reappropriate

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Taking the 'It Takes A Village' thing too far

Who can forget the story that broke a few days ago of the five-year-old child being handcuffed and lead away by three armed policemen after the girl began acting out in class? While the image above speaks for itself, what is truly interesting is the events leading up to the girl's arrest. The girl was acting out over a period of half an hour (not several hours as one might suspect given the video's editing) during which time she refused to listen to her teachers and threw things on the ground. When the video was first released, experts on the mainstream media news channels were quick to praise the teachers as doing an excellent job dealing with the child, being careful to keep their tones calm and not making threatening or provoking gestures. However, I would argue that the video is a telling example of exactly how American culture is losing sight of how to handle problem children. Children aren't adults in smaller bodies -- they are just learning the difference between right and wrong, just learning how to obey authority figures and are having fun testing the limits of those around them. Children aren't born with an innate understanding of their actions and their consequences, and have to be educated in things like discipline and good behaviour. We can't treat extremely young children as though they will understand complex logic and reasoning or expect them, by default, understand our roles as parents or teachers who 'should be listened to, to have the attention span to listen to what we have to say, process our directives, and see the benefits of following them. And yet, the teachers in the video, terrified perhaps of lawsuits or falling into the belief that children can be handled like 'young adults', never raise their voices, never speak sharply to the child, and basically never establish themselves as the authority figures they should be. Parents of this generation seem to be terrified of child-rearing -- horrified by the idea that a harsh word could lead to a future of thousands of dollars of therapy bills, suddenly raising your tone of voice is shunned, corporal punishment virtually outlawed, and parents treat their children like they're negotiating an international peace treaty. The teachers in the video don't tell the little girl to stop throwing things, they stand around, holding their hands to their chests and pleading with her to stop. And suddenly, this little girl delightedly finds herself in a power struggle where she has the power to enforce change in her environment or to stop it -- the teachers subscribing to the New Age-y idea that a child who chooses to stop acting out is learning something over-emphasizes that choice without making clear the consequences of acting out, and the child giddily continues to attempt to exert her dominance over the authority figures around her, throwing things despite their pleas and even standing on a table to gain extra height over them. It's as if America, as a culture, spontaneously lost their understanding of parenting over night. Or, more appropriately, suddenly lost their sense of responsibility over their children's behaviour, expecting that someone, anyone else can teach their children to act appropriately, be it teachers, other friends, television, or even the children themselves. I think this is a combination of being afraid of legal retribution for 'mistreating' their children (the criminalization of public acts of corporal punishment, a fear of losing their children through Child Services, etc) and the sudden influx of self-described psychology experts like Dr. Phil who promote this feel-good yet completely impractical form of child-rearing in which everyone is in touch with their feelings and no one is forcing anyone under the age of 15 to act right. Not that I'm all warm and fuzzy about my own childhood, but when I acted out, I knew I was going to get a spanking when I got home, and I was never disappointed. Though this didn't mean I was a model child citizen, I never acted out the same way twice, and I had a healthy respect for my parents as authority figures. Meanwhile, electroman has a funny story about he, M, New York City, the Cheesecake Factory, and four screaming children tripping the waiters as their parents either ignored them or quietly asked them to stop. Here's a tip: saying, "Bobby, Mommy's asking you not to pull that waitresses' pants down, please..." doesn't really establish you as a person to be listened to. And this passing of the buck doesn't stop with teachers; apparently even the government should have more responsibility than parents. Today, Bush signed a bill that gives greater freedom to DVD filtering technology, aimed at parents who don't want to expose their children to nasty, violent, or sexual scenes in major film releases. Think about this: is there any film you can think of in which such technology would be necessary that you would want your four-year-old child seeing the non-violent, non-sexual parts of? Sure, you can take the sex out of Pretty Woman, but if you're that terrified of exposing your child to a naked body, they probably shouldn't be watching a movie about a prostitute anyways. Again, parents are looking for the government to make parenting decisions for them, and censoring out all the things they don't want their children to see, rather than actually involving themselves in their kids' developments and helping them to deal with these issues. Rather than have the birds and the bees talk with their kids, or sitting with them through a potentially troubling DVD, parents would rather turn on the film to keep the kids busy, and take out all the troublesome parts which might actually lead to some healthy parent-child interaction later on. Whatever happened to time when parents actually parented? When did we start turning to specialty diapers to potty-train our kids for us? Or turning to internet-filtering, DVD-filtering, and the vChip to parent our kids rather than spending time with them in front of the TV? When did teachers turn into babysitters, such that parents become so irate at a teacher improperly raising their child that teachers now fear bodily violence during parent-teacher conferences? It's stuff like this that makes me ever more dedicated to the idea of contraception and access to abortions for all. Just because two people have working reproductive organs and have figured out how to make them interlock doesn't mean that they are intellectually armed to be good parents.

