Find out why modern parenting experts have been so wrong, and what we as a nation can do to correct the problem.
Our leaders are corrupt. Our culture is depraved; and our parents are struggling. How did we get in this mess? Why do we have so many people who have no compunction about lying, stealing, and cheating? I believe it’s partially a result of bad parenting advice.
For the past 70 plus years, Americans have looked to the “experts” for advice about raising their children. And I think most of us have witnessed by now, experts are wrong … a lot.
I first realized experts were full of nonsense as a teacher. I was constantly attending conferences led by “experts” who had the latest, science-based data to improve learning. More often than not, my common sense told me their new teaching idea was nonsensical. More often than not, I was proven correct.
Some of my favorite examples of educational debacles are Open Classrooms and Whole Language. Each concept was touted by the “experts” as scientific and based on research. Each one was a disaster. Open classrooms were popular in the 1970s, and were schools with no walls, supposedly to encourage group learning with teachers as facilitators. It was, as you can imagine, not a good idea. It was noisy, distracting, and both the students and the teachers hated it. So after spending millions of dollars tearing down walls in schools, a few years later, we had to spend millions of dollars constructing new walls. Brilliant!
We also had the ill-fated Whole Language of the 1980s and ‘90s. Whole Language was a method of teaching reading with the premise that learning to read came naturally to children, just like learning to speak. Again, we spent millions of dollars implementing Whole Language; but shockingly enough, it was an utter failure!
I’ve gone to conferences where “experts” told teachers not to have students memorize math facts or sing the alphabet song. Oh, and how they mocked phonics. What foolishness!
I also learned that there was a lot of lying going on in educational research. One year in the school where I was teaching, one of our administrators was conducting a research study for her doctorate. Our staff had to implement a positive discipline program that used no consequences. Instead, we were to resolve any disciplinary problems with daily class meetings. We were encouraged to talk it out instead of using any type of consequence. It was a fiasco. One teacher actually quit the week of Halloween because her students were so out of control. Yet, our administrator wrote her research study as a huge success. Nothing could have been further from the truth.
And then I became a parent. I had no idea the idiocy extended to parenting books, but yikes—what nonsense!
I read my first parenting book 28 years ago, when I became pregnant with my twins. I was so excited about being a mother, I read every best-selling parenting book I could—and I was shocked. I was appalled at what I felt was really bad advice. It was permissive, indulgent, and lacked instilling virtues. I remember thinking, “Wow. If parents follow this advice, we’re going to have a population of selfish, irresponsible, disrespectful people who have no self-control. (Did I nail it or what?)
For instance, one of the pearls of wisdom I read was to allow your children to vent their anger. For if you don’t let your children vent their anger, where will their anger go? (I remember thinking, it will go toward developing their self-control, that’s where!)
Another best-selling parenting book told parents to go ahead and let their children cuss. Afterall, it’s only words. Save your battles for the big stuff, like drugs and alcohol. They also said that if you ever thought about spanking your child to call the child abuse hotline immediately.
There was little to nothing in these secular parenting books about training your children to be honest, kind, and unselfish. There was no emphasis on teaching your children to be thankful, respectful, and having a good work ethic. In fact, their advice was in direct opposition to the development of the most important virtue of all—self-control.
But the people writing these books were “experts.” They were pediatricians, child psychologists, and university elites. Much of their advice was backed by research too. Could experts be wrong? Well, let’s look at the long-term results of some popular parenting advice.
One of the most influential parenting experts of all time was Dr. Benjamin Spock. His 1946 book, Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care, sold over 50 million copies, and started the permissive parenting movement. Among other things, Dr. Spock advocated making the home child centered, instead of parent centered. He encouraged a more democratic approach to parenting, where children and parents had an equal say. Instead of training children to have respect and self-control, Spock advocated freedom of expression and less restrictions.
What were the outcomes? Well, many politicians and church leaders blamed Dr. Spock’s advice for raising the rebellious hippie generation of the 1960s. Former Vice-President Spiro Agnew called hippies "the work of Spock". Former Chicago Mayor Richard Daley blamed the ills of Chicago on Spock’s "corrupting influence".
Critics also blamed Dr. Spock for undermining parental authority and producing an entire generation of disrespectful and disobedient children. In 1968, Minister Norman Vincent Peale said that the U.S. was paying the price of two generations that followed the Dr. Spock baby plan of instant gratification of needs.
