The Collapse of Parenting

If you start to think your own kids are terribly bratty and poorly behaved (which all kids are at times) and that you’re doing a terrible job as a parent (which all good parents sometimes think), just look at examples of how much of society at large is doing things and you’ll feel much better (unless, of course, this IS how you’re parenting and then, well, you’re in trouble).

An example from an interview with Dr. Leonard Sax :

The Associated Press: What exactly do you mean by a collapse of parenting?

Sax: I wrote about an office visit with a 10-year-old boy who is sitting and playing a game on his mobile phone, ignoring me and his mom as I’m talking with his mom about his stomachache. And his mom is describing his stomachache and the boy says, ‘Shut up, mom, you don’t know what you’re talking about.’ And he laughs.

That would have been very unusual in 1990 or 2000. It is now common: children, girls and boys, being disrespectful to parents, being disrespectful to one another, being disrespectful to themselves, verbally and otherwise. The mother did nothing, just looked a little embarrassed. The culture has changed in a profound way in a short period of time in ways that have really harmed kids.

It’s much worse today of course, but I’d say that this sort of thing was getting under way even in the 90s.  I certainly saw examples of this kind of disrespect even back then.

Dr. Sax isn’t the first to conclude that today’s parenting styles/techniques are really harming kids and not helping them grow up to be happy or successful (by any measure). Here’s some of what he thinks parent’s should be doing instead:

AP: What types of things can parents do to help a child or teen become a fulfilled adult?

Sax: The first thing is to teach humility, which is now the most un-American of virtues. When I meet with kids I ask them what they think it is and they literally have no idea. I’ve done that from third grade through 12th grade. The high school kids are more clueless than the third-graders.

They have been indoctrinated in their own awesomeness with no understanding of how this culture of bloated self-esteem leads to resentment. I see it. I see the girl who was told how amazing she was who is now resentful at age 25 because she’s working in a cubicle for a low wage and she’s written two novels and she can’t get an agent.

The second thing is to enjoy the time with your child. Don’t multitask. Get outdoors with your child.

The last thing: Teach the meaning of life. It cannot be just about getting a good job. It’s not just about achievement. It’s about who you are as a human being. You must have an answer.

That first line about humility is spot on.  And it really could be said to be true of virtue in general.  No one cares to teach virtues.  It’s all about me, me, me instead.  It’s not new knowledge that leading a fully self-centered life isn’t going to lead to true or lasting happiness or fulfillment.  How sad that everyone seems to have forgotten that.

Dr. Sax’s recent book looks interesting:

This book cover image released by Basic Books shows, "The Collapse of Parenting: How We Hurt Our Kids When We Treat Them Like Grown-Ups," by Leonard Sax. Sax, a family physician and psychologist, argues that American families are facing a crisis of authority, where the kids are in charge, out of shape emotionally and physically and suffering because of it. He calls for a reordering of family life in response.

 

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Is old film the answer to forming our children’s imaginations?

Anthony Esolen thinks so.  Our children need not just our example or direct teaching to form their imagination and moral sense, but good art, including film.  If it isn’t explicitly religious or moralizing, all the better.

Why the Miley Cyrus generation needs the old movies…urgently:

For I find this black mark impinge the man,
   
That he believes in just the vile of life.
   
Low instinct, base pretension, are these truth?
                   
– Robert Browning, from The Ring and the Book

…we should welcome our allies wherever we may find them, particularly among the creators of films that celebrate marriage and innocent life, piety and faithfulness, before such things became controversial. The unconscious witness of people who are not party to our current confusion can be most powerful indeed. A film like Penny Serenade, about a marriage that hangs by a thread, between a good man who is a failure at work and a good woman who cannot bear children, has more to say to us about not tearing asunder what God has joined together, than any number of lectures in theology…

Here someone will object that the people who made those films were often not at all pious. Some of them did things that, if you knew about them, would make it almost impossible for you ever again to take any pleasure in their work. What then separates them from the people who make films now? Aren’t they all sinners like the rest of us? And cannot bad people make great art?

Yes and no. There are sinners who feel the pain of their sin because they acknowledge how far they fall short of the glory of God. That might have described the hard-drinking, fist-throwing Catholic director, John Ford; and the womanizing Gary Cooper, who became a Catholic shortly before he died, partly because of the example of Ford. But then there are sinners who are numb to their sin, because they no longer acknowledge the glory of God. They are like the wicked man whom Robert Browning’s pope describes in the quote above. They believe “in just the vile of life.” For them, all piety is sanctimony, all patriotism is bigotry, all chastity is prudishness, all innocence is naïveté, all tradition is hide-bound, all judgment is arbitrary, and all love is but selfishness with sugar.

