April 7, 2016

"When your child comes home from school with tales of mean girls, aggressive boys and insensitive teachers, you feel for her, and often you let it show, but maybe you shouldn’t."

"Our kids feed off our emotions and get more distressed when we’re distressed. When my daughter communicates her worries to me, only to have me start worrying too, it definitely makes things worse. She needs me to be strong, but instead I inadvertently send the message that anxiety is the ‘right’ reaction to her problems."

From a WaPo article titled "6 ways good parents contribute to their child’s anxiety."

So after years of cranking up our sensitivity to bullying, it's time to deescalate. How about self-esteem? We overdoing that too? Yes. That's another of the problems found in the "good parents" — which seems to mean the parents who've responded to the mainstream media advice of the last X years:
When you constantly tell people your son is on track for a top college, or your daughter is going to be an Olympic gymnast, you feel like you’re building them up, but eventually the positive affirmation turns to pressure. Compliment your kids when they excel, but don’t make their excellence a reason to expect even more from them. Overly high expectations can create performance anxiety where there used to be joy and personal fulfillment.
The hard part is picking the exact right time to stop listening to advice. Or go back to Dr. Spock's page 1 meta-advice: "TRUST YOURSELF. You know more than you think you do.... Don't take too seriously all that the neighbors say. Don't be overawed by what the experts say. Don't be afraid to trust your own common sense. Bringing up your child won't be a complicated job if you take it easy and trust your own instincts...."

44 comments:

Mary Beth said...

"TRUST YOURSELF"

This is how we get anti-vaxxers.

Eleanor said...

We seldom get more from kids than we expect from them so parents should have expectations for their kids. The trick to not raising an anxiety-ridden kid to keep raising the bar incrementally. You don't decide your 4 year old is going to be an Olympic gymnast because she's the first in her gymnastics class to do a somersault. When she can do a somersault, you start on a cartwheel.

Henry said...

Parenting is pass/fail. Quoting old Sippican Cottage.

Fernandinande said...

She needs me to be strong, but instead I inadvertently send the message that anxiety is the ‘right’ reaction to her problems.

"The first energy that a child experiences after birth is mom’s calm, assertive energy. Later, the child will follow a pack leader who projects the same calm, assertive energy out of association. As pack followers, children return a calm, submissive energy that completes the pack balance. It is important to understand that most people are born to be submissive, because there can only be so many pack leaders."

Michael K said...

Parenting these days is a worry as I see even my own children becoming helicopter parents.

The days when I was growing up were much simpler. Less crime because the inner city feral children had not yet appeared.

Middle class parents let kids walk to school. In fact, I don't know how we would have gotten there, otherwise.

I rode a city bus about ten miles to high school. It was 5 blocks to the bus stop. 5/8 of a mile.

Of course, mothers were mostly home although mine went back to work when I was 13.

Fernandinande said...

"TRUST YOURSELF"

The best reason for that is that, absent gross negligence or abuse, "parenting" doesn't matter much.

Pinker: Why Parents (but not Parenting) Matter | Witty & smart piece by Brian Boutwell & Razib Khan. -> "Heritability and why Parents (but not Parenting) Matter"

khesanh0802 said...

There has been an "anti-bullying" ad appearing during the women's NCAA tournament that has convinced me that we are raising a generation of wimps. Good piece in yesterday's WSJ about Senator Ben Sasse's daughter's experience this spring on a cattle ranch here that speaks to child rearing.

rhhardin said...

Thurber, _Let Your Mind Alone! and other more or less inspirational pieces_

A fisking of various mental self-improvement articles of the day.

Char Char Binks said...

Just remember, success is mostly due to genetics. If you are a loser, your children probably will be, too, just like your parents were.

HT said...

Rather than it being a case of too much pressure, it's unrealistic hope with no pressure, which just leads to bitter disappointment - but eventually not immediately.

buwaya said...

"Just remember, success is mostly due to genetics. If you are a loser, your children probably will be, too, just like your parents were."

http://www.orthodoxytoday.org/articles/Wolfe-Sorry-But-Your-Soul-Just-Died.php

"Nobody wanted to believe that human brainpower is...that hardwired. Nobody wanted to learn in a flash that...the genetic fix is in. Nobody wanted to learn that he was...a hardwired genetic mediocrity...and that the best he could hope for in this Trough of Mortal Error was to live out his mediocre life as a stress–free dim bulb."

Interestingly, very little of this all is getting out. Note Tom Wolfe was writing in 1996.
I suspect that this is the most-suppressed line of scientific research there is.

Sebastian said...

"TRUST YOURSELF." I do. It's les autres I don't trust. In particular the Prog bullying bullies.

Abdul Abulbul Amir said...

One of the most important things my mother taught me was, "Sticks and stones will break my bones, but names will never hurt me."

buwaya said...

