Parents Who Don't Parent
April 7, 2005

The other day, a few friends and I got into a very interesting conversation about the cultural implications of this gut-wrenching new reality show called, "The Supernanny." For the record, don't watch it. Once was enough for me. Let me spare you the coronary I nearly had when I saw a 6-year-old boy cuss at his mother. Say what? Nothing makes me want to hurl my television into the Pacific Ocean more than seeing family dysfunction on primetime. Is it just me, or are 21st century children growing ruder by the second?

"The Supernanny," (in short) chronicles the life of a family with hellion misbehaving children as they become subject to the advice of an experienced British disciplinarian nanny-type. The show is not without the typical clever editing and musical underscore that tells you how to emote. By the end of the one-hour show, the parents are in awe of the results of fairly stand standard disciplinary principles employed by the "Supernanny," as if to say, "You mean when we discipline our children, it works?"

Why yes you fools. It does.

See I have this problem. I can't stand disrespectful children or the parents that raise them. When I'm in a store and I hear a non-mortgage-paying adolescent talk back rudely to their parent, I have to exit the premises. It makes me sick to my stomach. Call me a traditionalist, but I think young people should respect their elders--especially the elders that pay the electric bill and stand in line at the crack of dawn to buy overpriced basketball shoes. You know, the sneakers (or tennis shoes depending on region) that kids kill for.

It seems the last 20 years have given birth to a new breed of ungrateful offspring (myself included at times) that live life out of entitlement and lack proper appreciation.

When I was growing up, "What" was a bad word. When an adult called our names and we answered, "What?!" it was over. We were read our last rights and death soon followed. To this day, there are adults whose first names I still do not know because we always had to address them as "Mr." and "Mrs." And yet these days it's considered "cool" for kids to call their teachers "Bob" and "Chloe." I don't care how progressive we get, I do not foresee a day when I would address my parents by their first names.

For someone who's never been a parent, I've never lacked an opinion on child-rearing. Take my thoughts with a grain of something if you must. As the days go by, I am more convinced that almost 95% of our country's problems could be solved in the family. I've said it before and I'll say it again. We don't have crime problems; we have family problems. Family dysfunction spills into the streets, and eventually we pay for it with our tax dollars and more painfully--our time. Rarely do we make that glaring connection. Instead, we collectively throw our hands up in the air, wondering where our society went wrong.

To make matters worse, now we need television shows geared toward helping parents learn that they have to discipline their children. I realize that children don't come with manuals, but COME ON. Seriously, some of these peoples' children should be confiscated. And I know what you're thinking: it's just entertainment. It's scripted. It's fake. I agree to an extent that surely creative license is taken, but the children's behavior--that's all real. No matter how commercial the reality television scenario has become, something tells me there are desperate parents around the country tuning in each week with baited breath, pad and pencil in hand, taking copious notes whilst frustrating themselves in trying to employ the "naughty rug" method.

"The Supernanny" is not the issue. It's a symptom of a greater problem, and the fact that the show is even a hit speaks to the dry place the family must be in. There is a bigger picture here. The family is the training ground for life. It was designed to prepare us to be productive and purposeful members of society. When children are not properly disciplined, I fear for their success in life. Why? Because society's chastisement hurts far worse than that of a mother or father.

Growing up, my parents used to "minister" to us via a wooden rod. In other words, we got our rear-ends spanked. Every last one of us. It hurt too. Spanking isn't really the issue. While I'm a huge corporal punishment proponent, it's not so much the method as it is the principle. Discipline can look a number of different ways. Namely, when children are young, there has to be an association between sin and pain. Once that revelation is had, adulthood will be a much smoother process.

My fear however, is that when young people are not given the opportunity to associate their wrongdoing with severe consequences, they become destructive adults to both themselves as well as society.

Teaching children to properly address adults isn't so much about the title as it is acknowledging the authority that comes along with the title. When children become too common with authority, they're less likely to respect it. Referring to adults as "Mr." and "Mrs." so and so prepares children for submitting to authority as an adult. This is something we all have to do.

