Generation Cedar

Parenting Ditches: Western Parents Have Lost Their Minds

Parenting styles are like the ice cream choices at Baskin Robbins. There are lots of ’em, and everyone has a fierce favorite.

But I see ditches, and as a result, children in the ditches as well, suffering from well-meaning parents who make horrible parenting choices.

There’s the Tiger Mom, who turned moms everywhere upside down with her article, “Why Chinese Mothers are Superior.”

She is hard-core and I don’t agree with much of her philosophy, and though she says she nor her girls have been damaged by some of the techniques she uses, it’s hard to imagine that’s true.

But I agree with her on one thing:

Western parents have fairly lost their minds when it comes to their children and their self-esteems.

Because on the opposite end from Tiger Mom is the mother who gasped when my daughter (working in a preschool) told her 3-year old “no.” Not a harsh no, not a yelling no, just a firm “no.”

“She’s never heard that before. We embrace a parenting philosophy that doesn’t want her to have a negative view of herself. We don’t want her to think she has done something bad and “no” implies that.”

No, sister, your fairy princess will wake up in the real world some day (sooner than later, no doubt), and have an emotional break down because she is denied something flat out instead of being given a positive alternative.

Or she’ll have to go to therapy to deal with all the consequences of her bad decisions which she didn’t know existed until now.

There’s another trend, maybe not as harmful, but adds misery to a parent’s life:

Giving your toddler choices about everything.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m a huge fan of growing our children up and helping them make age-appropriate decisions. But letting your 2-year-old have his own preference about every trivial decision in life is hair-pulling insanity for mother and child. Furthermore, it’s in these formative years that a child needs to know mom is in control, she is wise, and he can rest in that. Contentment can grow there.

We have to shake the shoulders of our younger mothers and help them learn to parent sensibly and biblically. Because these coddled children will grow up–not into adults–but into large people who demand to have all their large needs met and throw a large tantrum when they aren’t.

Our children aren’t as fragile as we think they are. They need to feel consequences, to lose, to fall down and to know there are good choices and bad ones. Life is full of “no’s” and we harm them to pretend it’s not.

We should expect more. We should expect them to be kind, respectful, obedient and responsible. And when they’re not, we should show them the problem with that and lead them to correct it.

I love my children. I want them to grow up to have compassion, to be tender and to love others. I want them to feel confident and strong. I want them to think wisely and make good choices. I think that’s what most parents want for their children. But that doesn’t negate my responsibility to be the parent, to love them by saying “no” when needed, and to tell them what is best for them until they are demonstrating wisdom to make their own choices.

I want to help them navigate through the bumps and trials of life with a graceful resilience that comes from discipline and a parent who loves enough to be honest about the world and teach his child to survive in it.


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12 Responses

  1. This type of parenting philosophy is particularly scary and dangerous. I have very real, first hand experience with a family who started out this way and they write literally never said no to their daughter. I really didn’t even believe that was possible, until I witnessed it in real life. That girl is now dead. She died of a drug overdose when she was in her early 20’s, left a husband and 3 children behind. Her childhood was really quite unbelievable-one time she brought a stray dog home and wanted to keep it-her dad thought the dog looked dangerous, but the mother insisted that they did not deny their daughter this dog. He ended up attacking another child and the parents were forced to put the dog down. Instead of saying no up front, they allowed this girl to become emotionally attached, and then have to go through the trauma of her dog being killed. I could go on and on….

  2. I really believe this is why we as Christian Moms need to really be an encouragement and help to the moms we see around us. We can’t get to the point even after we have raised our children where we look at these things happening and say..”Been there and done that” and think we are finished!

    I don’t know where I would personally be or my children, if it hadn’t been for the Christian ladies who taught me and helped me when my children were younger.

    I also think it’s really easy to have an attitude that we are doing it so much better than other moms. We can’t become cynical. It’s so easy. People just really need the Lord. Only then can he really help us and guide us!

  3. I’m sure we have all seen examples of this. The most recent one for me was a large gathering at which every single child avoided the child who was raised that way. It was a matter of self preservation – even before the age of ten, he was so consistently unkind and selfish that other young children steered clear.

