am a Baby Boomer, a child of the ‘50s. I remember the first time I heard Elvis. I was in a diner with my mother and “Don’t Be Cruel,” one of the ten greatest rock songs of all time, came on the jukebox. Mom couldn’t stand him. I was hooked before the hook.

Parenting August 2023: Sometimes Moms Should Not Interfere

John Rosemond

Living With Children by John Rosemond

Parenting August 2023: Sometimes Moms Should Not Interfere

Q: Our 22-month-old son has developed a bad habit of spitting out bites of food. The first time it happened, I had set a cup on his tray while he was still chewing. He removed the food from his mouth, set it on his tray, and took a drink. I thought nothing of it, but it’s gotten progressively worse. Sometimes he’ll chew a bite of food for a while, take it out of his mouth, put it on his tray, and take a bite of something else. Then he puts the half-chewed bite back in his mouth and begins chewing on it again. If I catch him before he spits out a bite, I can sometimes coach him into chewing and swallowing. We have tried only giving him one bite at a time once the prior bite is swallowed, but this isn’t working. What can we do?

Parenting July 2023: Rosemond’s Bill of Rights for Children

John Rosemond

Living With Children by John Rosemond

Parenting July 2023: Rosemond’s Bill of Rights for Children

In 1993, President Clinton signed the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, an international treaty that extends to children the rights to associate with whom they please and have access to all forms of media, among other head-scratchers. Thankfully, as of March, 2023, the U.S. Senate has not ratified this nefarious document.

I subsequently channeled my indignation into a counter-document titled “Rosemond’s Bill of Rights for Children.” Recently, numerous folks have requested that I reprint the “Bill of Rights.”

So, in tribute to civilized behavior, I give you the short list of a child’s rights:

Parenting June 2023: Fathers Are Important. Period.

John Rosemond

Living With Children by John Rosemond

Parenting June 2023: Fathers Are Important. Period.

Q: “What have I done to cause my 18-month-old son to reject me?” asks a new dad. Whenever he tries to hold his son, feed, dress, or change him, the child puts up great resistance and screams hysterically for his mother.

A: Actually, Dad is describing behavior that is not at all unusual for this age child. It has its roots in the fact that with rare exception, the parent who has been at the child’s beck-and-call until now has been the mother. During infancy and early toddlerhood, even the most well-intentioned father is considerably less involved with his child than is his wife.

Parenting May 2023: Don't Push the Issue

John Rosemond

Living With Children by John Rosemond

Parenting May 2023: Don't Push the Issue

Q: My almost-3-year-old, when I begin to do something, will yell, “I WILL DO IT!” When it’s something he can do, fine, but if it’s not, then I just say, “No, Mommy will do it” and that’s the end of it. He also tells me, probably ten times a day, “No nap, Mommy! No nap!” When it’s nap time, however, he goes upstairs and gets in his little bed without a fight. Finally, when I tell him to do something, he’ll say, “Ummmm, no.” But then he turns right around and obeys. Should I make an issue of any of this?

Parenting April 2023: Children Accept Leadership, They Abuse Control

John Rosemond

Living With Children by John Rosemond

Parenting April 2023: Children Accept Leadership, They Abuse Control

My wife and I were enjoying an evening out in one of our favorite restaurants when a family of three—mother, father, girl of perhaps four—were shown to a table next to ours. Immediately, the parents began asking the little one where she wanted to sit. They both stood while she went about trying each chair until she finally settled on one. Well, not really, because as soon as everyone sat, she wanted to move, so she and her father exchanged seats. This entire process took several minutes.

Then the parents began reading to her from the menu and asking her what she wanted to eat. She was obviously having difficulty deciding, so her parents began making suggestions. “Perhaps you’d like this. You had this once and you liked it. How about trying it again?” No, she didn’t think so, so her parents went through the process again…and again…and again.

Parenting March 2023: Play, Have Fun & Remember… You’re Not Your Child’s On-Call Playmate

John Rosemond

Living With Children by John Rosemond

Parenting March 2023: Play, Have Fun & Remember… You’re Not Your Child’s On-Call Playmate

Q: I have two boys, 18 and 33 months. How much time each day should I spend involved in activities with them? Also, they chase one another around the house and other sorts of roughhousing, but they hardly ever play with their educational toys. Is there some way I can get them interested in these things?

A: The notion that parents need to get down on the floor and play with toddlers a certain amount of time each day is very post-1960s (i.e., without substance). If you feel like getting down on the floor and making a block castle with one of your children, do so. On the other hand, if you don’t feel like it, then don’t. Your children should not learn that you are an on-call playmate.

Parenting February 2023: Finding Order with Toddlers and Teens

John Rosemond

Living With Children by John Rosemond

Parenting February 2023: Finding Order with Toddlers and Teens

Q: I’m a single mom who works from home. At noon, I pick up my 5-year-old from half-day kindergarten. Because I’m unable to pay attention to her while I’m working, she wants to watch television for the rest of the afternoon. We have a no-TV rule on school days, but I find myself unable to enforce it. If she isn’t watching TV, she’s at my door, complaining of boredom. Help!

A: My mother was single for most of the first seven years of my life, during which she worked and attended college. When she was home, studying or writing, she made it clear that her work was more important than my whims. Did I want more of her attention? Absolutely! Did I suffer because she created and enforced a boundary between us? Absolutely not!

Parenting January 2023: Boundary No. 1 is the Marital Bed

John Rosemond

Living With Children by John Rosemond

Parenting January 2023: Boundary No. 1 is the Marital Bed

Q: Several months ago, my husband and I allowed our five-year-old daughter to sleep with us for a couple of nights. We thought this was innocent, but she began crying hysterically when we tried to move her back to her own bed. We compromised by letting her keep her iPad with her until she fell asleep but quickly realized that her device keeps her awake well past OUR bedtime. If we try to make her turn it off, she becomes highly agitated and it’s just not worth it. How can we get her back in her own bed without dramatics?

A: I can help you get your daughter back in her own bed, without a device, but “without dramatics” is a non-starter at this point.

The pertinent question: Why do you and your husband have difficulty making decisions that upset your daughter, especially given that the decisions in question—she sleeps in her own bed through the night and without an electronic insomnia machine—are good ones?

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.