I recently read a study out of the University of Washington that found: "The more time four-year-olds spent watching television, the more likely they are to become bullies." Since we're a blame-based society, our first inclination would be to use the results of the study as further proof that television is a bad thing. The verdict is fairly secure on that accusation. Television is bad. But the real issue doesn't seem to be media intake. The real issue is the replacement of quality family time with media intake.

The family is desperately in need of repair and children are suffering. It's shows like "The Supernanny" that remind me why better child-rearing could save us all a few tax dollars.

Posted by Ambra at April 7, 2005 2:37 AM in Culture
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Hey... this reminds me of a show I caught on A&E the other day called "Intervention." They featured this one guy who was 31 years old and a compulsive gambler. I guess he allowed himself to be videotaped because he thought he was on a show about addiction, but it's really a show about intervention. Anyway, this guy was a piece.of.work!!! He acted just like those brat children on the Supernanny shows except he was THIRTY ONE years old! He, without shame, proclaimed that "it is the duty of the parents to take care of their children... FOR LIFE!" He truly expected his parents to fork out thousands of dollars to cover his horrendous gambling habits. When they tried to confront him and say no, he would freak out (i.e., throw a temper tantrum) and looked like he was at the point of physically harming them. His own parents! I couldn't believe it. He was the most inconsiderate and selfish pig of a human being. When they did the "intervention," he accused them of not being loyal and not "fulfilling their duties as parents"... thus the blame for his outrageous problems lied on everyone else but himself. In the end, he did agree to treatment IF his parents covered the 2 grand that he needed to get to the bank the next day. (Although he was $800,000 in debt.) I just couldn't believe it. Supernanny needs to come and kick this guy into reality. But this guy was psycho. It disgusted me to see him featured on TV too. Completely nuts.

The other day I was channel surfing when I spent about 30 seconds watching a program featuring a supercilious, snot-nose, unctious, annoying brat. Was that what I was watching?

I honestly don't think it's that parents are neglectful so much as they've been told over and over again that spanking is the same as a fist in the face and must never *ever* be done. Parents are told, over and over, to reason with toddlers. GOOD PARENTS reason with toddlers. At one time I had four children aged six and younger... please trust me that toddlers can not be reasoned with. Full mobility and a lack of reason are what define toddlerhood.

I haven't watched the supernanny, though I've flipped past it at least once. Over all I'm glad for the show if it gets the message across that it's right and good for parents to demand respect and decent behavior from their children... that it's NOT going to crush their little spirits to make them behave.

Janna, if you actually watched that "intervention" show, you've got a much stronger stomach than I have. The ads for the show were enough to make me ill. I understand that gambling can be a real addiction but that guy had problems that had nothing to do with gambling. And *whine*! And I thought for the love of God, how could anyone let him expose himself on national television like that? Maybe he was too self-absorbed to comprehend the opinions of strangers?

I'd rather go to prison.

Julie,

I could barely stomach it either. I was watching more in shock/awe of his complete idiocy more than for any other reason. He truly has an ego so enormous that he can't even see the truth of the matter. You would think that if he watched himself behaving like that on television that he would see the problem for what it is... but I highly doubt it. Everything wrong in his life was the fault of other people... at least according to him. It was utterly ridiculous. Some people just need to get a clue. I think it would have been better if his family and friends DID excommunicate him or just completely refuse to bail him out anymore... but he'd probably get violent then or just kill himself. He had already attempted suicide four times... according to the show. This is what happens to little kids who get away with whatever they want. They learn how to manipulate until EVERYTHING is everyone else's fault. But they don't realize how stupid they look/are.

Ambra, THANK YOU. THANK YOU.

"When children are not properly disciplined, I fear for their success in life. Why? Because society's chastisement hurts far worse than that of a mother or father....when children are young, there has to be an association between sin and pain."

