Sometimes Kids SHOULD feel bad
By: John Rosemond
Before mental health professionals built the Tower of Parent-Babble, when common sense rule the rearing of children, parents held children accountable for their behavior. They taught children the universal accountability principle: For every choice, there is a consequence. Good choices bring good consequences and bad choices, bad ones. Parents also understood, however, that life in the real world wasn’t exactly that simple. A person must make a lot of good choices over a relatively long period of time to reap the rewards of his efforts, but a bad choice is usually punished immediately. Therefore, parents (and teachers) usually didn’t make a big deal over the good choices a child made. They simply encouraged him to make more of the same. But when the child made a bad choice, look out.
Today’s parents, by contrast, have been told by the keepers of the Tower of Parent-Babble that they are responsible for making their children feel good about themselves. This is accomplished by making big deals over the good things-nay, even mediocre things- children do, as in, “Oh, Bubba! I like it so much when you flush the toilet after using it! You’re such a special little fella! Yes, you are!” Because you can’t make children feel good by making them feel bad, parents are not, under any circumstances, to make them feel bad about anything. And when they do (by mistake, of course, probably because they themselves had a bad day), they are to make up for it by performing extraordinary acts of compensation. I keep seeing a certain poster in schools around the country. It reads: “For every time you say something negative to your child, praise him/her 10 times.” When I see this poster, I think, “Babble.” What is wrong with telling a child who’s wronged someone else that he ought to be ashamed of himself, or that you won’t accept a piece of second-rate work, or that he’s in need of an emergency attitude adjustment?
In the real world, of course, there’s nothing wrong with any of this. Every real-world parent knows there are times when its necessary to make statements of this sort to children, sometimes even followed by punishment.
“But, John, don’t statements along those lines hurt a child’s feelings?” Well, yes, they do. But inflicting temporary hurt to a child’s feelings and destroying the child psychologically are entirely different. A social conscience cannot develop without occasionally causing a child psychic pain, as in shame, embarrassment and remorse. Please don’t exaggerate what I am saying. I’m not talking about causing children to loathe themselves, but rather to view themselves with humility. To develop humility, a child must come to grips with penance and atonement. The spiritually mature adult, when he does something wrong, will impose penance upon himself and prescribe appropriate means of atonement. But a child is not spiritually mature; therefore, it is rare that a child, after doing something wrong, will voluntarily impose and prescribe these things upon himself. They must be imposed on him by adults. Unfortunately- and largely because of the keepers of the tower have confused the realities of child rearing and replace them with the mythology of “progressive parenting”- there is today a dearth of parents who fully accept this responsibility.
In the same schools where hangs the above poster, teacher and principals told me that many if not most of today’s children refuse to accept responsibility for their misbehavior, feel they should be rewarded for any work, no matter how mediocre, and are generally self-absorbed and disrespectful. I rest my case.