Feeling bashed by the media. The great age of parent bashing owes much to the media. All too often, good-enough parents have been labeled abusive parents.
Actually, parent bashing started with the call for parents to treat their children as a therapist would teach a deranged client. This was the stance of Thomas Gordon’s 12 roadblocks to communication. He listed all the things parents did that were wrong including:
- Ordering, directing or commanding: “Stop complaining and do something about it!” “You HAVE to do this. It was ordered by the court!”
- Warning or threatening: “You’d better get your act together if you’re gonna make it on probation.”
- Moralizing, preaching, giving “shoulds” and “oughts”. “You should learn how to plan ahead” “I can’t believe you think that’s okay!”
- Advising, offering solutions or suggestions. “It’s pretty clear that you need to….” “What I would do it….”
- Teaching, lecturing, giving logical arguments. “You’d better remember, you only have 2 weeks to get that community service done.” “You are not going to stay sober without going to AA!” The next responses point out inadequacies and faults:
- Judging, criticizing, directing, blaming. “You’re in still in bed at 11:00 in the morning!??” “You just can’t keep a job.” “You’re wrong.”
- Name calling, stereotyping, labeling. “That’s typical for addicts.” “Why don’t you act your age!”
- Interpreting, Analyzing, Diagnosing. “You are avoiding this!” “It’s not about being a felon, it’s because you’re not responsible.” “Do you know what your real problem is…?” These messages try to make the person feel better or deny there’s a problem:
- Praising, agreeing, giving positive evaluations. “That’s exactly what I would do!” “You’re a good guy.”
- Reassuring, sympathizing, consoling. “You’ll figure this out – no problem!” “Don’t worry. Things are gonna turn out just fine” This response tries to solve the problem for the person.
- Questioning, interrogating, cross-examining. “Why are you gonna do it that way?” “Do you still hang out with the same people?” This response tends to divert the person or avoid the subject all together.
- Withdrawing, distracting, humoring, changing the subject. “Seems like you got up on the wrong side of the bed today.” “I see the Vikings won last night. Are you a fan?”
Just reading the list makes me want to weep or tear my hair. Why? Two reasons:
- He is asking the impossible of parents. Therapists study for two or more years after college and then undergo hours of internships in order to get licensed. Even then many therapists are incompetent while others – the Behaviorist in particular – think most of the above rules are dangerous to the well being of all.
- He and those applying these rules did not remember age and stage. When the teen years are reached some of his advice works well. But only if the child has already learned proper ways to behave.
Why did his ideas gain so many followers? Mainly because within each of us lies a hurt child and many of those hurts where bestowed upon us by loving and well-meaning parents. We identify with that child and so wish parents had done a better job.
That meant that before becoming parents we vowed we would not behave toward children in the ways we were hurt by our parents. I know I did.
I also remember the first time as a parent, I heard my mother’s voice bursting forth from my lips. That was truly a wake-up call. Have you had such a call? Lucky you if you have not. Lucky your children if you had such a wake-up call and did better.
Parenting tip one: Given the above, the best tip for all parents is to learn all they can about age and state and most particularly what that means in teaching children right from wrong. A quick thought on that one: minimally from the age when the child starts walking and talking behavior is shaped by punishment and the desire for parental approval.
Children of this age believe “Might makes right.” Than means what they can get away with that feels good is okay. You have to be mightier then they are to teach right from wrong.
Parenting tip two: Learn and use the CARE Plan. It has been designed to allow parents to blow it, make an amends while holding a child to behaving properly. Here is how to CARE.
Parenting tip three: Stress being kind and that means teaching manners, but also giving in many other ways.
In terms of media proofing your child, accentuate stories about kindness. As this Christian Science Monitor story discusses the fact that people like to hear about acts of kindness and that includes your children. The story? Random acts of pasta: Why do acts of kindness go viral? (+video)
Parenting tip four: Use the media to discuss values, Start by noting sales pitches. Than can done even with Sesame Street for commercials follow the shows.
Parenting tip five: As always model the values you most want your child to hold to. If you want the newest gadgets, you are telling your child the newest gadgets matter. If you don’t give to charity, you are teaching your child not to care about others. If you are rude to strangers, you teach rudeness. If you make generalized statements about people, you are teaching prejudice.
THANK YOU FOR ALL YOU DO
Remember’s sharing is caring and the easiest way to practice kindness right now is to share this post with someone who will find it inspiring. Thank you.
INSPIRATION FOR THIS POST
This DAILY PROMPT : Ripped from the Headlines: Click over to whatever website you visit most frequently to get news. Find the third headline on the page. Make sure that headline is in your post.
Random acts of pasta: Why do acts of kindness go viral?. I cheated and looked for a headline that I could use in my post. Found this one on the Christian Science Monitor. What works work and it was a cheat that didn’t hurt anyone and gave the CSM a bit of publicity.
FREE POSTER COACHES
Like any coach, EFTI’s poster coaches inspire, teach, motivate, and reinforce thinking about what matters. To use, print up in color and post there it will be seen often. If not soon if for you, let me know and I will give it priority status.
Poster Coaches can also be used at Family Meetings to start a discussion about what matters. Most are free now, but I do plan to start charging for some in the near future.