Such people cannot make great art. They can be a part of great works of art only to the extent that they are borne up by the faith of better people around them. They cannot otherwise raise themselves out of the mud…

We wish not only to tell our children what the truth is, but to show it to them. This we can do by the example of our lives, but because children so often feel the need to place some distance between themselves and their parents, if only to win their separate identities, we must turn to others to confirm that truth. We can do much on our own to form their memories. We can do little on our own to form their imaginations. That is what good art and great art are for.

We cannot hand over their imaginative catechesis to people who, en masse, reject or despise our trust in God and in the coherence and beauty of the nature which God has created and sustains. That is not because they are bad people. As people they may be much better than their principles. It is because their principles are bad; the well is bad from the source…

And since, for most people, imagination leads and reason follows, we are fooling ourselves if we think we can ignore it. The forming of the imagination is not a part of a Christian education. It is a Christian education.

That does not mean that we turn to specifically religious art. Again, a religious vision of the world often strikes home more powerfully when it is like the fresh air, or like health…

But I hear an objection: “Our children cannot watch the old movies!” Their attention wanders if they are not regularly needled and sparked by noise, a visual and aural and neural overload, an induced Saint Vitus’ dance. If that is true, their imaginations need more than formation. They need healing.

When everyone is a racist, then no one will be

Gotta start with those kids early!  A writer over at the Carlos Slim’s blog wonders: Are We Raising Racists?

The consequences are serious. When we don’t talk honestly with white children about racism, they become more likely to disbelieve or discount their peers when they report experiencing racism. “But we’re all equal” becomes a rote response that actually blocks white children from recognizing or taking seriously racism when they see it or hear about it. This is at best.

I note that only white children need to be spoken to about racism.  Minorities are never racist, children, remember that.

At worst, the consequences are akin to what happens when you breathe in polluted air. Not realizing the pollution is there doesn’t mean it doesn’t affect you. White children are exposed to racism daily. If we parents don’t point it out, show how it works and teach why it is false, over time our children are more likely to accept racist messages at face value. When they see racial inequality — when the only doctors or teachers they see are white, or fewer kids in accelerated classes are black, for example — they won’t blame racism. Instead, they’ll blame people of color for somehow falling short.

Minorities also never fall short–which is why we’ve had to scrap literacy tests for teachers in order to get more minority teachers.

We have better models. Parents of black and Latino children have long made thoughtful choices about when and how to engage in difficult and nuanced discussions about difference. Studies show that such parents are two to five times more likely than whites to teach their children explicitly about race from very young ages to counter negative social messages and build a strong sense of identity.

Which group is more like to have a chip on their shoulder about race?  Might it possibly be because yo mama told you that pinky’s out to get you and pointed at every possible instance and example of this?

After telling her daughter that George Washington was a horrible person, the writer concludes:

It’s always risky to tell other people how to raise their children, and I don’t want to imply that I’m some kind of perfect parent. On top of that, our children and families are all different and there are many distinct ways to have conversations about race with our children. But however we talk about it, we need to talk about racism now more than ever.

Liberals have this bizarre black and white sort of thinking.  We can’t say that George Washington as a good person because he owned slaves and therefore was a bad person. We can’t tell our children that “we’re all equal” because if we’re equal then we must be equal in every way possible thus nothing bad happens to other people that doesn’t happen to us.  Sorry, but George Washington, just like every person ever, had good and bad qualities.  Also he freed all his slaves.  (I  know, I know, it was after his death so he didn’t tear his new nation apart and start the Civil War early.  What a jerk.)  I can be equal to you, and I can also have problems that you don’t have.  Are you ignoring my Nixon-only problem, you vile bigot?

My parents raised me to be a not-racist.  They failed because the culture around me kept saying over and over “you’re a white person; white people are racist; why aren’t you noticing how racist you are, you racist?”  When you try to shove something down someone’s throat, the gag reflex kicks in.  The only thing that’s creating more racists, is YOU who won’t shut up about racism.

 

A Day Without [Feminist] Women

One is tempted to say “good riddance.”  The only impact they’re likely to make unfortunately is to hurt other women who are forced to take the day off to watch their kids who can’t go to school because so many teachers took off that schools had to be closed. Many of these women will be of lower incomes who cannot afford to miss a day of work or pay for extra childcare.  It’s also possible that some of the women who strike today will lose their jobs — tomorrow may be a repeat DayWithoutJobs (as it was for those immigrants who decided to take the day off without permission).  I’ve seen several comments saying this could actually help businesses weed out the crazies – ‘ah, they’ve identified themselves; that makes it easy to pick who’ll be in this next lay-off!’

According to protest spokeswoman Cassady Findlay:

the action is aimed at highlighting the effect of women on the country’s socio-economic system and would demonstrate how the paid and unpaid work of women keeps households, communities and economies running.

“We provide all this value and keep the system going, and receive unequal benefits from it,” Findlay said.

