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Good behavior should not be a choice
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My recent series, “I’m ready for the 1960s to be over and done with,” set off nervequakes in some readers. My theme was American parenting began its continuing downhill slide in that dumbest and most deconstructive of decades. One fellow, obviously intent upon lowering my self-esteem, speculates that I either have yet to emerge from the Stone Age or just crawled out of the bomb shelter my parents stuffed me into in 1959. He refers specifically to my contention that children should not be allowed to express feelings freely. He writes, sarcastically, “Like love, maybe?”
Well, since he mentioned it, yes, children should not even be allowed to express feelings of love freely. The problem with this fellow’s thinking is the problem in contemporary American parenting. He implies that children should be allowed what adults are not allowed. In so doing, he inadvertently nails the problem. That very “child-centered” philosophy is the prime reason for the general degradation of parental discipline and therefore child behavior since the 1950s.
Once upon a time, when a child of even toddler stage did something rude or anti-social, he was told, in no uncertain terms to stop, be quiet, apologize, give it back, leave the area, or whatever was appropriate to the situation. Silly attempts to reason — as in “You’re making bad choices” — were not a feature of the Stone Age parent’s vocabulary. In this way, children learned, early on, to control the expression of certain behaviors and feelings in certain situations. That is how, by the way, a child is socialized, and it is in a child’s best interest to be sensitized to social norms as early as possible.
As I write this, in an airport waiting area, a mother is following her toddler as he runs up and down the rows of occupied seats, yelling incoherently, causing a general disturbance. Mom is smiling, as if she thinks this is cute. No doubt she would agree with my critic. Her child wants to run and yell in a public area; therefore, he should be allowed to run and yell (and she should run grinning after him, doubling the disturbance). I’m certain that the Stone Age mother would have removed her child from the area, insisted he calm down, and taught him to sit quietly with her.
And everyone, including her child, would have benefited from her repressive, draconian attitude.

Psychologist Rosemond answers questions on his Web site at

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