A Lost Art: Instilling Respect
Washington Post Article Summary
There's been a fundamental change in family life, and it has played out over the years in Patricia Dalton’s office. Teachers, pediatricians and therapists like her are seeing children of all ages who are not afraid of their parents. Not one bit. Not of their power, not of their position, not of their ability to apply standards and enforce consequences.
In the Washington Post, Dalton describes how she has seen small children call their parents names and tell them they are stupid. She has heard adolescents use strings of expletives toward their parents. Her assessment: Not only are the kids unafraid of their parents, parents are afraid of their kids!
Many parents these days don't expect their children to contribute much around the house, although they do expect them to achieve outside the house. They have strong beliefs about what makes children successful and happy-ever-after, and underpinning those beliefs is the concept that they -- the parents -- are all-important in this quest.
Such parents believe that self-esteem is the key to lifetime success, and to this end they compliment their children a lot. They are egalitarian, and they believe families should be democracies. Needless to say, they don't give orders. They believe that children will do things when they are ready to do so. They ask their child politely if he or she will do something and are surprised and dismayed when the response is "no."
It's as if parents have rewritten the Fourth Commandment to read, "Honor thy children." And, boy, are they paying for it. When a teacher, pediatrician or therapist suggests that perhaps these "parenting" behaviors are not helping but in fact causing harm, such earnest parents can be hard to convince. They don't want to have to hear that their New Age concepts for raising kids not only do not work, but actually are prescriptions for disaster.
Reprinted with permission from the Public Education Network’s NewsBlast newsletter. The PEN Weekly NewsBlast is a free e-mail newsletter featuring school reform and school fundraising resources. The PEN NewsBlast is the property of the Public Education Network, a national association of 79 local education funds working to improve public school quality in low-income communities nationwide.