Absolutely. And when children are not properly disciplined, I fear for their souls when they grow up into men and women. Being in hell forever hurts far worse than a few spankings, too. I know how "harsh" that sounds, but hell is a reality, and if we refuse Jesus' blood and allow our flesh to rule us in this lifetime, that's where we're headed. I see loving, well-done discipline (as you describe here) as a huge hell-deterrent.

Julie is absolutely right. (It must be the name.) "Authoritarian" parenting is bad, bad, bad. Never spank, never control; persuade and reason instead. Children absolutely must be allowed to "express their emotions."

My classic example of this is an Oprah episode I watched several years back. The episode covered parenting, and of course the "spankers" were portrayed as the villains. One poor brave woman stood up and said, "When my two-year-old runs out into the street, I'm going to spank him." Oprah (having raised exactly zero children) said, "Why not just explain it to him instead?" which was of course followed by applause by her sycophantic audience.

Good mothers gently persuade. Good mothers compromise. Good mothers allow children to express their individuality. Good mothers negotiate.

Bad mothers spank. Bad mothers expect their children to obey. Bad mothers wash their kids' mouths out with soap. (Child abuse!)

Every program I've watched on television that dealt with parenting and every secular parenting book I've ever read expressed those views in one way or another. You have no idea how endemic that belief system is until you enter into the "parenting culture."

Julie B.

Halt people.

Before you go on an Oprah/Dr. Phil tirade against spanking, let's not get it twisted: Spanking does not equal authoritarian parenting. Senseless spanking does. There is such a thing as abuse.

From what I remember from my last ranting on how spanking saves tax dollars, Julie has some personal issues with spanking. That's fine. Personal convictions are just that: personal. I don't tell other people they should spank their children any more than people should tell me that I shouldn't spank my children (you know, the ones that I don't have).

This post dealt with discipline. READ BETWEEN THE LINES. The pain association doesn't have to be physical. I just happen to think that's the best way when children are young. I don't believe the rod should be spared. There comes a point when reasoning with 5 year olds is null. Seriously, I am so tired of hearing defenseless mothers trying to play Dr. Phil while their children lay on the floor of the supermarket screaming. Get a grip. This is where discipline (in whatever form you choose) is important. There are acceptable ways for children to express emotion. Temper tantrums are not one of those ways.

My parents spanked us and we never feared them. Never. They didn't abuse spanking, and they did it wisely. We knew they did it out of their love for us. It's crazy how some kids are so hungry for discipline, and when they get it, they actually become better-behaved. Why? Because they feel loved.

Spanking also depends on the child. By the time he was 4, Spanking was useless on my brother Austin. He was just too smart.

We got spanked for attitudes. Example: as children, if we were sternly told by our parents not to spill our milk and were careless and spilled it anyway, that was not a reason to get spanked. Kids are kids, they spill stuff. But if we had a bad attitude and the posession of a bad attitude led us to do something that made the cup tip over, then we got spanked. There's a huge difference. Parents need to get at the root.

Attitudes (bad ones especially) determine behavior.

Whether it's sitting in the corner, on a stoll, on a mat, or having welts on your butt cheek, the point is, there has to be a negative association with bad behavior. Too few children get that these days. And the reality is, when children are young, standards for living have to be consistently and overtly enforced. It's like when you're growing plants. They have to be bound to a straight stick (the word of God) when they are in their infancy so that they grow upwards and properly develop.

Hm. Now I'm not one to bask in the fabulousness of my own analogies, but that last one, that gardening reference....that'll preach.

Haven't you heard of the Blockbuster syndrome?
You need two pieces of ID to rent a movie at Blockbuster, but they let ANYONE be parents.

You're right, Ambra...that's a darn near perfect analogy:)
And it's true that there is a critical difference between being authoritative and being authoritarian....the latter leads to abuse and alienation.
One thing that has worked in my household is having the rules actually written down and posted on the fridge, right at eyeball-level for my almost-4 year old son. Every transgression results in a smack.
The other day my son told the bagger at the grocery store "my mom gives me lots of spankings." lol Fortunately, the guy was an older gentleman and said "that's a good thing!"