Findlay said it is important for white women to be in solidarity with minority women… “It’s when women of all backgrounds strike and stand together that we’re really going to see the impact.”

Unlike the Women’s March, Wednesday’s protest focuses on the absence of women, who are being steered to local rallies and community groups and away from work or shopping in stores or online. Organizers also are asking women to wear red to signify love and sacrifice.

What exactly do they mean by “unpaid work”? Homemakers and stay-at-home moms?  So you’re going to not bother to feed your children today?  Let the kids run in the street so you can lie on the couch snacking and binge-watching Netflix?  Let your home become a pigsty?  This proves what exactly?  How is this supporting any cause?

Most families do appreciate the women who help to run things and take care of them.  Ask most men and they’ll express gratitude for what their wives do (and insist they’re very happy they don’t have to do those things!).  Sure, sometimes women are taken for granted in domestic settings, but how often does anyone, female or male, get praised to high heaven for the work they are expected to do for their jobs?  The unequal benefits women supposedly receive for their work is a feminist propaganda point that has been disproved so many times it’s like beating a dead horse at this point.  Feminist Christina Hoff Sommers goes over the facts again here.

How about about wearing red to signify love and sacrifice?  Sounds nice doesn’t it?  But how does spitefully refusing to do your jobs (whatever they may be) and ignoring your responsibilities prove your worth  or demonstrate love and sacrifice?  Selfish whining, self-importance, and grown-up (sort of) versions of temper tantrums sound like the opposite of love and sacrifice to me.

Despite platitudes about solidarity among women, let’s not forget that women of all backgrounds aren’t actually welcome in this protest.

It’s being billed as “A Day Without a Woman,” but apparently only pro-union, pro-choice, anti-Israel women who can afford to skip work need apply… Like the Women’s March, however, the event is embedded with political messages that many women may find objectionable.

The Day Without a Woman manifesto includes strong support for unions, a “living wage,” “fair pay” and “solidarity with the sex workers’ rights movement,” without explaining what those policies entail.

One of the group’s premier partners is Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider, which effectively shuts out pro-life women, said Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life of America.

“Does Planned Parenthood, a main sponsor of the Women’s March, approve the closing of schools and putting unnecessary burdens on women, especially working mothers who rely on a regular school schedule?” said Ms. Hawkins. “Are they OK with children from low-income families who will go hungry on Wednesday? Women’s empowerment shouldn’t rely on putting other women and children in precarious situations just to make a point.”

Aside from the slew of parents complaining about school closures, there have been plenty of other criticisms.  One writer claims that ‘A Day Without a Woman’ is a strike for privileged protesters:

Make no mistake, March 8 will mostly be a day without women who can afford to skip work, shuffle childcare and household duties to someone else, and shop at stores that are likely to open at 10 and close at 5. As for wearing red, what is the dress code, exactly? Are you supposed to wear your pink pussy hats, too?

***

A Day Without a Woman seems especially poised for unquantifiable results, given the diffuse nature of its platform.

 Any male who complains about having to pick up the slack left by striking/boycotting women can count on plenty of eye-rolling invocations of the popular refrain “I Drink Male Tears.”

Meanwhile, for the millions of women who have no choice but to show up and meet their responsibilities on March 8 (and every day), it will be business as usual.

Which, when you stop to think about it, is kind of the point, isn’t it? At least it should be. We are nearly half the labor force now. We are just as important in the workplace and to our families’ fiscal welfare as men. All things being equal (which is what we’re after, right?), we are too essential to play hooky.

That’s why the idea that women should take a day off en masse to make a political point is both self-defeating and vaguely insulting. It’s meant to highlight how crucial we are, but its very premise also suggest the opposite: Women are expendable. A Day Without a Woman plays into the idea that we entered the workforce not to support ourselves and our families but to combat boredom or to boost our self-esteem. For all but a very few affluent women, that’s never been the case.

Demonstrating yet again that they don’t actually care about real women, their children or their families, privileged feminists Strike and March and Protest to end imaginary wrongs. They don’t even have concrete objectives or policy suggestions to end these supposed injustices, much less notice or care about the true injustices in the world today.

Worst Article for Expectant Moms

I recently saw this article, Mom’s Message About Her Baby’s Death: “If I Had Given Him Just 1 Bottle, He’d Still Be Alive, posted with the recommendation to share it with all new and expectant parents.  That has got to be the absolutely worst advice ever.  The article is of questionable veracity – there is something very fishy about it.  The link is titled “baby dies from cluster breastfeeding” and claims that this couple, “Jillian and her husband thought that they were doing everything in their power to prepare themselves. ‘We took all of the classes. Bought and read all of the books. We were ready! Or so we thought'” and yet somehow their baby dies at 10 days old:

After getting home, Landon fell asleep while cluster feeding and became unresponsive with no pulse, and turned blue. After 15 days on life support, the newborn passed away. “The best advice I was given by one of his NICU doctors while he was on life support is ‘Sure breast is best, but follow with the bottle,'” she wrote. “This way you know your baby has eaten enough. If only I could go back in time.”