9 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't think this is new. I think it's safe to say that people have ALWAYS complained that other people didn't raise their kids properly. Specifically, complaints about "permissive" child-raising go back at least fifty years. It didn't happen overnight. (Also, if I may ask, what do you have against Pull-Ups?)

In any case, I'm extremely uncomfortable with the mention of birth control as a "solution" for the problem of badly-behaved children, especially in a country that quite recently forced sterilization on people it didn't consider "intellectually armed" to parent (and often for blatantly racist reasons, at that). I have read several news articles about this child and I haven't seen any clear evidence that her mother didn't want or plan to have her, or that she is not a good mother. In any case, it's not really relevant; regardless of the circumstances under which she was conceived, the child is here now and she has to be looked after.

The article you linked to suggests that this little girl may well have a disability of some kind. Kids with autism, ADD, developmental disorders, etc. often act out in unpredictable ways; many of them do so despite having incredibly devoted and skilled parents. I wouldn't make too many assumptions right off the bat.

It seems to me that there are at least three issues at work here: the specific incident with the child and the police, the general climate of overindulgent parenting you see around you (although I'd strongly question the assumption that planned children are never overindulged), and birth control/abortion access. I don't think they are necessarily that closely related.

5/01/2005 11:26:00 PM  
Blogger Jenn said...

"In any case, I'm extremely uncomfortable with the mention of birth control as a "solution" for the problem of badly-behaved children, especially in a country that quite recently forced sterilization on people it didn't consider "intellectually armed" to parent (and often for blatantly racist reasons, at that)."

Yes, that would be tongue-in-cheek. However, stigmatizing forms of birth control *does* lead to instances in which families which are ill-equipped to have children nonetheless are societally 'forced' to have them, and end up passing the buck to other members of their family or society (adoption, teen mothers letting their own parents raise their children, etc...) I hardly think I'm advocating enforced sterilization -- and it sounds like a blatant forcing of a race card in which none exists. The connection I am making is that, as a society, parents are taking less and less responsibility for their children -- whether that means looking to others to raise their children for them or turning to birth control to abort children rather than take on the responsibility. At no point did I actually suggest that the child in the video was an unwanted pregnancy.

I'll have to re-read the article, but I have yet to come across any suggestion that the child was doing anything more than being a cranky five-year-old. Nonetheless, this post doesn't suggest that there's any hard connection between unplanned/planned pregnancy and poor parenting -- don't let the last paragraph fool you -- the point of the post is the passing of the parenting buck with the final note being that just because you CAN have children doesn't mean you SHOULD.

5/02/2005 11:32:00 AM  
Blogger Jenn said...

Oh, and speciality potty training diapers are silly. Kids are wearing diapers for far too long -- the potty training process is going to involve a few accidents... but that's part of the process. People have been potty training for generations without needing special diapers.

You dress your kid in underwear and teach them to use a toilet by taking them to a bathroom and sitting them on a toilet every hour or so until they go. Then you praise them... Giving them a diaper allows them to have an accident with little or no consequence -- and they don't really learn.

