It is also well known that brain structures and functionality reflect prior training. I am led, by the preponderance of evidence contradicting the research in question, to conclude that teens who are self-dramatic, disrespectful, and lacking in empathy are the product of precisely what the study’s authors say they are not: homes in which they have been pampered, spoiled, entitled, and told that the only people on the planet who really matter are them. Of significance are consistent research findings to the effect that high self-esteem — the brass ring of American parenting since the early 1970s — is incompatible with empathy and respect for others and that bullies have high self-esteem.
One trains a child to pay attention and respond functionally to the needs of others. That does not happen magically. Historically, such social training involved rigorous teaching of social courtesies, a.k.a. good manners. The fact is that all too many of today’s parents are too busy running their children from one extracurricular activity to another to spend adequate time teaching them that the world doesn’t revolve around them, that other people matter. The researchers in question propose to let these parents off the hook.
Their attempt at parenting absolution makes no sense, but it will sell.
Family psychologist John Rosemond can be found on the web at rosemond.com and parentguru.com.