"Sticks and stones will break my bones, but names will never hurt me."

Yes they will. Start with the names, and the sticks and stones, and worse, will follow soon enough.
Teach your kids to fight.

Tom said...

Self-esteem and morale is a direct result of facing and overcoming challenges. And failure teaches consequential thinking. Protecting kids from non-fatal failure and artificially boosting self-esteem creates fragile personalities that crumble under any adversity.

I remember getting bullied as a kid and coming home with a black eye. My dad asked me if I threw the first punch. I said no. He said good - never throw the first punch. Then he asked if I threw the last punch. I said no. He told me I still had work to do and I'd need to learn to defend myself. He wasn't never a violent person but he knew that failing to face that challenge would have lasting effects on me and he couldn't fix it for me - I had to tackle that challenge myself. And I eventually did and the bullying stopped.

coupe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Michael K said...

"I suspect that this is the most-suppressed line of scientific research there is."

Not only can;t you get anything published but you probably lose tenure or never get it. It dates to the 1960s when inquiry was banned.

Beginning in the 1960s, a movement developed in academia with the aim of transforming scholarly pursuits into instruments of social change. It was motivated by intellectually fashionable ideas, such as Marxism and feminism, and by a trendy antipathy towards Western Civilization in general. Eventually it overwhelmed the humanities and deeply affected the social sciences.

I Have Misplaced My Pants said...

"TRUST YOURSELF"

Parenting these days is a worry as I see even my own children becoming helicopter parents.

Parents often can't do the former, as much as they would like to, and the latter is true.

I think a lot of you guys are older and your kids are grown, and you are so lucky. I'm still in the trenches (due in 4 weeks with my fifth, and her siblings are 6, 10, 12 and 14) and every year it gets harder and harder to make your own decisions and allow your kids room to fail and room to mess up without winding up in jail or running seriously afoul of the powers that be in their schools.

Anecdotes:

I send my youngest to the private neighborhood playground with an older sister or two fairly often. It's at the end of our block, in our tidy safe gated neighborhood, maybe a quarter mile from our house, and I worry every time that some worrywart is going to call the police because of an unattended child. It's happened twice before, when his oldest sister took him for walks in his stroller, around the block, when he was 3ish and she was 11, when I was making dinner. Thankfully in both instances we had a sensible cop who asked her if everything was all right and sent her on her way. Maybe next time I'll be the one on the news when I get arrested for neglect because they're not in my sight.

At a school they used to attend, the crossing guard had kittens and threatened to turn me into CPS when my 4th and 2nd graders walked to school without me. This was in a safe, clean, upscale neighborhood where they had to walk two blocks to the school, and there is a city-issued crossing guard to stop traffic and walk them across, with the light and in a crosswalk, the 4 lane road between the neighborhood and the school.

Their school does not allow silverware to be packed in their lunches. If I send leftovers or soup, they have to raise their hands and wait for a significant portion of their allotted lunch period to be brought a plastic spork (because they're not allowed to get up and get it for themselves).

Their school also does not allow OTC medications, which is defined to include chapstick, and even for 18 year old adult students. So my high schooler cannot be seen in possession of chapstick or motrin for her painful periods, and rather has to be granted permission and miss instructional time in order to go to the nurse for such items.

A friend of a friend was charged--although luckily had her case dismissed--with a crime whose literal name escapes me because she left her sick and sleeping 10 year old in the car on a mild day to go inside a drugstore to pick up a prescription for another sick child. She was gone for less than 10 minutes and in that time a passerby saw the child sleeping in the car and rather than just sit and watch for a few minutes until the mother returned and thus satisfy any concerns she had, she immediately called police. The mother is an exemplary parent of six happy and healthy children, but she was threatened with having them removed from her home and had to undergo parenting classes to atone for her "mistake," and she's extraordinarily lucky she wasn't punished further than that (other than the tens of thousands of dollars they had to withdraw from their retirement account to pay their attorney).

So how am I supposed to either trust myself or trust my kids in this kind of environment?

I Have Misplaced My Pants said...

p.s. my answer to my own question is that I tell my kids, frequently, that we have to do a lot in life to keep The Man off our backs, but that doesn't mean we don't think for ourselves, and that we recognize that The Man and most of the other people who want to tell us what to do are petty and stupid and more interested in maintaining orderly and docile citizens than in fostering freedom.

I Have Misplaced My Pants said...

Oh and I forgot my particular favorite--in what I see as a blatant disregard of their fourth amendment rights, in order for them to participate in any extracurricular activities whatsoever, I have to consent to random urine drug tests starting in seventh grade. There is no written policy to tell me what the district does with the results of these tests, with whom they are shared, what the cost involved is, nothing. I could decline, but that would mean no sports, no band, no UIL competition (Texas readers will understand what a big deal that is), no science team, no spelling bee, no choir, no student council, NOTHING.