It's a cop-out easy way for parents to invest less time in potty-training their kids... in other words, to potty train so long as it fits into the parents' schedules.

5/02/2005 11:41:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Yes, that would be tongue-in-cheek. However, stigmatizing forms of birth control *does* lead to instances in which families which are ill-equipped to have children nonetheless are societally 'forced' to have them, and end up passing the buck to other members of their family or society."

Sure. But I hardly think this is the case with all ill-behaved children. The parents who bring their overindulged children to restaurants and then ask them politely not to act out are often, I would bet, quite affluent and well educated (at least enough so to be able to afford and use birth control and abortion services if they so choose). By throwing in birth control at the end of your post you are suggesting that wanted children do not, as a rule, act out, and this very much contradicts my own experience and common sense.

"The connection I am making is that, as a society, parents are taking less and less responsibility for their children -- whether that means looking to others to raise their children for them or turning to birth control to abort children rather than take on the responsibility."

Wait, I'm confused. Using birth control and/or abortion is an abdication of responsibility for one's children now?

I'm not convinced that the situation has drastically changed since the early '80s, and in a society in which two incomes are a necessity for the majority of families, it's understandable that parents have more demands on their time. At any rate, Dr. Spock, not Dr. Phil, is usually blamed for the "epidemic" of overindulged children.

"At no point did I actually suggest that the child in the video was an unwanted pregnancy."

Which is why I find it very confusing that you brought up birth control at all.

"I'll have to re-read the article, but I have yet to come across any suggestion that the child was doing anything more than being a cranky five-year-old."

From the mother's lawyer: "This girl should have been evaluated. She was identified as having problems. This child shouldn't be in the regular class if there was a problem."

I doubt that the lawyer would go so far in advocacy as to lie about whether the child had been "identified as having problems."

"Nonetheless, this post doesn't suggest that there's any hard connection between unplanned/planned pregnancy and poor parenting -- don't let the last paragraph fool you -- the point of the post is the passing of the parenting buck with the final note being that just because you CAN have children doesn't mean you SHOULD."

And I'm saying that the juxtaposition of these claims is meaningful whether you intended it to be or not.

"Oh, and speciality potty training diapers are silly. Kids are wearing diapers for far too long -- the potty training process is going to involve a few accidents... but that's part of the process. People have been potty training for generations without needing special diapers."

People have been cooking for generations without having microwaves; people washed their clothes for generations without having washing machines...I'm not seeing the problem here.

"It's a cop-out easy way for parents to invest less time in potty-training their kids... in other words, to potty train so long as it fits into the parents' schedules."

I don't see what difference it makes, honestly, as long as the kids get toilet trained. At any rate, I hardly think it's a crucial sign of the downfall of American parenting.

5/02/2005 12:21:00 PM  
Blogger Jenn said...

I apologize if you found the inclusion of a single sentence on birth control in this post so distracting that you thought I was advocating forced sterilization, though I thank you for commenting on it. However, having re-read this post, I find none of the connections you suggest I'm making -- just because I make a tongue-in-cheek reference to birth control doesn't mean I'm saying bad parenting is caused by illegal abortions.

"By throwing in birth control at the end of your post you are suggesting that wanted children do not, as a rule, act out, and this very much contradicts my own experience and common sense."

I don't think I make this connection at all. I said "It's stuff like this that makes me ever more dedicated to the idea of contraception and access to abortions for all." -- I'm advocating increased access to contraception which will allow pregnant people the ability to end the pregnancy rather than be irresponsible parents. It's still a waiving of parental responsibility -- but at least you're being responsible about being irresponsible (if that makes any sense) -- rather than actually assuming the responsibility of being a parent by giving birth and then turning around passing the child on to be raised by someone else (whether you give the child up for adoption or in this case, as a culture assuming the child can raise itself without proper disciplining).