Just to clarify...I meant a smack on the butt, of course.

ha.

I don't watch this show but I have used the previews as a sort of scared straight for my three little ones. After the preview I ask them, what will happen to you if you where to do that? The answer is always the same Oh man I would get a spankin!!!!!!!!!!!!

and let's not forget...the bible says "spare the rod RUIN (not spoil) the child."

personally, my children will not be ruined by today's b.s. parenting culture

I don't know if that was me or not, but just to clarify... I'm not against spanking (though I won't insist on the rod, either) I was just expressing the constant message that parents are given. The parents who refuse to parent likely *really* don't know what else to do.

I still answer "Yes" or "Yes Sir/Ma'am" when someone calls my name. I wasn't aware that answering "What?" was stigmatized in other households as well.

I think that lack of discipline is a problem, and lack of effective communication is a bigger problem. It doesn't matter if you spank your kids, if they are confused as to why. They will fear you instead of revering you.

Everytime I got a whoopin', I got a prefatory speech and a concluding speech as to why. I've NEVER heard my parents yell at me. If they ever wanted to speak to me as a child, they'd bend over, look me in the eye and speak sternly to me, making sure that I understood what was being communicated, and the repercussions for opposing what was being said as well.

I use this with kids who barely even know me at my church (the communication part, never had to give a whoopin' there). It works. It's also interesting that the kids at my church are scared to death of you calling their parents.

And speaking of communication, I wish people would stop all the 'ga-ga goo-goo' talk with babies. It serves as a detriment to their cognitive growth.

Ambra: you're right, it'll definitely preach.

Strong points.
The show is wild. It does give interesting tips if you are one to go the soft route.

Wow. I love the anology. You hit the nail on the head that last time. Spanking is not necessarily the right thing all the time. You should try to reason with your children. Once they no longer follow reason, "get that butt." (As my mom says). My wife an I are parents of a 1.5 week old child and I will spank her when need be...because I love her!

BTW, Ambra, I found your site from Michelle Malkin's blog and I must say, I love it! I read it now everyday when I can. Continue on.

Thank you Thank you Thank you. I am a preschool teacher and a mother of two (ages 4 & 2) and I am so sick of parents who are so afraid that their kids won't like them to even enforce a bed time. My kids aren't perfect but they do know who is in charge and who deserves respect. When I introduce them to adults it is always with "This is MR. Smith." You would be surprised how many times Mr. Smith says "Oh just call me Joe!" It makes me want to scream. I actually stopped a little boy in the parking lot the other day who was running away from his father. When I handed him back the father thanked me and then didn't say word one to the kid who was at least 5. I turned to my 4 year old son and asked him what would happen if he did that and he quickly answered "I'd get a spanking and you would take Baba" (his blanket). He understands that there are consequences for the choices he makes. Ambra I have no doubt that when you do have kids we won't have to worry about them being sent into the world with out learning that lesson.

My mom beat my behind all over the streets of chicago and now she lives with me in my own house. No love loss here.

You misunderstood me! I was trying to explain the pressure parents who discipline their children are under.

If we spank, expect obedience, etc. we are labelled as bad parents.

Believe me, all three of my darling boys have had a wooden spoon across their behinds more than once.

Julie B.

Janna, is this "Intervention" yet another reality show? I knew things were bad when PBS had a reality show, but now A&E too? This genre is getting on my nerves.

Ron mexico said, "My mom beat my behind all over the streets of chicago..."

Ahh yes, I feel your pain.

Alex, I think the Sir/Ma'am thing can also be attributed to the South. That's one of the things I love about the South. Everytime I'm in Texas or anywhere near, I get called "ma'am" more in two days than I do in a year up in Seattle, where people act like they don't even know eachother. Or worse, they call me, "Hey Lady." That one really bugs me.