  4. And when those children “grow up” (the ones who never hear “no”) perhaps this whiner will be their role model:

    My favorite line: “We don’t need to have our actions scrutinized and ripped apart in search of error.”

    And we think we’re doing children a favor, letting them express themselves always in whatever way they wish, with nary a negative word directed at them for any reason.


    1. Keri,

      The writer of the article has trouble accepting a “no” answer. She blames others for not getting the job, and not her own actions, which were clearly demonstrated to have been inappropriate under the circumstances.

      My point in linking to that article on this post is that I think it’s a good example of what can happen when children are rarely or never told “No, your actions are unacceptable.” They come to expect that everyone they will ever meet in their lives will bend over backwards to give them what they want, and be perfectly pleased to do so.

      Or, in the author’s words, …you need to roll out the red carpet for us.

      In other words, they demand special treatment.

      Children who grow up with that sense of entitlement tend to continue demanding it as (chronological-only) adults. Give me what I want, or I will complain and publish, for the world to see, a “How dare you [thwart my will]” piece.

      It also demonstrates what can happen when this well-made point of Kelly’s is not followed:

      We should expect more. We should expect them to be kind, respectful, obedient and responsible. And when they’re not, we should show them the problem with that and lead them to correct it.

      The author of the article I linked was not respectful or responsible. She did not respect the interviewer’s time by being punctual. She was late, and rationalized it by saying it was “mild lateness,” and that she had other (presumably more important) things she needed to do first.

      She didn’t take responsibility for her actions. And when she was told why she didn’t get the job, rather than using that constructive feedback to increase her employability, she instead chose to blame others for the negative consequences she received.

      We as parents need to ask ourselves if we want our children to turn out like that woman, or others like her, who accept no responsibility for their actions and who expect the world to revolve around their schedules, to accept their dress codes, to never have their actions scrutinized, much less deconstructed and analyzed for error.

      If we don’t teach our children responsibility, obedience and proper respect to us, when they leave our home are they going to correctly and willingly respond to the authorities they run up against in the adult world?

      Too often, they do not.

      That was my point in bringing it up. We need to look beyond childhood and envision what adulthood should or shouldn’t look like.

      That article was an example of what adulthood should not look like.

      Hope that makes sense. 😉

      1. Followed the link you provided. Wow. It’s one thing to not accept any responsibility, it is something else to broadcast your lack of character to the world.

        1. No kidding. And she seems not to realize she’s shooting herself in the foot. Has she not heard of the many employers who lament the dearth of employees with good character? That company did her a favor by offering constructive criticism, yet she vowed she wouldn’t go down without a fight at the “injustice” of being passed by.

          No clue, that girl. Wow is right, Erin.

          1. Having recently attended a homeschool conference at which I went to Monica Irvine’s (The Ettiquite Factory) workshops, I am motivated to train our children to be well mannered, gracious, respectful and humble. Stories like this further motivate me.

            Today my four year old helped his two year old sister and after telling me what he did he said,”It’s what a gentleman would do, right mom?” There is hope :).

  5. Wow! This is so true, and makes me sick. As Beth commented above, I have also seen 18 and 19 year olds become addicted to heroin and other drugs when they get into “real life” and cannot handle it. They were pampered, and were never told no, because of the mothers’ “false-guilt” to satisfy their every fleshly need. They were never allowed to feel consequences for their actions at a young age when the stakes were not as high, and so they went into the world unprepared to deal with life. Please don’t understand me, I am not saying that every addiction problem is because of this issue, but I have seen a pattern in many families where this is an issue. I know that this philosophy of parenting was especially reinforced in our culture through Dr. Spock’s book in the 40’s, and has really infiltrated the public school system as well. My mother is a newly retired public school teacher, and she could barely stand to teach in her last years, because they were very limited in how they could discipline their students. In fact, parents even came into her classroom and threatened to sue her after she disciplined their children in class.
    Well, I know this is long-winded, but I think this is serious call for prayer, that we will be able to raise leaders in our homeschools in order to counter-act the culture, and be the hope for our nation!!

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