Loving parents, Unhappy Children

Everyone that knows me knows that I believe in fair but firm parenting. I do not believe in permissive parenting with the child is allowed an almost limitless number of options, and is treated as an adult in the house, prior to earning that ability or earning the respect

Parenting perils

Parenting perils

accorded to somebody who has gone through life’s ups and downs and come out the other side a better person for it.

Not to say I am not loving, I am, but I have boundaries and rules, and life lessons, and those are part of my love.

I recently read a New York Times article online, and the author of the article, Lisa Belkin, quotes  a therapist in training called Lori Gottlieb.  In Ms. Gottliebs years of research, the conclusion she came to, was the conclusion that I talk about all the time. I have to admit to it being a hobby horse of mine.

That permissive parenting ends up with unhappy adults. That’s children without boundaries, or children who have never learnt disappointment, or learnt to lose (graciously  or not), children who are not told to do things and are offered options that suit them all the time, are unable to cope in the real world without the protection of their parents.

She theorises that: “We would be doing them more good by allowing them to be UN-happy a little more often, she writes, describing what Dan Kindlon, a child psychologist and Harvard lecturer, calls “psychological immunity”:”

“It’s like the way our body’s immune system develops,” he explained. “You have to be exposed to pathogens, or your body won’t know how to respond to an attack. Kids also need exposure to discomfort, failure and struggle.   ……  By the time they’re teenagers, they have no experience with hardship. Civilization is about adapting to less than perfect situations, yet parents often have this instantaneous reaction to unpleasantness, which is ‘I can fix this.’”

In other words, Ms. Gottlieb concludes, “Could it be that by protecting our kids from unhappiness as children, we’re depriving them of happiness as adults?”


In other words, by not offering our children or teenagers the ability to be disappointed in much smaller ways , we set them up for a far greater disappointment in situations we cannot control in later life.

By promising to take your child to the movies today, and for some reason due to life circumstances being unable to do that, and seeing your childs disappointment, and watching them learn how to handle it themselves without your aid, we are teaching our children to be resilient against disappointments in the future.

How many times have you been offered or  promised that raise “at the end of the year” that has never materialised?

How many times have you not received the promotion ‘everybody’ thought you should get?

How many times have you been for a job interview that you thought you were a shoo-in for, only to receive no callback phone call or offer of employment?

These are all disappointment is that adults deal with on a daily basis.

Many advertising executives have heard “if we get the accounts you can manage it” only to see the account being given to some other executive who had pushed harder or  was the ‘friend of a friend’. That is no different to you being promised a space on the team at school, only to find out that somebody else had been put in whilst you were at a doctor’s appointment. In a real job situation your parent wouldn’t march up to the headmaster and demand that your place was reinstated.  You would simply have to work harder in order to receive the next account.

That’s life.

So why do you think that protecting our children to such a large extent whilst in school and in  life, would be of benefit to them?  When we go to argue with the master about the team a child should be in, or a  position our child should have and our child gets a team or position as a result of somebody else leveraging them into that position, how does that benefit our children in a work environment?

Do you intend to go and argue with her boss when she doesn’t get to the promotion or the business trip that she thinks she should get?

And if you think that idea is truly ridiculous, what should not be ridiculous in a school environment as well?  My parents never got involved in any of my school work or school life, and all it taught me was to be resilient and to fight or work harder the next time I wanted something special.

I never waited for anybody to give me anything I went out and got myself. That’s what I want to teach my children to do.

My parents promised me bicycles I never got, (I saved up to buy my own) and holidays I never went on ( I got over it, and went as an adult), and presents that never came.

So what? Am I any worse off? No, that bicycle I had to save up helped me learn how to save for a car later.  An the first real family holiday we went on was a horrible time.  The presents? Well, I make my own money and buy them myself, or my wonderful man buys me wonderful presents that I love instead. Much better!

So, in the long run I’m far better off.  I deal with disappointment well, I get up and carry on, and I don’t offer my kids everything on a platter.  Crikey, my son had to wait 3 days before I took him into town to trade in games, and then couldn’t buy the second game cos he didn’t have enough money!!!

He was terribly disappointed, but learnt a far more valuable lesson than the parent that takes their kid in that same day, and then lend them the extra money to buy the second game ( pay back on the never never) anyway. What do you learn from that?

a) Someone will rescue you

b)You are entitled to what ever you want even if you havent enough to buy it

c)There are no consequeces to any actions

Welcome to the London riots people!  See the society we are bringing up?

Permissive parenting will be the death of society. So will parenting by abdication. Mark my words.  I hope the government starts making parents responsible for all their kids misdoings. That should help.

And in closing, a comment from the New York Times:

“If scientists have learned anything on the subject, it’s that social connections are the foundation for happiness, health and success in life.  When kids build friendships through play, their social and emotional intelligence flourishes; social skills are a key predictor of success later in life.  What’s more, research clearly links loneliness and isolation with chronic illness and increased mortality rates, not to mention unhappiness.

I’m not suggesting that you should fret about your children’s self-esteem, pump them full of false praise or let them run wild. I don’t do those things, and I don’t advocate permissive parenting. I do advocate happiness and joy as the paths to a meaningful life.”

Hear hear!

Read more here.   Enjoy!

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