Jennifer: Thanks for your vote of confidence in my future child-rearing abilities. We'll just hafta see. I'm in no rush, that's for sure.

Deuce: I love "get that butt." A friend of mine gave her rod a nickname. She calls it "Mr. Do Right." So when they're in public and he acts up, she says, "Do I need to get Mr. Do Right?" It's hilarious.

Julie & Julie B.: I do understand what you're saying. I do.

Our problem as a nation is that we've raised a generation of parents with absolutely no parenting skills. We learn our roles in life from those around us as we grow up. If I have a loving, caring family, I learn to be loving and caring. If Dad beats Mom then I learn its OK to beat women. The list goes on and on. We're reaping what our parent's generation sowed. The whole Dr. Spock generation bought into a skewed and unbiblical viewpoint of the parent/child relationship and now their children don't know how to be parents; they've had no examples of how to do it in their own lives. Of course, this isn't an excuse, but its always better to know *why* something is happening before you try to fix it. That way you can apply the remedy to the right cause.

Oh my goodness!!! My girlfriend and I have a conversation on this topic daily. I am a single mother of 18 and 11 year old girls and yes they grow more disrecptful by the second. I've never believed in sparing the rod, I spanked my kids when it was neccessary. Oh course after a certain age they get too old for spaking and more creative discipline methods are needed. My mother didn't share my philosopy and stills beleives she can "pop" my sister and I upside the head if we get too sassy, I'm 35 and she's 33. I've raised my kids in a structured, loving, consistent, and well disciplined manner yet they often resemble those ungrateful and disrecptful children you refer to in your post. The problem has been more with the older one and her sister just mimics her. I'm not perfect but I'm far from those dysfunctinal parents you see on that Nanny program yet I suffer many of the same challenges. What else can I do? My friends and relatives are shocked by my older daughter's behavior because they know I'm a strict disciplinarian. I've talked to so many parents with the same story and it's saddens me that so many of our children are so out of control. I called my best friend yesterday who doesn't have children yet and told her to just tie her tubes now and save herself the stress.

Something I wrote a couple years back on this very issue: http://unregulated.blogspot.com

Confession of a bad [according to Julie] mother....ME.
Yes...I am the bad mother Julie talked about.I admit it.While raising my three sons they were spanked when they really needed it, occasionally held soap in their mouths [ala 'A Christmas Story'], and knew that no meant NO. They also knew they were loved at all times and we often had people come up to us in public just to tell us how well behaved our kids were. They also, for the record, tried to pry my "secret" about how I did it out of me.They never liked the answer....too much work, and who has the time, were the statements I heard most often.
But after reading what Julie wrote I feel that I should call up each son at their three separate colleges and tell them to run to a shrink immediatly. You never know....
Even though they are all happy, very decent and smart individuals...there must be something wrong with them as they were disciplined when they grew up.
Julie....I know what you meant though. Nowadays if you grab, much less swat, or even speak sharply to a kid in a store [Ambra....heads up for your future children...this is where the little rats will bushwhack you as they know their rights better than you do.LOL] people will call the police and they will take it seriously.

I'm afraid that the US doesn't have a monopoly of these types of programmes. I just noticed this is on UK TV as I write (and no, I won't go and watch when I have sent this):

"Britain's Most Embarrassing Parents - Ant from Blue presents some of Britain's most embarrassing parents, and helps teenagers to exact their revenge".

It now appears to be acceptable to lampoon your parents on national TV. The mind boggles. This will hardly encourage respect for ones elders, will it?

I've met some very well-mannered children in the last few years, and their parents have obviously done something right. I'll have to try to suck their brains for information before my baby learns to walk - won't be long now!

Best childrearing book hands-down "the New Dare to Discipline" by Dr. Dobson. Am a stay-at-home mom with a baby and an almost 4 year old, these kids just love testing the boundaries. I know what I am supposed to do, it is not lack of knowledge, but sometimes is lack of will (on the parents part). Most of those parents are too busy with their own stuff to have the energy to deal with their kids... And raising kids is tough!! But if we don't do our jobs as parents when they are young, then we all pay the price.