Basically, I think you'll see greater responsibility in parenting if, as a culture, Americans realized again the weight of being a good parent and either fully assumed the role and actually dedicate themselves to being good parents or were given the proper access and education on abortion and contraceptives so they can evaluate their own readiness to assume that role -- right now, because of inadequate access to contraception and birth control (through cultural stigmatization) and a general shift in attitudes to more laissez-faire parenting, you get a lot of half-assed parents and hellion children running around.

"I'm not convinced that the situation has drastically changed since the early '80s, and in a society in which two incomes are a necessity for the majority of families, it's understandable that parents have more demands on their time. At any rate, Dr. Spock, not Dr. Phil, is usually blamed for the "epidemic" of overindulged children."

I disagree -- while I'm sure the problem reached as early as the 80's, it was not so widespread as it is now. During my childhood, there wasn't as wide an acceptance of medicating your child when they act out, and it wasn't as taboo to yell or spank your child in public. Kids were still disciplined in public -- and I had never seen a parent ask their child to stop misbehaving until only a few years ago.

And yes, I would probably point to Dr. Spock to talk about parenting effects, but that doesn't make Dr. Phil without blame. Besides which, I said "he sudden influx of self-described psychology experts like Dr. Phil" (emphasis added) I would include Spock in that group, although I think Dr. Phil is more symbolic of today's lovey-dovey feel-good familial attitudes of today than Spock -- I think Dr. Phil is more recognizable to today's youth parenting culture and has had greater influence on modern attitudes towards family life.

"People have been cooking for generations without having microwaves; people washed their clothes for generations without having washing machines...I'm not seeing the problem here."

Call it nostalgia, but I don't see any reason why you should remove the negative consequence of having an accident from children just so you don't have to take them to the restroom as often while you're potty training them. A specialty diaper is still just a diaper -- how're you going to teach a child not to wet their pants if you make it okay for a child to wet their pants?

"At any rate, I hardly think it's a crucial sign of the downfall of American parenting."

It isn't. I think of it as a symptom of the overall problem.

"From the mother's lawyer: "This girl should have been evaluated. She was identified as having problems. This child shouldn't be in the regular class if there was a problem."

I wasn't really talking about this five-year-old other than as another symptom of an overall problem, however this quote I interpreted as not having anything to do with any sort of emotional or mental disability. Having watched the video, the girl was acting as any cranky five-year-old was, and it sounds to me like the lawyer was saying that the girl was upset about something and that the teachers never made an attempt to actually solve that problem.

Not that she had ADD... And I would think it to be naive to say that most five-year-olds (ADD or otherwise) don't throw tantrums like this girl was doing.

5/02/2005 01:00:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I apologize if you found the inclusion of a single sentence on birth control in this post so distracting that you thought I was advocating forced sterilization"

Straw man. I never in any way accused you of advocating that; I said that the mention of birth control as a "solution," tongue-in-cheek or otherwise, made me uncomfortable in the context of a society that HAD forced sterilizations on people in the past.

"I'm advocating increased access to contraception which will allow pregnant people the ability to end the pregnancy rather than be irresponsible parents."

And I'm saying that irresponsible parents will exist regardless of the availability of birth control, and that some children will misbehave even if they have model parents.

"It's still a waiving of parental responsibility -- but at least you're being responsible about being irresponsible (if that makes any sense)"

It doesn't make any sense, particularly in the context of contraception. Is having non-procreative sex just by definition irresponsible? How can you have or abdicate "parental responsibility" for children you never conceived in the first place?

"right now, because of inadequate access to contraception and birth control (through cultural stigmatization) and a general shift in attitudes to more laissez-faire parenting, you get a lot of half-assed parents and hellion children running around."

While we are in agreement that unwanted children are more likely to have problems, I think those problems are more on the order of abuse, poverty, and neglect. I don't think that contraception access or lack thereof is likely to be a factor in creating spoiled children.

I also don't see this purported shift to laissez-faire parenting attitudes. It's assumed these days that children need a lot more guidance and supervision than they were presumed to need in the past - the whole phenomenon of the soccer mom and the growth in extracurricular demands on children's time is a case in point. People who grew up in the fifties, for example, often describe having a lot more physical freedom and unscheduled time, from an earlier age, than people who grew up in later decades.

