Another John Rosemond rant

So I googled “shock and awe” and this came up. That sent me on a googling spree, and now I have to vent about what I found. TL,DR: Parenting expert was raised by jerks, crusades to have all children treated as badly as he was.

Anyway, the linked column above? I can’t even. Some kind of social friction at a pre-school, doesn’t even sound to me like anyone’s being mean, just that they’re new at being social. But what Rosemond recommends is “read[ing] the riot act.” There should be a meeting, with all parents present:

…should take the form of an intervention rather than an opportunity for the girls to express their feelings…In fact, I’d recommend that the girls not even be given permission to speak.

Good luck with that. And there’s nothing wrong with this, on the face of it:

The parents should make it perfectly clear that they will not be allowed to be selfish, nasty and mean to one another; rather, each of them is expected to be a friend to everyone else, and equally so.

But when it’s followed by this, I can’t really hear the preceding paragraph in Fred Rogers’ voice:

The meeting should end with “DO YOU UNDERSTAND?” at which point, if the shock-and-awe has been effective, all the girls, wide-eyed, will nod their heads.

“Good,” a parent should say, as all the parents get up and begin filing out of the room. “We are going to leave you alone to apologize to one another. Be forewarned, we don’t want to ever hear this sort of stuff again.”

I’m not sure if the all-caps indicates bellowing, or a menacing tone. Either way, I honestly felt like I swallowed an ice cube, reading that. Do this guy’s fans actually think “Having a group of five-year-old girls staring at me wide-eyed in terror is a goal I want to achieve”?

And I’m not sure he even understands the problem. Unless I missed something, it didn’t sound like anyone was being mean. Meanness implies that someone was being excluded, when the question clearly states that the friction is from everyone wanting to be the friend of this one girl. What it sounds like to me is that this is a “today” problem. With fewer kids in a generation, and fewer of them being allowed to play/hang out outside, children don’t really start learning how to socialize and negotiate friendships until they get to preschool, or whatever level of school they start with. But you know what Rosey thinks causes it? Reality TV.

Of course, when a girl is eighteen or older, and involved with a guy who is mean and nasty to her, she should be patient and try to cure him of one bad habit. (If that link doesn’t work, here’s another. It’s easier to link to the articles responding to the original column than the column itself.) Daughter’s SO constantly criticizes and belittles her. Rosey urges them not to interfere, because the guy doesn’t smoke, play video games or wear baggy clothing, and he knows what line of work he wants to go into. So don’t let this one get away!

Anyway, it’s not a question of whether the young lady’s feelings are hurt or not. If her parents raised her right, they never validated her feelings, so now she knows better than to bother anyone else about them.

Just as children must be told that certain behavior is inappropriate, so must they be told that the expression of certain emotions is inappropriate.

In the world according to Rosey, there is only one emotion children should be allowed to express. That is rage, in response to their parents’ decisions. If your child has never said “I hate you,” “You’re mean,” “You’re making me cry,” and has never slammed a door after you’ve handed down a punishment, you. are doing. it wrong. But, they are not allowed to be sad, because then they’re a drag and it bothers their parents. They’re not allowed to be too happy, because that annoys their parents. They’re not allowed to be quiet and reflective…well, you get the idea. And if they’re sad, confused, or for any reason want to talk about something that’s on their mind, parents must not indulge them. Because if you pay attention to a child who’s feeling bad, he will continue to feel bad in order to get attention. No mention of giving him some positive attention to begin with, of course.

And this, from the same article, is another ice-cube moment.

These days, it is psychologically incorrect to say to a child, “You’re being silly. There are children in the world who have real problems, like not having enough food. If the worst problem in your life is that someone called you a name, well, sorry to tell you, but I’m not going to give that the time of day. I’ve got much better things to do. Get a grip, kiddo.”

Those approximate my mother’s words to me on occasions when I was making emotional mountains out of molehills.

There’s a strong possibility that the name he was called was “bastard”. He didn’t have a father, and that was unusual when/where he was a kid, and he claims that other kids tended to give him a hard time about it. If that’s what he was referring to, I’d say that’s a topic that definitely should be discussed. And even if it’s not, I can’t believe anyone would give that speech to their own child. “Hard-hearted” is the least I can say.

But a lot of the anecdotes from his childhood sound like a twisted Leave it to Beaver. I can’t find the two I’m about to mention, but there was one about his mother and stepfather giving him a stern warning not to tell anyone that his mother worked outside the home. “It was shameful, bordering on scandalous,” he said, with zero irony. Because his mom working could only mean that his stepfather couldn’t support the family on his earnings alone, and if anyone knew, stepdad would have to surrender his balls, or something.

The other was about how children naturally respect authority, and furthermore, will never respect someone who doesn’t crack a whip at them. His stepfather, who he lived with, was a fascist, and young Johnny treated him with the utmost respect. Then he’d go to his father’s place, where dad’s new wife was nice to him. So he was rude to her, and this proves that adults who treat children like people will get walked all over. Uh, no. I believe what it proves is that he built up a lot of frustration in stepdad’s house, and then took it out on stepmom, knowing she’d get upset, and he could transfer his anger.

Actually, I have to wonder if maybe this guy has been writing fiction and laughing all the way to the bank for forty years. Because there was another one that I think has to be at least embellished. Can’t link or quote because it went behind a paywall after I first pulled it up. But it was an ode to “tongue-lashings”. And honestly, it sounded kind of over the top, like a flashback scene in a spoof film explaining how the villain turned evil. He went into exquisite detail about how one day in school (I wish I could remember what grade), the teacher called him out in front of the entire class. He’d turned in the worst paper she’d ever read, he had to write it over, five pages instead of three, the highest grade he could expect was a C no matter how well he did…All this while the rest of the class laughed, and he turned red and prayed for an earthquake.

