Once upon a time, people got married, had children, and raised them to be self-sufficient, fully functioning adults. Then their children got married, had their own children and raised them to be self-sufficient, fully functioning adults.
The older generation helped their young adult children learn to parent. In time, new, young parents discovered their own way, finding their own voice to raise their children. As Tevye the Milkman says in Fiddler on the Roof, “everyone knows who he is and what G-d expects him to do.”
This may seem like a fairy tale today, but I can testify—this is how parenting worked for many generations with little fuss or fanfare.
As a pediatrician, I fear that we have lost this time-proven continuity as one coddled generation is raising an even more coddled generation.
I see parents treat children as their peers and equals with no boundaries. Protracted childhood and adolescence lets people avoid responsibility—they expect to be taken care of ad infinitum. I’ve heard the current generation called the “snowflake generation.” Why? Because each person is unique. Each person is special. Each person is an individual. And when you touch one – or have some kind of expectation of them – they melt immediately.
There’s a terrific video I recommend on this topic with parenting expert John Rosemond presented by Prager U. Click here to watch it. Rosemond has been talking about the lack of Vitamin N (for “No”) since the 1980s (he’s clairvoyant). His premise: Vitamin N—saying NO to your children is as important as Vitamins A, B, and C for a child’s healthy growth and development. In fact, Rosemond said, Vitamin N is “the most character-building two-letter word in the English language.”
I’ve seen children bossing their parents. It never ceases to amaze us when a parent asks their child whether he wants to see the doctor. They are in the waiting room with an appointment. Of course they are going in. When families are run like democracies, how are children going to learn to respect any higher authority? The venerable parenting specialist Rebbitzen Sima Spetner is uncompromising in her belief that respect for parents is the foundation for respect for G-d and awe of heaven.
Parenting effectively means that often you will not rank on your child’s list of favorite people. That’s fine because you’re there for the long haul. Parenting requires boundary-setting. Using your judgment. Saying NO sometimes. When your child accuses you of being mean or unfair, smile inwardly because you’ve stepped up and acted as their parent, not their friend.
As parents, we enjoy some successes in the moment. Invariably, we are going to fail in many moments. But pick yourself up and go on. You might fail again, but it will be a “good” failure. Stay the course. Your children and society will be better for it.
I’m cheering you on.