"Kids were still disciplined in public -- and I had never seen a parent ask their child to stop misbehaving until only a few years ago."

I have seen kids disciplined in public, quite recently at that. I don't think anecdotal evidence is a good basis for sweeping social theories.

"Call it nostalgia, but I don't see any reason why you should remove the negative consequence of having an accident from children just so you don't have to take them to the restroom as often while you're potty training them. A specialty diaper is still just a diaper -- how're you going to teach a child not to wet their pants if you make it okay for a child to wet their pants?"

I think you're making some pretty big assumptions about the way parents and children use Pull-Ups and about the mechanisms of toilet training (I would say the crucial factor is developing the ability to anticipate the need to use the toilet before one has an accident, with the substance out of which one's underpants are made being secondary at best), but I'm going to stop arguing this point because I find it ridiculous to devote this much energy to arguing about diapers. I will note that Pull-Ups have been around since at least the early nineties; my own sibling used them (and, amazingly given what you've said Pull-Ups do to children, hasn't had an accident in nearly fifteen years).

"I wasn't really talking about this five-year-old other than as another symptom of an overall problem"

Yes, and I object to that because I don't think you have enough information to decide what caused her misbehaviour.

"this quote I interpreted as not having anything to do with any sort of emotional or mental disability."

No, the lawyer said she should have been "evaluated" because she had "problems." The use of the word "evaluated" is key; we don't usually "evaluate" children unless we think something is wrong with them.

"Not that she had ADD... And I would think it to be naive to say that most five-year-olds (ADD or otherwise) don't throw tantrums like this girl was doing."

If "most" five-year-olds throw tantrums, then why are you bringing up bad parenting as a cause of tantrum-throwing with specific reference to this situation?

5/02/2005 02:07:00 PM  
Blogger Jenn said...

"Straw man. I never in any way accused you of advocating that; I said that the mention of birth control as a "solution," tongue-in-cheek or otherwise, made me uncomfortable in the context of a society that HAD forced sterilizations on people in the past. "

... except that I never said it was a "solution", hence if there's any straw man in this argument it's that you would find such a connection in the first place. I would argue against forced sterilization too... if anyone were actually making the argument.

"And I'm saying that irresponsible parents will exist regardless of the availability of birth control, and that some children will misbehave even if they have model parents."

I don't disagree with you. In my previous response, I said that access to birth control coupled with a shift in attitudes towards the role of parents will lead to better parenting. Not one or the other alone, nor is that meant to signal an end to all irresponsible parenting -- I think the problem is that you are trying to push my proposals to the extreme and taking things farther than I am advocating. I never said I had the definitive solution to end all irresponsible parenting, however, as I said, there is definite room for improvement which I think is in part linked to better contraceptive access.

"It doesn't make any sense, particularly in the context of contraception. Is having non-procreative sex just by definition irresponsible? How can you have or abdicate "parental responsibility" for children you never conceived in the first place?"

No. The point is that if you find yourself pregnant, parents need to start seeing having a child as a real, life-altering responsibility which means actual dedication to moulding the child they are about to create. They need to recognize that children need more than just a nudge in the right direction, they need to be constantly parented, disciplined, coaxed and encouraged -- it's not an extracurricular and if you leave a kid alone, they won't develop into good people on their own. As I said, you can't expect to be able to treat them like adults in midget bodies.

My sense is that because of the stigmatization of abortion and a general false security about the ease of raising a child (in comparison to how easy it is to conceive a child), parents have children without giving proper thought to exactly how responsible this will mean they will have to be. My point being that until parents actually consider child-rearing to be this kind of responsibility, they have kids and then are ill-equipped mentally to raise them effectively, and therefore seek shortcuts to pass the responsibility to others, be it the government, media-filtering technology or, yes, even time-saving, pants-saving, parenting-saving diapers.

