by Fred Davis, LPC (Intro by Dr. Bert Pitts)
A friend of mine from Jackson, Mississippi who attended the First Baptist Church there relocated to Birmingham. She shared with me the following jewel of a parenting article from a local newspaper. Reader be warned: Mr. Davis has no goal of writing a “feel-good” article or being kind. He wants today’s generation of child-centered, guilt-ridden, stressed-out parents to WAKE UP before it is too late. In fact, he hopes to scare…scare us into realizing that bringing up our children to think they are the “center of our life” (or universe) is dangerous…and we should be ashamed. I have never met or talked to Fred, but from reading, admiring and using his article for years, I am sure he would be the first to say that there is nothing “new” about the parenting of which he speaks: In fact, it is nothing but old. Good old-fashioned parenting, that is…parenting of the 1950’s, 40’s, 30’s and before…the age not of child-centered, but more appropriately PARENT-CENTERED families. Hear Fred’s “blast from the past,” if you are wise…(and willing to learn to be less stressed by your kids, and know you are raising better ones!).
Fred Davis, LPC
First Baptist Church
Reprinted by permission
FOCUSING ON CHILDREN is a recipe for failure. You say, “Of course we focus on our children, they are our number one priority.” Well, that sounds good, but it is a recipe for failure. The sad truth is that if you are focusing on your children, you are handicapping them; and, if you have created a home in which your child feels that he is the top priority, you are guilty of parenting malpractice.
Your reward will be children who are self-centered and overly-dependent, and, therefore, ill-prepared for life. A child who has been the focus, the priority, is clueless when he encounters teachers, law enforcement personnel and other authority figure that do not hold him in such high regard. If he has been protected from all harm and hurt at home, he will not know what to do when he first experiences negative feedback from the real world. Since he lacks the life-management skills to deal with reality, he will either rebel against it or withdraw from it. The irony is that the successes loving parents want for their children become less likely the more children are their focus. The child who feels that he is the focus and priority of the family will have trouble becoming a team player; instead of becoming a member of the team, he often assumes he is the reason for the team. While his parents are continually giving and doing, he is not learning to be self-reliant; and the longer he cannot do for himself, the more he expects others to do for him. The result is a sense of entitlement instead of a spirit of gratitude. We confuse and deceive our kids when we make them believe they are the center of the universe.
WE ARE CORRECT in protecting children from harm, but we go too far when we protect them from reality. There is pain in not having your way; there is pain in having to wait for what you want or in being told that you are wrong; it is painful to be made to follow rules that you did not make, and even more painful to endure the consequences that come if you choose not to follow them. Parenting is not just protecting, it is preparing…preparing for reality.