Dr. Christie del Castillo-Hegyi, an emergency physician with a background in newborn brain injury research at Brown University, explained how Landon died as a result of dehydration, which was followed by cardiac arrest caused by brain injury:

“Constant, unsatisfied nursing and inconsolable crying are two of the signs of newborn starvation that lead to brain-threatening complications. If a child is receiving a fraction of their caloric requirement through early exclusive breastfeeding, they can experience severe hunger and thirst, which is why they will cry inconsolably and breastfeed continuously when it is the only source of calories and fluid they are offered. If a mother’s colostrum does not meet the child’s caloric requirement, they will breastfeed for hours a day in an attempt to relieve their hunger. A child who is “cluster-feeding” may actually burn more calories breastfeeding than they receive in return, which can result in fasting conditions and accelerated weight loss.”

Five years later, his mom is still dealing with endless guilt and questions what her life be now if she had just known to give him a bottle.

So here’s my take as someone who spent years keeping up-to-date on pregnancy/birth/breastfeeding best evidence-based practices and sharing them with expectant and new moms:

a) If the parents had known to watch wet and dirty diapers, there is no way this baby could have died of dehydration.  If there is enough coming out, then there is enough going in. If the parents were at all educated about newborns and breastfeeding, they would have known this. Unless there is some other rare or unusual medical issue going on with the baby that isn’t addressed in the article (if indeed anyone even bothered to figure it out).  I’m not sure how this can be seen as anything other than tragic parental ignorance or some very strange underlying medical issue.  Or there’s a lot more to the story than is being reported.

b) Sounds like this could be a problem of medical neglect/incompetence, because they should have made sure the baby was getting enough nourishment/liquids.  Hospitals normally keep track of these things when mom and baby are there after delivery and are usually prompt in pushing bottles if they suspect baby’s not getting enough.  Where were her release instructions telling her what to watch for (they typically include signs of dehydration) and how to tell if the baby was getting enough?  Where was her follow-up visit with a pediatrician after baby was discharged from the hospital?  Why wasn’t anyone weighing this baby to see if weight loss stopped at 10% and started to pick back up?  Why wasn’t there a lactation consultant telling her to pump if it seemed she wasn’t producing enough or if the baby wasn’t getting enough?

c) The advice given by the NICU Doctor,”sure breast is best, but follow with the bottle,” is terrible advice for normal situations.  For a normal mother/baby pair this advice may well spell the early and unnecessary end of breastfeeding.  It is possible that this advice was appropriate to this particular mother, but her situation was clearly not normal.  Sifting the normal situations from the abnormal ones is why people include medical professionals in the process of birth and breastfeeding at all.  Otherwise, if all situations were normal, they would be entirely unnecessary.  The quoted emergency doctor’s statements are also problematic to be sharing with expectant parents.  What she says might have been true in this situation, but just isn’t good advice for most parents.  Whether a baby is crying “too much” is really subjective.  Some babies come out screaming and don’t stop for years (only a slight exaggeration) even though there is nothing physically wrong with them.  This is why many midwives and doctors tell new moms to call/visit if they are worried, if they think something might be wrong.  It doesn’t hurt to check, though most of the time nothing will be wrong.  Also cluster feeding and newborns nursing “constantly” can also be completely normal.  When a baby is born he has a stomach the size of a marble.  It doesn’t take much to fill it up, and it needs to be filled pretty frequently.  Breastfeeding for “hours a day” is normal for a newborn.  Those are well-established facts.

This mother’s guilt, and the likely malpractice of her care providers, may make it attractive to blame breastfeeding for her baby’s death rather than looking at what the real reasons might be.  Breastfeeding doesn’t kill babies; it sustains them.  We’re mammals; how else would the human race have continued to exist for thousands of years before the invention of man-made substitutes?

Sharing inaccurate and fear-mongering articles with expectant mothers, especially first-time moms, will only freak them out and possibly cause them to make fear-based decisions, rather than evidence-based ones for their babies’ care and feeding.  Spreading this around doesn’t do anyone any favors.  Including these bereaved parents.

Causes for the Entitlement Epidemic

Are today’s children over-indulged and over-protected?  Does this at least in part explain what’s wrong with today’s overly-entitled young adults?  And why they need “safe spaces” and “trigger warnings?”

Vitamin N makes a lot of sense.  There’s social science to back this up and I think many people have seen it first hand too.

Sticks and Stones – I think there’s a need for balance on this one.  Some protection and helping kids deal with the cruelty of others is needed.  You can’t just abandon them to their own devices; they are kids after all with a lot of maturing to do.  I’m wondering what other causes there may be for some people growing up a lot tougher and more resilient than others.