Where contraceptives come in is that I feel it's unfair for me to chastise parents for being irresponsible if we still live in a society in which parents who know they will be irresponsible have little alternative but to have the child. Without adequate options, there isn't an adequate choice -- leading to parents who see their child more as an inconvenient consequence rather than having really chosen to have the child -- at least if a parent chooses to have an abortion, they have accepted the responsibility of being irresponsible, i.e. they have thought about the responsibility involved in having a child and have decided they aren't properly equipped. If you don't give parents that choice, you end up with a sect of the parenting population who are having a child they know they aren't able to effectively raise but feel forced to have, and are therefore more likely to seek alternative sources of parental care for their kid -- again, you seem to be pushing what I have to say too far and assuming that I mean that this is the only source of irresponsible parenting when, really, the contraceptive thing is more of a footnote in my argument.

"I also don't see this purported shift to laissez-faire parenting attitudes. It's assumed these days that children need a lot more guidance and supervision than they were presumed to need in the past - the whole phenomenon of the soccer mom and the growth in extracurricular demands on children's time is a case in point. People who grew up in the fifties, for example, often describe having a lot more physical freedom and unscheduled time, from an earlier age, than people who grew up in later decades."

I'm really not sure how this is making your argument. Taking a child to soccer practice isn't necessarily an increase in parenting of their child -- I see that as passing your child off to a soccer coach to have them raise your child for an hour while you go off and do the groceries. At least in the fifties, parents actually spent a fair amount of quality time with their children, now parents spend so much time shuttling their kids from daycare to babysitter to TV that they have conveniently excised themselves from the parenting role -- they're more taxi-cab driver and financial provider than parent and role model.

"I have seen kids disciplined in public, quite recently at that. I don't think anecdotal evidence is a good basis for sweeping social theories."

Unfortunately, the only reason I would resort to anecdotal evidence is because I don't think there are any numbers on public disciplining of children. However, from http://www.religioustolerance.org/spankin2.htm, "a survey of U.S. parents shows a drop in the use of spanking as the main disciplinary method from 59% in 1962 to 19% in 1993. Parents now prefer using time-outs (38%) and lecturing (24%)." This indicates to me a much more recent shift in parenting attitudes than you are arguing. The reason I brought up the public disciplining thing though is that in Canada, a federal law, passed in the mid-90's prevents public spanking of a child by their parents -- this reflects the basic trend I've observed in both Canada and the U.S. of an increasing fear of disciplining children leading to more laissez-faire and/or passive parenting.

I'm glad your siblings have used Pull-Ups and yes, effective toilet training is secondary to what the underwear is made of, but I'm arguing that Pull-Ups and other diapers are another form of passing the buck (giving parents less reason to stick to a hardcore toilet training schedule because they can afford to skip a toilet training session if they so choose). But hey, if your parents were able to train your sibling not to wet themselves after fifteen years using Pull-Ups, than I would say more power to them.

"Yes, and I object to that because I don't think you have enough information to decide what caused her misbehaviour."

If she had ADD, does that make her tantrum unusual and therefore justify the teachers' bizarre actions? If you read my post, you'll note that I wasn't citing the girl's tantrum as an example of poor parenting (on the mother's part, I assume?) -- I was citing the behaviour of the teachers as an example of a laissez-faire or bargaining/pleading form of parenting rather than actual discipline.

When using the video as an example, I said: "And yet, the teachers in the video, terrified perhaps of lawsuits or falling into the belief that children can be handled like 'young adults', never raise their voices, never speak sharply to the child, and basically never establish themselves as the authority figures they should be." Whether ADD, emotional distress, or just lack of sleep, I don't really care why the child acted out -- you're right, I don't have enough information to speculate on why the child was upset... which is why I make no assumptions about this child, not even to suggest that she might have emotional problems. I was more shocked by the behaviour of the teachers, who showed little to know ability to control and discipline the child, which I think is symptomatic of a general problem with how adults treat children in today's America.

