No­tion of ‘ex­tra­or­di­nary’ par­ents is fool­ish

The State (Sunday) - - Palmetto - BY JOHN ROSE­MOND Visit fam­ily psy­chol­o­gist John Rose­mond’s web­site www.john­rose­

In an opin­ion piece re­cently fea­tured on, Jonathan Pok­luda ex­pli­cates his 10 habits of ex­tra­or­di­nary par­ents. Pok­luda, a teach­ing pas­tor at a megachurch in Texas, and his wife are in the midst of what he terms “the par­ent­ing ex­per­i­ment” with three young chil­dren.

In the in­tro­duc­tion to his 10 habits, Pok­luda says that ac­cord­ing to his ob­ser­va­tions, ex­tra­or­di­nary young peo­ple come from ex­tra­or­di­nary par­ents. I don’t know where he’s mak­ing his ob­ser­va­tions, but tales abound of ex­tra­or­di­nary peo­ple whose chil­dren have gone off the prover­bial deep end and never made it back. Like­wise, tales abound of fine, up­stand­ing peo­ple who were raised by par­ents who fell far short of ex­tra­or­di­nary. The very false no­tion that ex­tra­or­di­nary peo­ple are raised by ex­tra­or­di­nary peo­ple does noth­ing but set peo­ple up for par­a­lyz­ing guilt.

Pok­luda as­serts that “if there was a par­ent­ing score­board, spend­ing time with our kids is how we’d earn points.” That’s the post­mod­ern par­ent­ing stan­dard, for sure. Be­ing a mil­len­nial, raised af­ter the psy­cho­log­i­cal par­ent­ing rev­o­lu­tion of the late 1960s/1970s, Pok­luda doesn’t know that the men­tal health of chil­dren in the 1950s, be­fore “par­ent­ing” was even a word and when par­ents did not feel a com­pul­sion to spend lots of time and be in­volved was 10 times bet­ter than the men­tal health of to­day’s kids. In to­day’s par­ent­ing lex­i­con, the word “in­volve­ment” is a eu­phemism for mi­cro­manag­ing, which never works for any­one con­cerned.

To­day’s “par­ent­ing” is all about es­tab­lish­ing and main­tain­ing a won­der­ful re­la­tion­ship. Years ago, par­ents un­der­stood that their first and fore­most re­spon­si­bil­ity was to pro­vide lead­er­ship. Put re­la­tion­ship first and dis­ci­pline will be dif­fi­cult, stress­ful, and of­ten lead to re­gret­ful out­bursts from par­ents, which, I sus­pect, is why Pok­luda lists ask­ing for for­give­ness from one’s kids among his 10 habits.

But Pok­luda’s most glar­ing er­ror is that of omit­ting that ex­tra­or­di­nary par­ents are hus­band and wife first, mom and dad sec­ond. He and his wife are ob­vi­ously com­pletely im­mersed in the roles of Mommy and Daddy. With ev­ery in­ten­tion of help­ing them be­fore that can gets kicked too far down the road: That is the sin­gle biggest of all par­ent­ing er­rors. Noth­ing puts a more solid foun­da­tion of se­cu­rity and well­be­ing un­der a child’s feet than the knowl­edge his par­ents are in an ac­tive, com­mit­ted re­la­tion­ship.

Chil­dren leave some­day, which is why it is so im­por­tant to take care, in the mean­time, of that which re­mains – or is sup­posed to, at least.

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