The following true story was recently related to me by a credible individual who for obvious reasons will remain forever anonymous. I pass it on because it is a quintessential example of the general intemperance of today's parenting.
The scene opens in the white-collar home of a 14-year-old girl and her parents. She is an only child...Read more
Some of the sources that inform today’s parenting do not come to immediately to mind when one thinks of raising children. Take Karl Marx (1818 – 1883), for example. Along with his buddy Friedrich Engels, Marx articulated the fundamental principles of communism. He proposed that capitalism was an economic and social system that exploited and ...Read more
Question: In last week’s column, you advised parents not to argue with teenagers. That’s fine and dandy advice, John, but you failed to tell your readers how to stay out of or end these arguments. For example, my strong-willed, stubborn, argumentative 14-year-old daughter wants to argue with me about nearly every decision I make, every “No...Read more
My advice to The Wall Street Journal, the only news source to which I subscribe: Stop trying to be all things to all people. Specifically, stop giving parenting advice.
The latest attempt by WSJ to complicate parent-child matters is a November 7 article oxymoronically titled “The Smart Way to Argue with Your Young Teen” in which the author,...Read more
One of the disadvantages of this job is that I rarely have enough space in which to say all that I'd like to say. Take last week's column in which I said "Consequences should be employed whether they work or not." Some elaboration is in order.
Today's parents tend to believe in behavior modification. They believe, in other words, ...Read more
Question: Our 17-year-old daughter is bright but puts very little effort into her schoolwork. For example, she currently has very low grades in several classes simply because of not turning in assignments. Her only after-school activity is hanging out with her friends, so the problem, in our estimation, is simply one of setting priorities...Read more
The new school year is still fresh and “it” has already begun, “it” being the ongoing effort on the part of schools to persuade parents that there is something wrong with their kids’ brains.
This year, this effort is about something called “executive function,” which the Harvard Center on the Developing Child defines as the “...Read more
Noting that October is Bullying Prevention Month, several editors have asked if I am willing to write an apropos column. I am and for two reasons feel eminently qualified to do so.
My first qualification is that I was bullied as a youngster. It began in the fifth grade with George K. He would run me down, wrestle me to the ground, ...Read more
Q: Dinner with our three kids always, and I mean ALWAYS, turns into a disaster. Typically, the oldest, 11, begins to needle the youngest, 6, and then, when the middle one, 9, figures out which of them is winning, he jumps in on that side. We've yelled, sent the instigator from the table so we can restore a semblance of order, not ...Read more
In 1971, a psychologist named Fitzhugh Dodson published a book titled How to Parent. It did so well that he came out several years later with How to Father. By 1971, Dodson was one of a handful, if that, of child-rearing traditionalists left in psychology, but his titles were quite progressive. In short order, parent and parenting became verbs, ...Read more
In the late 1960s, America came to a fork in the parenting road and took the road never traveled. My generation did what no generation in any culture at any time in history had ever done: we broke with the parenting traditions of our foremothers and forefathers. When the time came, we refused to take the well-worn parenting baton and carry it ...Read more
Question: Over the past year or so, our 5-year-old has developed an extreme fear of going to the doctor or dentist. This came on suddenly, without a precipitating incident. The crying begins when we arrive at the appointment. When the doctor or nurse tries to examine him, he goes bonkers—screaming, hitting, kicking. He has to be held ...Read more
Amanda Johnson, a second-grade teacher in Laramie, Wyoming, has caused quite a stir both among her colleagues and constituents and—because her educational incorrectness was covered by national media—across the USA. Her claim to fifteen minutes of fame: Citing research purporting to show that homework does not improve overall achievement, Ms....Read more
Just when I am teetering on the edge of despair concerning the state of child rearing in America, dwelling much, much too obsessively on the damage being done to children and the nation by parents who won't allow their children to take full responsibility for themselves, a little beam of light finds its way through the darkness and rekindles my ...Read more
Question: Our sixth-grade son has always been an excellent math student. This year, however, he melts down every time he does math homework. Within minutes, he becomes highly agitated, begins crying, and says it’s too hard and he can’t do it. We spoke with his teacher who says that he’s having no problem in class. She had no ...Read more
Question: In a recent column, you advise that stepparents have complete disciplinary authority over all children who live in or visit the home, but do you feel the same policy should apply when the stepparent joins the family when the kids are teenagers instead of younger children?
Answer: Your question is of great importance...Read more
Question: We are looking for a private school for our 4-year-old. Regardless of the school we ultimately choose, we want to keep him there through eighth grade at least. We live in an suburban area so we have a lot of options to choose from. Our son is intelligent, creative, and very imaginative. Do you have a recommendation?
Answer: ...Read more