One year working in the DC public schools showed me just how screwed up non-parenting parents are. I saw it growing up, but to see it from a different perspective saddened me. It made me realize why certain of the folks I grew up with acted how they acted, and have lived how they have lived. I will tell you this: it made me even MORE GRATEFUL for the parents God blessed me with. I have often told my parents that they saved my life with their discipline, even when they had the immediate facts wrong. You know, when you get that butt beat for something you REALLY didn't do. Still, I am glad my parents cared enough to not spare me the rod of correction. They were certainly Biblical in application of it. Proverbs 13:24 says, "He that spareth the rod HATETH his son: but he that LOVETH him chasteneth him betimes..." Proverbs 23:13 says, "Withhold NOT correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, HE SHALL NOT DIE." Right. A little discipline NEVER hurt anybody. Some will decry a little corporal punishment as abuse, but I am not talking about that. You see, humans (especially the young ones) NEED a reference point to influence their behavior. Sometimes, that reference point is PAIN. Those of you that choose not to discipline your children, PREPARE FOR A LIFE OF GRIEF. You shall certainly have it.

Anthony,

And you would change this situation exactly and specifically how...?

Shawna,
I wouldn't count too much on Mr. Dobson's advice. His son grew up, married and got divorced...a fact which his ministry has been trying to cover up for years. The son used to work with youth (what a good example!) and now also works with people who are divorced (it's a great life at Focus!).

Ambra,
There's no crime, just family dysfunction...? We'll talk in 20 yrs or so when you have teenagers. I've known many godly parents, who did the right things but their kids turned out very poorly. They never are able to forgive themselves for some supposed "dysfunction" acccording to some advice givers. Some of the things being said here would be cruel if offered to them. Unless we have kids who are at least teenagers, we all need to be very careful in what we say. I've known a lot of young folks who talked on and on about this and that regarding the family, who later had their households crumble around them until life became a living horror.

James,
Do you use a rod (long, large wooden stick) on your children?

For starters, I'm tired of people whining about how we can't say this and we can't do that until we're in someone else's shoes. I got similar feedback on the Shiavo commentary. This experiential ideology is a partially correct, however fails to discount the power every person has to filter this world through their worldview. Applying truth knows no boundaries. That's what we're all called to do.

Stan: So let me get this straight...you discount Dr. Dobson's book because his son grew up and got divorced, and then you carp about how many parents raise their children according to Godly strandards and still find that they live contrary lives. Please make up your mind about where you stand.

Will my future children turn out as I want them to? Probably not. But I can start praying now. I can apply the word of God and have faith that at the very least, they will walk in truth all the days of their lives. Everything else will line itself up from there.

And Stan, yes, I don't believe there's crime, I believe there's family dysfunction. And even well-intentioned parents who went by the book come up on troubled kids. We have an adversary. It's simple as that.

Ambra,
Not sure where you're coming from...I didn't carp about anything...I said that younger people often sit in judgment on those who have raised kids who didn't turn out right. You obviously have the right to say anything you want because it's your blog and all of us, young or old, are free to express ourselves as you have said. I'm calling for sensitivity to parents who did their best and the kids didn't make it. Young people like to make hard & fast pronouncements on the family only to suffer humiliation and embarassment later. I've seen it over and over and over. Living out the Scripture is a lot harder than reading it or talking about it. I had a friend in Bible college who had all the answers on parenting and was probably right. When he had a son, he started putting it all into practice, just like the Scriptures say. He was a pastor at the time but his marriage later failed and I don't know what happened to his children. He read all the right books and Scriptures and was sure he knew how to do it better than all the rest but his pride led to his downfall. When you say there is no crime, only dysfunction, you're putting it all on the parents and in doing that you are being insensitive and wrong. I hope you learn it now instead of later because you are misleading your readers.
As far as Mr. Dobson, I participated in reading his works and offering them to my parishoners for years. I was very concerned that his advice, for the most part, did not come from Scripture and still doesn't. The fact that his son didn't succeed in marriage means, according to you, that there was dysfunction in the home because God hates divorce. And I wonder why Focus hides the fact. The very best material I ever heard or read on the family was a series given by Chuck Swindoll in the late 70s. We used it in our Sunday nite services and it was outstanding. He used a lot of Scriptures and it was great. It may still be around...I hope so.
Why don't you go find a few Christian parents who tried to do their best only to have their kids depart from right and choose wrong. Ask them what happened and how they feel. Then pray with them for the kids they worry about every single night of their lives. I'll guarantee you that the talk of no crime, only dysfunction will end before you head out the door.