Alex said...

Eleanor said...
We seldom get more from kids than we expect from them so parents should have expectations for their kids. The trick to not raising an anxiety-ridden kid to keep raising the bar incrementally.


Are you kidding me? Our society is currently run on the basis that "raising the bar" is a form of torture.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

I Have Misplaced My Pants said...

...due in 4 weeks with my fifth...

Congrats.

( and if this keeps happening, you might want to find or replace those pants )

Michael K said...

"Thankfully in both instances we had a sensible cop who asked her if everything was all right and sent her on her way. "

When my oldest daughter was two (She is now 49), she took a walk two blocks to a busy corner at Huntington Drive and Fremont in South Pasadena. A gas station employee on the corner saw her and called the cops. Her mother called about the same time to report her missing. The cops brought her home in the squad car, which she enjoyed immensely and which may be a reason she is an FBI agent.

I shudder to think what would happen now.

Laslo Spatula said...

Young Girl explaining the Confusion. Is this Next?

I am Laslo.

MayBee said...

The mother is an exemplary parent of six happy and healthy children, but she was threatened with having them removed from her home and had to undergo parenting classes to atone for her "mistake," and she's extraordinarily lucky she wasn't punished further than that (other than the tens of thousands of dollars they had to withdraw from their retirement account to pay their attorney).

This is why I rolled my eyes at the hubbub around Trump saying a woman should be punished in some way if she has an abortion.

People are so into punishing parents these days and it doesn't cause enough hubbub.

MayBee said...

But I completely agree with the article.

I've long been saying we are rewarding whiners and victims with attention, and so those who need attention whine and act like victims.
There's a lot to be said about empowering people not to care about what idiot bullies have to say.

Beach Brutus said...

A lot of trial and error wisdom accumulated in the several millennia prior to about 1960, and has been pissed away on scholarly theories ever since. In the age of enforced group think and safe spaces we have become a 1,9 society (for those who understand grid management). Conflict, within reason, was expected and tolerated. Competition was valued and encouraged as a way promoting and producing excellence. Now mediocrity and failure are not just excused but nurtured. Success and excellence are viewed as threatening. The results of this new paradigm were predicted -- but by the wrong people, those uncompassionate, hate filled conservatives.

Birches said...

I feel you Pants. My fifth is two months old and I often fear The Man coming after us because helicoptering is the norm.

My kids don't have a lot of problems at school, so I can't relate to the anxiety. But honestly, I have five kids, I don't have time to have anxiety over middle school issues. Having a lot of kids is a pretty good antidote to many of the middle class parenting woes.

Bill R said...

My mother would have said...

"Stop crying or I'll give you something to cry about".

CatherineM said...

I misplaced my pants - when I was in the 4th grade, I was a school crossing guard!!! It was a big deal in 4th grade to be eligible to become a crossing guard with the sash and badge helping younger kids cross. You had to be there at 7:45 or something until the bell. I got little too into it and started directing traffic until drivers called the school to complain and I was instructed to just make sure the kids crossed safely. :)

I can't believe 4th grade is too youngBro walk to school! Good gravy.

Congrats on the baby!

holdfast said...

In an ideal world I'd tell my sons to "never start a fight, but always finish one".

In the BS world of "zero tolerance" I am concerned that one of them will finish a fight and then get expelled. They are good boys, but a little too honest and not very sneaky, so following a fight, I know who would probably get pinched by the principal.

I despise bullying, and I learned as a kid that the only way to make a [male] bully stop was to make it not worth the effort. You don't even have to win the fight, you just have to prove that you're not a weak and easy mark. If you stand up to the bully, you might not even actually have to fight him - just convince him that you are ready to go all in. Bullies are in it for the power - not to get hurt.

Fabi said...

The tangential insanity foisted upon the greater education system by the left made it a little bizarre raising normal children, but we easily survived by laughing at the worst of it and reminding our children of this simple fact -- people who subscribe or succumb to such nonsense are complete losers and they will be very easy to trounce in every aspect of life going forward. We were correct in our assessment and our progeny have knocked down the whiners at every juncture like so many bowling pins. Or, as we say at our house: Winning!

Hagar said...

By today's standards, all of us kids from the old days in the old country should have been in reform school and all our parents should have been jailed for child negelect and abuse.

Michael K said...

This is why I rolled my eyes at the hubbub around Trump saying a woman should be punished in some way if she has an abortion.

I don't know from your comment if you realize this was an unrealistic hypothetical question designed to make news.

He is not a professional politician and one reason they are so dull and predictable is their experience with hostile media flacks who want only to create a quote.

There is no chance this would happen although I would have to say that I could understand this for very late term abortions.

Hagar said...

