Parenting “Experts”? Eh, Not So Much

The very idea is laughable

We who have attained a certain age can look back on our youth and remember absolutely nothing about the current practice of parents paying others to learn how to manage their kids.

Not because our memories are failing, but because it just wasn’t done.

Today we see and hear commercials and print ads promising — finally! — controllable kids. No more attitude! No more behavioral issues! No more defiance!

There used to be a way to do this without paying strangers. It was called “discipline”.

Perhaps you remember it. It involved the quaint idea that we should expect kids to live up to certain standards — commonly understood, socially supported standards — and that failure to live up to those standards sometimes brought pain.

It was backed up by another quaint idea, that of “resilience”. Kids weren’t viewed as fine pieces of crystal that would shatter if parents failed to honor their “self-esteem” here and there.

Most of us seem to have come out OK from all that, eh?

Today people look at you funny if you tell them that you spank your kids: “oh, the horrors that must go on in your house!” Yeah, it’s a regular torture chamber, with all the laughing and stuff. And the yelling! Oh my God, the yelling. We have to tell the kids to dial it down multiple times per day.

Here’s an idea: kids are uncontrollable unless you do whatever is required to control them. Often, talking to them as if they are little adults is exactly the wrong thing to do; you change the terms of the relationship when you explain incessantly. If you embark on a negotiation between two equal parties, guess what you get? A negotiation between two equal parties.

What is intended as parenting is instead seen, correctly, as weakness. Kids learn to exploit it quickly. And once you give up control, good luck getting it back again.

Of course, nothing here should be seen as defending scumbags who abuse their kids; that is another kettle of fish entirely. But we have definitely lost something useful, by changing the concept of what is considered “normal” in the parenting realm. Pop psychology has tried to redefine what it means to be a parent. Draconian laws and courts have intruded on the domain of what a family “is”.

Has any of this stopped, or even slowed, real abuse of children? Or has it, instead, unleashed a wave of unnecessary parental self-flagellation and child worship that actually serves to harm the child? And by extenstion, at least to a degree, all of us?

From where I stand, it’s the latter.

Let me offer a suggestion: buck up, people. Use your own best judgment on how to parent your kids. Don’t listen to the “experts”; unless your own parents were psycho, you can take what they did, fix the things you didn’t like, and build on it. Generally speaking, it will be OK.

Kids are pretty hard to mess up — unless you are a complete tool — so spending time worrying about it isn’t worth it. Always try your best, and realize you are imperfect and could use some polishing too, and move on. Generally speaking, it will be OK.

Someday, when you look back on all that you did, and all that your life was, the sum total of it all, you most assuredly will not wish you had listened to more parenting “experts”.

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