Stan, you're missing the point here. The focus isn't on Christian parents and their failures. The focus is on the failures in general of parents to raise their children according to Godly standards. There's no lack of compassion here.

Why don't you go find a few Christian parents who tried to do their best only to have their kids depart from right and choose wrong. Ask them what happened and how they feel. Then pray with them for the kids they worry about every single night of their lives. I'll guarantee you that the talk of no crime, only dysfunction will end before you head out the door.

Not sure I like the tone you're striking here. Don't' presume to know me that well please. I don't have too go far to answer the above. I can talk to my own parents on this topic as all of their children have given them a run for their money...and we're still waiting on one to get the revelation.

I lead mentor and coach young people every week at my church. I get phone calls from parents wanting intervention. I talk to parents who know what it means to do everything right and still get the wrong results. I know what it means when people say the family is under attack.

I understand how this issue can get personal for people. If it's personal for you, I certainly understand that.

This however, doesn't change the fact that every problem in our society originates in the family both directly and indirectly. That's God's method of transmitting blessing. That's His method of presenting a clear model to the world for how He desires to relate to the world. I also understand that because of those two things, the family will be under immense attack.

If you'll see the bigger picture here...it's not about bad parenting. It's about the need to do everything we can as a society to ensure that the family structure is supported, healthy and in tact, according to scripture.

And I still like Dr. Dobson's books. You can disagree but getting all worked up over his son getting divorced seems to miss the point. Dr. (Mr. as you like to call him) Dobson gives lots of examples of permissive parenting structures in the 70's and the havoc it created for the kids (interviewed today as adults). Maybe it doesn't have as many scriptures as you would like, but maybe some non-Christians will read it and get some good nuggets. It is the societal problem at large that needs help, major help. If the Supernanny and Dr. Phil help parents come out of their cluelessness, then I am all for them. (And our family problems ARE the root of pretty much all other problems; I have lots of renters and see more firsthand that I care too sometimes).

Ambra,
I'm very grateful for your ministry to families. That information adds a lot of balance to your initial comments. I thought you drew too harsh a line when you said "no crime, only dysfunction". That comment puts the whole burden on parents. Thanks for clarifying that position and may God continue to bless your efforts.
Shawna,
My reference to Dr. Dobson as Mr. is in keeping with Scripture, in which Christians are forbidden to take on titles which indicate that one has a higher position than another. And I do appreciate his work. As far as him not using Scripture, I understand his point and I believe he has been tragically wrong. Telling unbelieving parents how to parent without drawing them to the Scriptures and especially to Christ is misguided. I took the men in our church to watch his first film effort, "Turn your hearts to home" years ago. Lots and lots of good stories...he's a wonderful story teller and an absolutely engaging personality. But only very few Scriptures. No one could have been drawn to Christ. The same message could have been given by Dr. Phil and a host of others. Sorry, that won't do. There is a large and growing number of Christians who are in very serious disagreement with his philosophy and their concerns are worth listening to.

I don't see how "parents who don't spank" become "parents who don't parent." Yes, there are definitely a large number of parents who don't parent in this country. But again, "discipline" does not equal "spanking." Children don't need to be hit in order to learn right from wrong. I wholeheartedly disagree that pain is needed in this process. "To discipline" means "to teach." Children learn by example, by having things explained, by consistency and love, and yes, by consequences. But none of those have to involve a rod.