Dr. Spock eventually revised his book several times because he realized much of his advice didn’t actually turn out well. Dr. Spock later ran for president as the candidate for the socialist People’s Party in 1972.
There’s also the “expert” advice about building children’s self esteem. For the past 40 years, parents have been told by the experts that their most important responsibility was to build their children's self-esteem. Parents were advised not to criticize their children, but instead to constantly praise them, and tell them how very special they were. This is the movement that gave rise to the ‘Everyone Gets a Trophy’ trend, where no one ever loses.
That original praise generation has now grown up; and the results are not good. Wall Street Journal reporter Jeffrey Zaslow wrote that researchers have found that many young adults who were overpraised as children have turned into narcissistic praise-junkies; and they can’t handle criticism. They are so addicted to praise and compliments that they become insecure and anxious if they don’t get it.
Zaslow also reported that employers in the workplace are experiencing the same phenomenon. Bosses are finding that young workers need constant positive feedback, and have a very difficult time handling constructive criticism.
You can also see the results of the self-esteem movement in college students called “snowflakes”. These young adults were raised to rarely receive criticism, but instead they were showered with constant praise. The results? These “snowflakes” can’t handle any type of reproach or opinions that differ from their own. They demand a “safe space” from anything that upsets them. They have been raised to receive only love, praise, and instant gratification, but they are totally ill-equipped to handle the frustrations that come in real life.
America needs to wake up to the fact that our modern parenting experts have failed us. The results of their expert advice have not produced a generation of happy, well-adjusted, responsible adults. In fact, the opposite is true. Depression, anxiety, and hate is far too common in our young people.
Before we continue with their failed methods, we need to stop and contemplate why their advice doesn’t result in quality citizens. In my opinion, it’s because they fail to understand basic human nature.
Prior to Dr. Spock’s book, it was generally accepted that children were not born naturally good, and morals and virtues needed to be diligently taught. This belief was derived from reading the Bible. The Bible teaches that children are born with a natural inclination toward selfish, wrong behavior. Therefore, parents are instructed to train goodness and morality into their children.
But as the permissive parenting trend took hold in the mid-20th century, parenting experts took the opposite view. They asserted that children were born naturally good, or at worst, a blank slate. Therefore, there was no need for moral instruction. They believed that bad behavior was learned; therefore they advised parents not to punish their children, as this would teach them negative behaviors.
Which version of human nature is correct? Are children naturally good, blank slate, or naturally bad? It’s an important question, because what you believe about human nature will determine how you parent.
If you believe that children are naturally good, your goal will probably be to make sure your kids are happy and healthy, and have everything they need. But, if you believe the biblical view of human nature, that children are not naturally good, your goal will be to diligently instill goodness and virtues into your children.
Is there any evidence to support this biblical theory that man is innately corrupt? An incredible amount! One only has to look at history to support this statement. History is detailed with one war after another. Even today in our "civilized era", there are dozens of wars going on in the world at any given time, with unspeakable cruelty. The 20th century alone will go down as one the bloodiest of all time with countless wars that have killed tens of millions.
Not only is there historical evidence of man's depraved nature, it's just obvious that children are not born morally good. From the beginning, infants are totally selfish and egocentric. You don't have to teach children how to take away another child’s toy, hit, lie, or throw a tantrum when they don't get their way. That all comes very natural to them. What doesn't come naturally is how to share, be kind, and be unselfish. This comes after much parental training.
But, you may argue, most people are basically good. People are good when they've been trained to be good. Left on their own, they have selfish, immoral tendencies.
Founding Father John Adams said, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”
If we want to continue living under a Constitutional government, we must produce a population of honest, moral, responsible citizens. We must stop following the failed advice of our current politically-correct parenting “experts”. Instead, we need to focus on building character and instilling virtues in our children.
We need to diligently train our children to be kind and respectful. We need to require them to do chores, and learn a good work ethic. We need to limit their screen time, and make them learn how to play and entertain themselves. We need to take away their phones, and encourage them to read a quality book. We need to have family meals with conversation that reinforces good morals and virtues. We need to be good examples, and model integrity. And we need to stop treating our children like little snowflakes, and lovingly enforce some tough love.
To learn how to train up your child in the way he should go, get the new Christian Parenting with Focus Video Course. Perfect for churches or small groups. Visit SHOP | Parenting with Focus