“The Parent-Centered Family”
Child raising is a science, an art, a project, a responsibility and a privilege.
It requires nurturing skills, intelligence, prayer, time, energy, determination, intentionality and desire.
Sounds daunting but not too worry sacrificing oneself is not required.
In fact, John Rosemond says parenting done properly is not all consuming and the process can be quite rewarding for both parent and child.
In the very first chapter of his book, The New Six-Point Plan for Raising Happy, Healthy Children, an updated and expanded version of the classic he wrote on the topic, he says families should be parent-centered rather than child-centered. What a relief!
…The most destructive myth ever manufactured and sold to parents…but almost universally subscribed to…children need lots of attention.
John says, “the secret to raising happy healthy children is to give more attention to the marriage than you give to the children.” He also suggests that giving your children too much attention is like over feeding them and we are just as responsible to limit the amount of attention they receive as we are to manage their intake of food. Excessive amounts of either can have disastrous effects.
These aren’t his words but he implied that giving a child too much attention turns them into self-absorbed individuals with over inflated opinions of their importance to society. They become all consuming social parasites. Everyone must constantly hear them, see them and/or entertain them.
John does say that the more attention a parent gives a child beyond what they really need, the less capacity they develop for:
- And achievement
And the outcome is diminished self-esteem.
On the other hand children that receive less attention than they want and only what they need become:
- Polite and so on
John says, “the job of parents is helping our children get out of our lives…and into successful lives of their own. It’s called emancipation.” And that works both ways, for parent and child.
Again, John didn’t exactly say this but children will only grow up if they develop a life of their own which is not umbilically joined to the life of the parents.
To encourage this outcome John makes several suggestions. The first three are very standard. The last one is the most significant:
- Don’t allow them to interrupt your conversations.
- Create a weekly “Parents Night Out” and don’t let anything except acts of God interfere with the commitment.
- Put children to bed early, i.e., at a reasonable hour for them.
- Require each child to spend at least some time during their waking hours entertaining themselves either in their bedroom or outside. Anywhere the parents and the TV are not.
He illustrates the last point by sharing the experience of friends whose children spent the entire day in school and aftercare while the parents worked. Rather than be consumed with entertaining the children once they arrived home they made a rule that the kids must give the parents space for at least thirty minutes.
Although initially uncomfortable with the rule, the kids eventually found things to entertain themselves – without a TV – and learned to enjoy even longer periods of time discovering constructive ways to occupy themselves.
And in doing so they lost the need to constantly be surrounded by people. They were no longer addicted to attention.
Children don’t usually accept such rules gladly, without hesitation or hiccups, but if parents are gently but consistently firm everyone will win in the end.
Raising children is not hard but it does require:
- A good strategy.
- A calm but firm approach.
- A realistic perspective – children are resilient. They won’t be damaged by your sincere but mistaken efforts to mold their lives.
- Patience. They become adults only over time.
- Persistence. If at first you don’t succeed…
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