You cannot perform an abortion - legal or illegal - on a woman without her prior knowledge and assent, so if it was an illegal one she can - and should be - be charged now as an accomplice, enabler, etc., and so forth, as is being done for the participants in any other crime.
The prosecutors just don't do it.

RichardJohnson said...

At a school they used to attend, the crossing guard had kittens and threatened to turn me into CPS when my 4th and 2nd graders walked to school without me.

I started walking the two miles to school when I was in 3rd grade. I had gotten up early, had eaten my breakfast, and didn't want to wait the hour for the bus to come. No one ever gave me or my parents any flack for my walking to school.

Times have changed.

tim maguire said...

10 years ago: Buy my book! It tells you all about being a good parent!

Today: Buy my book! It tells you all about how, if you listened to my last book, you're doing it all wrong!

10 years from now: Buy my book! It tells you all about being a good parent!

There will always be buyers and, therefore, there will always be books.

Rusty said...

I taught my kids how to box.

Eric the Fruit Bat said...

I miss the good old days when a mother's anxiety was limited to whether her kids would get eaten by a saber-toothed tiger.

Unknown said...

A Texas high school principal and former school board member is facing up to 20 years in prison and a $10,000 fine for ordering her teenaged daughter to plant a hidden surveillance camera in a girl's locker room.

According to prosecutors in Denton County, Texas, Wendee Long is not only the principal of Fort Worth's Wayside Middle School, she is also the parent of two daughters who attend nearby Argyle High School. Long's daughters, who used to play for their school's basketball team, allegedly told their mother that their coach screamed at the players when no one was around.

prairie wind said...

Ha. Parents need an expert like Dr. Spock to tell them to trust themselves.

Michael said, Less crime because the inner city feral children had not yet appeared.

Check the statistics. The crime rate is lower than ever. It really is safer than ever for our kids. Probably why we dream up things for them to be anxious about.

FreeRangeKids is a great resource for parents who don't want to be helicopter parents.

Gabriel said...

"TRUST YOURSELF. You know more than you think you do.... Don't take too seriously all that the neighbors say. Don't be overawed by what the experts say. Don't be afraid to trust your own common sense. Bringing up your child won't be a complicated job if you take it easy and trust your own instincts...."

BRIAN: Look. You've got it all wrong. You don't need to follow me. You don't need to follow anybody! You've got to think for yourselves. You're all individuals!

FOLLOWERS: Yes, we're all individuals!

BRIAN: You're all different!

FOLLOWERS: Yes, we are all different!

DENNIS: I'm not.

ARTHUR: Shhhh.

FOLLOWERS: Shh. Shhhh. Shhh.

BRIAN: You've all got to work it out for yourselves!

FOLLOWERS: Yes! We've got to work it out for ourselves!

BRIAN: Exactly!

FOLLOWERS: Tell us more!

Gabriel said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
kentuckyliz said...

As a school kid, I can point to three critical incidents where I worked it out for myself and stood up for myself, and therefore never had any problems on an ongoing basis.

In third grade, a bully kid teased me for being tall. "How's the weather up there?" I spit in his face and said, "It's raining!" and laughed. No probs. That was the elementary school incident.

In middle school, for some reason, one girl had unknown issues with me and I heard through the grapevine that she wanted to fight me. I showed up, she didn't. The crowd awaiting the fight all learned she was all talk no action and a coward. That was the middle school incident.

In high school, for some unknown reason, one girl on the fringe of my social world wanted to fight me and I heard that she carried a knife. I brought a kitchen knife to school ready to rumble. Somehow the school officials learned about it and searched my purse, book bag, and locker. They didn't find the knife because I had it cleverly hidden in a metal ridge in the top door jamb of the locker. Anyway, word got out that I had brought a knife and was ready to have a knife fight with this big tough chick from the Bottoms, and that's all it took. I didn't get in trouble, never had the fight, returned the knife to the knife block before Mom got home from work, and she interrogated me and I denied everything. The chick who wanted to fight me actually came to me and apologized--she was probably scared shitless that someone called her bluff. We actually became sorta friends after that and laughed about the incident. That was the high school incident.

I NEVER shed a tear or agonized or whined. I solved my own problems on my own without involving any adults. It was effective each time and notice I never had to fight. I've never had a fight in my life. I'm big, strong, and assertive, so most folks are a little intimidated by me. I'm also a gentle, let's sit and talk about this kind of person so angry people calm down around me. I got skillz because I worked it out "on the playground."

All these delicate snowflakes nowadays--they have anxiety disorders and depression and prescriptions and Voc Rehab because they were bullied and teased in school. I want to tell them to buck up and stand up for themselves and not give a shit about what assholes think of them. But the system pays them to quiver like jello psychologically. Lifelong disability checks and welfare. We are incentivizing the quivering jello approach to life.