Columnist’s advice to command obedience can have problems

As a professional in the field of parenting education and teacher training for the past 40 years — roughly the same amount of time as John Rosemond — I once again must respond to the arrogant psychologist-bashing and parent-shaming diatribes he regularly spews onto the page.

In his Nov. 27 column, he discusses kneeling down to be at a child’s level as “submissive” and (again) misrepresents the democratic parenting style as lacking in any authority resulting in children becoming tyrants. He continually discounts years of research in the fields of mental health, child development and brain science, preferring instead to glorify the “good old days.”

It certainly is true that “obedient” children look great in the short term; they are compliant and do whatever an adult tells them. The long-term message however, is not so pretty. What we are teaching “obedient” children is that they must do whatever someone bigger, stronger or more powerful tells them to, setting them up to lack self-respect, to become followers and people-pleasers, and even worse, putting them at high risk for sexual exploitation and abuse.

We cannot possibly teach children respect if our daily interactions with them are based in disrespect — towering over them, commanding obedience, humiliating and shaming them — which are most often the methods preferred by Rosemond. Contrary to his ill-informed statements, over 60 years of research indicates that Democratic Parenting (called authoritative parenting in the literature) in which children are treated with respect and kindness, while also establishing rules and limits, has the most positive outcomes. Children become caring, compassionate, responsible, self-motivated adults.

Penny Davis


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