5/02/2005 03:31:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

(this is a different anonymous commenter, although i have commented before)

"I'm arguing that Pull-Ups and other diapers are another form of passing the buck (giving parents less reason to stick to a hardcore toilet training schedule because they can afford to skip a toilet training session if they so choose)."

who's to say that that is the one TRUE way of potty-training? why wouldn't a more flexible schedule be less traumatic to the child (especially if the results are the same)?


"Children nowadays are tyrants. They contradict their parents, gobble their food and tyrannise their teachers." -Socrates

5/02/2005 04:33:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"... except that I never said it was a "solution", hence if there's any straw man in this argument it's that you would find such a connection in the first place."

The connection is in the fact that you wrote about all three issues in the same post, and specifically said that the existence of overindulged children is what makes you so supportive of birth control. I don't see a significant connection between those three issues; you apparently do or you would not have linked them together in the same blog post.

"No. The point is that if you find yourself pregnant, parents need to start seeing having a child as a real, life-altering responsibility which means actual dedication to moulding the child they are about to create."

But in the golden age of parenting that you seem to be looking back on here, people had less access to birth control, not more. Women, in particular, had relatively little opportunity to decide how many children they would have; laws against contraception were struck down in the '60s, laws against abortion in the '70s, laws forbidding rape within marriage were put on the books in the '70s and '80s. People had children younger and they had more of them. Doesn't this contradict your thesis that birth control access will make for fewer overindulgent, under-disciplining parents?

"I'm really not sure how this is making your argument. Taking a child to soccer practice isn't necessarily an increase in parenting of their child -- I see that as passing your child off to a soccer coach to have them raise your child for an hour while you go off and do the groceries."

It's more parenting than is involved in sending your child to play outside for a few hours, or having him *walk* to practice - both of which mothers did in the '50s.

"At least in the fifties, parents actually spent a fair amount of quality time with their children"

The entire concept of "quality time" came several decades after the fifties.

"now parents spend so much time shuttling their kids from daycare to babysitter to TV that they have conveniently excised themselves from the parenting role -- they're more taxi-cab driver and financial provider than parent and role model."

This is what fathers were in the fifties model anyway; you may be talking about mothers here...

"However, from http://www.religioustolerance.org/spankin2.htm, "a survey of U.S. parents shows a drop in the use of spanking as the main disciplinary method from 59% in 1962 to 19% in 1993. Parents now prefer using time-outs (38%) and lecturing (24%)." This indicates to me a much more recent shift in parenting attitudes than you are arguing. The reason I brought up the public disciplining thing though is that in Canada, a federal law, passed in the mid-90's prevents public spanking of a child by their parents -- this reflects the basic trend I've observed in both Canada and the U.S. of an increasing fear of disciplining children leading to more laissez-faire and/or passive parenting."

So not hitting children means not disciplining them at all?

I don't necessarily agree with anti-spanking laws, but I think this represents a significant leap in logic.

"I'm arguing that Pull-Ups and other diapers are another form of passing the buck (giving parents less reason to stick to a hardcore toilet training schedule because they can afford to skip a toilet training session if they so choose)."

Sticking to a hardcore toilet training schedule such as you described more or less requires the existence of a stay-at-home parent with no conflicting demands on his or her time, which requires significant economic privilege, at the very least. I think you are being much too hard on parents who simply do not have the financial or other resources to do things perfectly.

"If she had ADD, does that make her tantrum unusual and therefore justify the teachers' bizarre actions?"

You didn't even touch on the bizarreness of calling the police, so why bring it up now?

"If you read my post, you'll note that I wasn't citing the girl's tantrum as an example of poor parenting (on the mother's part, I assume?) -- I was citing the behaviour of the teachers as an example of a laissez-faire or bargaining/pleading form of parenting rather than actual discipline."

So on the one hand you are complaining that parents want teachers to babysit or parent for them, and then on the other hand you are complaining that the teachers didn't discipline the child properly, and thus that the teachers' behaviour towards their student represented an example of poor parenting. Got it.

5/02/2005 07:52:00 PM  

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