Well Joni, in that case, you haven't read the discussion. We arrive at the point that it's not about the method a few paragraphs back.

Look, ya'll can go back and forth all day if you want. Ambra is right. If families could get back to the basics of teaching AND MODELING respect & civility before their kids, it would help us not to lose another generation of young people. And I also understand about those parents who have tried to do right by their kids, only to have them go astray. My grandfather (now deceased) was a pastor who raised seven children. He and my grandmother did their best to train them and live before them the ways of righteousness. But several of them chose to go their own way. I do not fault my grandparents, nor anyone who has posted here if you're dealing with the same thing. You must take comfort in knowing that you did what you could. Continue to be there for your kids, don't give up on them, but at the same time, you must leave them in God's hands. One more thing, don't throw the proverbial "baby out with the bathwater". One time I got smart with my Mom, and she hauled off and socked me in the eye and knocked me unconscious. Betcha I didn't do that anymore! Even so, I love my Mama dearly and she will always be "my girl"! I think I turned out ok because she "put it on me" whenever I needed it! I appreciate her for it. To this day we have an awesome relationship, and even now with me being age 43, she'd still go upside my head if I got out of line! LOL

I have many firsthand experiences of standing silently on the sidelines of a saddening and dispicapal three years I see as a waste. A three and a half year old little free spirit with more imagination and adventure in his tiny little ambitous body, only to be continually crushed, little by little...by his mother. She is emotionally damageing my beautiful nephew and is blind to realize! She and his dad both are young and dumb lazy parents that need parenting lessons and anger management desperately. They seem so ignorant to the fact that now that they have given life to a little person they infact have a duty to instill values, morals, inspiration, motivation, love, teaching, so that one day their children will have all the neccessary tools to have a happy and successful life. From the bleachers as a spectator it looks more like they think their son is their possession to show off at the supermarket or walmart! They are more babysitter's than parents and I am so disgusted and my heart continues to break when I have to see him get yelled at out of anger and frustration I might add, instead of being sat down and told what it was he did out of line and that we shouldn't behave disrespectfully, and that no matter what it wouldn't mean I would love him any less. I feel that I need to take some action about this whole situation, and I know my sister well, and her famous phrase to a person with no children, I'd like to see you do better! Well I have to say that I am 19, I have a min wage paying job, I am also a recovering drug addict that attends court ordered drug treatment classes 3 seperate days a week, I don't have a car, and I am also bipolar, But I am extremely confident that I would be able to instill more values and give my little nephew a better sense of self-worth and I guarantee he would smile ten times more if my sister and I switched places for just one short week. I would blow her out of the water! I hate to be so crude, but sometimes I feel she doesn't deserve or even appreciate her kids. When the boy only has about 4 pants that fit and old hand me down shirts from older cousins, and she can afford to drink once or twice a week, and buy herself a new pair of pants or shoes, yet he is still wearing less than standard apparel, makes me so angry!! I will never understand how people can be so lazy, selfish, and destructive to their own offspring so bluntly and so obviously, yet they are so ignorant to see the damage they have done and will continue to do for years to come unless someone has the "cohenes" to step up and tell them they are so dead wrong in their "parenting" skills that it's horrific. I am that person for my sister, I'm gonna show her what a mommy dearest she is, and the potential for a great mom she has inside her, she just needs a little help, and I'm moving in, Nanny Tammy to the rescue!!!

Aw man, you missed your chance!
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Why I'm Not a Republican Parts I, II, III, IV
Reflections on the Ill-Read Society
The ROI of a Kid
The Double-Minded Haters
Hindsight
Hip-Hop in Education: Do You Wanna Revolution?
Oh parent Where Art Thou?
Requisite Monthly Rant: the State of the Nation
College Curriculum Gone Wild
Walmart Chronicles
An Open Letter to American Idol
Gonorrhea and the City