Sources of parenting info are important
How do you make your decisions about parenting? By listening to the opinions of others? Following your instincts? Reading about the art and science of parenting?
All of these can be good ways, provided you use both your mind and your heart to evaluate what you hear and make your own decisions. This means you don’t follow advice that doesn’t feel right to you, that isn’t supported by good science or doesn’t stand up to critical analysis.
For decades, we have listened to self-proclaimed parenting experts who have told us that as long as we control our children’s behavior, we’re doing a good job. Columnist John Rosemond, for example, routinely tells parents to keep punishing undesirable behavior till it stops, completely dismissing the emotions, needs and motivations that underlie the behavior. Only in extremely rare cases, such as when punishment doesn’t “extinguish” the behavior, does he recommend therapy. He also believes “the ends justify the means,” recommending in many situations that parents lie to their children.
In one situation, a young boy who did not have anything physically wrong with him, according to his doctor, would scratch his arms till they bled and later pick off the scabs and show his bleeding arms to his mother. Mr. Rosemond told the mother to tell her son two lies: that a fictitious doctor had said this kind of scratching was caused by not getting enough sleep, and that the boy should be sent to his darkened bedroom right after dinner every night for two weeks and for an hour during the day any time he scratched his arms.
Both Rosemond and the mother were delighted when this approach resulted in the boy discontinuing the scratching behavior. They did not care in the least that they had learned NOTHING about what caused this abnormal behavior, nor did they consider whatever was disturbing the boy had now been driven underground, where it would probably fester and finally erupt in even more destructive ways.