0227 Shirley Caudill

Shirley Caudill

Seldom do I, an only child, write a column about children that I don’t mention family psychologist, Dr. John Rosemond, who is also a syndicated columnist and an only child. I am fascinated by the fact that his views parallel my own on child rearing beliefs. Especially since he is a baby boomer and I am old enough to be his mother.

He and I agree that many of today’s children are not nearly as well-behaved as children who grew up under the “old school’s” much demonized child rearing methods and traditions.

And, although today’s children are the least spanked, they seem to be the most violent, the rudest, most ill-behaved children in history. While today’s parents will agree that yesterday’s children were better behaved, they contend that they are more psychologically damaged. Not, in my opinion — or Dr. Rosemond’s.

Today’s parents are so consumed with the “self-esteem” hype, they tend to forget other aspects of child rearing. He says it is not necessary for a child to feel delightfully good about themselves each and every minute — to the detriment of good behavior.

Only children often receive too much of their parents’ undivided attention. Not me; not he.

Rosemond says that children should not receive all of that attention after they are three years old. He clearly states that the mistakes of the parents of the 60s and 70s gave children mixed messages leaving them confused about their own boundaries. He and I contend that all children need a clear set of consistent rules.

Today’s parents did not necessarily raise a generation of happier children. Nor are they better satisfied with life. Yesterday’s children were much happier and better satisfied with life under the strict discipline of their parents who often taught lessons with a little keen switch.

When today’s children resort to violence and bullying, back talk and general misbehavior, we must genuinely feel sorry for the child who was misguided into believing the whole world revolves around them and only them.

It is a cry for help for more consistent rules and sincere discipline. Rosemond believes as I do that excessive attention is unhealthy for the parent and the child. The child will begin to make unreasonable demands and act starved for attention. They often throw tantrums and become excessively disobedient.

Too much attention stifles a child’s emotional growth. Self-centered children lose self-respect and become disrespectful of adults and become very disruptive.

Although I was an only child, my mother was a working woman during WWll (later becoming a latchkey child) and I stayed with my grandmother who also babysat several cousins. We did not have a chance to become self-centered or disruptive. Granny kept us busy learning a work ethic and she disciplined us with a little keen switch that did not bruise the flesh but nettled the legs enough to make us pay attention.

As an only child, though, I knew nothing about sibling rivalry and heated debate. Sometimes I believe that those who have several brothers and sisters learn to disagree just for the sake of being disagreeable. It is my pet peeve! My husband is one of 16.

Rosemond and I believe if you spare the switch you spoil the child and set them up for a lifetime of misery. Today’s parents probably say we march to a different drummer.

Shirley Caudill of London is a former newspaper editor/publisher and longtime freelance columnist. She is a Nashville native who has lived in Kentucky 40 years. She has six children, 11 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren and is married to a retired Army First Sergeant. She can be reached at gunnstar4912@gmail.com

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