Friday, December 11, 2009

Reflections on Parenting, Part 1

After several months of debating to buy and waiting on BFF to finish her reading, I finally got my hands on my much-coveted Parenting by The Book by John Rosemond. Rosemond uses biblical principals to outline how parents have been lead astray and away from the Bible in child rearing. Rosemond explains the change occurred in and around the 1960s when parents stopped listening to “Grandma” and started listening to folks with letters following their names.

Rosemond hits the nail on the head about the frustrations and anxiety parents raising children today are facing. I love it when he describes how parents are confused about everything. “…when to toilet train, how to deal with tantrums, how and when and even where to put their kids o bed…discipline… feed the children… talk to the children...” He’s exactly right. As a parent, I see in young children, teens, and young adults how something about parenting has gone terribly wrong. We are left confused not knowing where to turn but knowing the current way is not doing so hot. And here we are with the “Tower of Parent-Babble” of parenting books to decipher what the right way is to parent. Rosemond lays out some critical issues in parenting that he always goes back to biblical principles.

Due to the Tower of Parent-Babble, there has arisen this horrific focus on “self-esteem.” Even Christian parents believe in guarding our children to protect their self-esteem. Rosemond does a great job of explaining just how self-esteem is a form of idolatry and is extremely harmful to the child. (He goes on to explain a development of self-respect that comes from humility and serving others.) Self-esteem leads into a loss of manners, manipulative behavior, and a disregard for others.

Before reading the book, I had become familiar with the “esteem” issue from various sermons I had listened to. It really made sense that self-esteem was exactly contrary to what scripture teaches. Jesus told us to deny ourselves and to follow Him. (Matthew 16:4) My previous meditations on self-esteem helped to have a good understanding of where he was coming from in the book. Being raised in the world of self-esteem AND having a psychology degree, it’s very hard as a parent and a Christian to do what is right with the child. Already we find ourselves worrying about Lily’s future since she is so passive. We don’t want her to get ran over or have any anxiety issues. Biblically, our thinking is wrong. Lily needs to be humble and slow to speak. Grandma was right when she said is wasn’t polite to show off and we can get too big for our britches. There is nothing I can’t stand more than a kid (mostly teens and pre-teens) that brags on and on. Well, yes there is, the parent who brags right behind him/her. And here I am, praising her all the way for every little milestone. Please, God, help me to be humble to teach them humility. Pride is such a rampant and natural way.

Anyways, back on track. Parents today don’t want to admit their two and three year olds misbehave because they are inherently sinful. Heck, they don’t want to admit their teenagers are inherently sinful. They want to contribute it to development. Instead of meeting the behavior head on, forcing the right behavior, and then teaching the difference between right and wrong, parents are trying to modify behavior (like with a dog) and/or explain the behavior off as something psychological the child is dealing with. If we tell them they are wrong or they've sinned, it might hurt their self-esteem. Christian parents are forgetting about what the Bible teaches about the fall of man. I guess when you have to face that your child is born to sin, you must admit that you too have the fallen nature. This is a hard thing for many folks to grasp.

Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me. Psalm 51:5

Rosemond also goes into how the parents are over-involved in their children’s lives. I completely agree. The best examples of parents being overly involved are when the parents are going to school to defend their kids from being corrected or being bullied. This type of behavior is apparently going on into adulthood with parents going to colleges and working things out for their adult children. And then, the helicopter parent gets REALLY involved and calls for job interviews for the child. Rosemond gives an example in the book of employers having problems with hiring younger adults. The younger adults 1.) Have no respect for authority, 2.) Have a sense of entitlement, and 3.) Have parents calling in due to bad job performance ratings. (These three were taken from different excerpts in the book and are my own interpretation.) This is really hard for me to imagine. I was very independent from the time I turned 16, maybe even before. But hey, I see it in some of the teens I’m around. Parents, especially mothers, are enabling their children by being “too” there for them.

You know, when you think about it. This is what we have all around us. People, adults and children alike, who think the world has something to owe them. There is no respect, responsibility, or resourcefulness. What do you think? Do you think the self-esteem error era has something to do with it?

I have a lot I want to say about this book. (I have a lot to say about a lot of things. Thanks God for blogs!) I really want to get into what Rosemond says about the roles in the family and his take on discipline. So, look for Part 2 and Part 3.


The Girl Next Door Grows Up said...

I don't read any parenting books. I believe that self esteem comes from liking and loving yourself. Being proud of who you are. But completely being humble about it. I hate cocky people.

I teach my daughter that everyone makes mistakes, but they need to learn from them. It makes her stronger and more confident person I think.

Your comment made me LOL by the way! Basically I just don't want to go out and buy new jeans.

Mrs. Wilbur said...

No, I do not think the self-esteem era has anythng to do with it. I think the instant-gratification, technology saturated, "push of a button" era has caused it, along with a distinct lack of parental supervision. Well-meaning parents get so caught up in "providing a better life for their children" that they run out of time to be INVOLVED in the lives of their children.
Nobody with genuine self-esteem is cocky, impolite or disrespectful to others. My children are and will continue to be taught how wonderful they are.

Tracy said...

I think it depends on how self esteem is defined. To truly understand one's right place in the universe is important.

To me that means understanding that each of us in sinful and needs God, understanding that God loves and has a good plan of each of our lives, understanding that God in His goodness has given each person gifts/talents to use for His glory and understanding that life is about following Christ instead of serving self.

These are the things I seek to teach my sons. I can most definitely say that they are much more readily learned when I live them out before them than when I talk about them.

I do see it a problem that our culture teaches goofy stuff like: you need to be true to yourself, you deserve it (whatever the indulgence might be), etc. I pray and seek to teach and show my sons that peace, joy, happiness and fulfillment come through following after Christ.