But you see, that was the best thing that ever happened to him! At least in school. He understood that by writing a sloppy paper, he was disrespecting Miss Trunchbull. How fortunate he was, to have attended school before anyone had ever heard of self-esteem.

Sigh. If you’re still reading this, cheers. And about the first topic, the preschool follies. I should think the preschool staff would handle this. Isn’t that part of their job? But I can see Rosemond dismissing their efforts because they read too many psychobabble books, and neglected to use the common sense and wisdom of their grandparents.

All of that is nauseating, and it’s completely at odds with the body of research on child development. Authoritarian parenting is damaging. Permissive parenting is damaging. The healthy sweet spot is authoritative parenting - the ability to validate your child’s feelings and give them reasonable consequences for their actions. What this man is describing is emotional abuse.

I grew up in an authoritarian household, and heard such gems as “you have no rights” and “it doesn’t matter how you feel.” There were other kinds of abuse in my household but none messed me up so much as the complete and utter lack of respect for my personhood.

Excuse me while I go vomit.

Not only is his treatment asinine, he also completely misdiagnoses the problem.

To review: a five-year-old girl cries hysterically because one friend hugs another. Rosemond suggests chewing these girls out because they’re not all being friends equally to one another.

Buddy, five-year-old children cry over everything. They feel things with their whole hearts. They cry hysterically because their sandwich was made with crunchy peanut butter instead of creamy. They cry hysterically because a worm got stepped on. They cry hysterically because they didn’t get ice cream.

And kids, just like everyone, have different relationships with different people. Hugging one person and not another is something people do.

The behavior exhibited by these kids is totally normal behavior.

The best advice here would be to comfort the crying child, to let her express her feelings, and to help her see things from another view: the hugger wasn’t doing anything wrong by giving a hug to someone else, but if the cryer flips her shit at the hugger, the hugger might not want to give the cryer a hug next time either. Help her name her emotions; help her come up with some social strategies for navigating friendships.

Rosemond’s advice–to inform the children with Scary Face on that they must all be equally friends with one another at all times–is nonsensical. Saying “DO YOU UNDERSTAND” is weird because I don’t understand. What does that even look like in practice? How do you show equal friendship to everyone else? He says they’re not allowed to be mean and nasty–but the only evidence of meanness is one kid having a meltdown, which is neither mean nor nasty but is something five year olds do when their hearts are feeling an emotion they don’t know how to deal with.

He’s not even a competent authoritarian. He has no goddamn idea how kids work.

They cry hysterically because their daddy tells them they’re not a single lady.

Who is John Rosemond, btw?

I remember seeing this prick’s scowling mug on top of his gross newspaper column back when I used to get a newspaper.

He only has one idea, which is authoritarian parenting. He sells articles because authoritarians lap that shit up with an oversized soup ladle (and a side of boot-leather to lick).

That is good advice. And that’s what’s so aggravating about Rosemond. He has such a mental block about anything that’s part of the emotional realm. He seems to honestly think that the only possible result of letting a child talk about how they feel is that they’ll get stuck in a loop of attention-seeking and self-pity. He can’t fathom the idea of talking with a child, with the result being that they learn something and modify their behavior.

With that bit I quoted above, about his mom saying “Well, I’m sorry, but I’m not going to give that the time of day; I’ve got better things to do,” I thought of a reason why she might have thought she was doing the right thing. She and Rosemond’s bio-dad divorced when he was very young, and although she remarried, at the start she didn’t know if she was going to be a single mom all the way through. So she may have been worried about a son with no father figure turning out…you know…unless she toughened him up. At least, I hope that was it.

kaylasdad, I’m glad, for Kayla’s sake, that you’ve never heard of this clown. FTR, he’s a “parenting expert” who writes a weekly column, and travels the USA giving lectures on how to parent the old-fashioned way. (I read a post on another forum from someone who’d paid to hear him speak. Said he lectured for two hours non-stop, and did not take questions either during or afterwards. Kind of how he recommends dealing with children: Because I Said So.

I’d have no problem believing that the ‘advice’ was written 100 years ago.

More like 150 years ago. 100 years ago was 1920, and I think by then, kids were allowed a little more leeway than this guy recommends.

Here’s another one that kills me. He claims to be “a member of the last generation of American children who were no big deal.” Goes on to say that his parents never helped with schoolwork in any way, although Og help him if he got less than an A average. Which he did, but his very sensible mom and stepdad never bragged about that. Nor did they bat an eyelash when he got the highest ACT score in a class of 900. And of course, they never watched him play sports or even asked how he’d done. His pitching a no-hitter and being in two district championships were No Big Deal to the parental units. He also claims that it was the same way for all children and teenagers of his generation. And that’s the way it should be, he says.

Except that I have a hard time believing this. First of all, unless a lot of authors and a lot of people I know have all been lying, people bragged on their kids plenty in the 1930s, 1940s, and yes, the 1950s. Second and specifically, if he really got the highest ACT score, and especially if the class really was that big, I can’t see a parent keeping silent about that. Maybe they didn’t brag that he knew of; I can believe someone would take care to mention this kind of thing only when the object of pride wasn’t around. But not mentioning it at all? There would have to be something wrong with them.

I wonder what his mom’s side of it would be. “Of course I told people about his ACT score! Just not in front of him. And I went to SOME of his baseball games, when I could. He’s just never gotten over it that I wasn’t there the day he pitched a no-hitter.” Orrrrrrr, it could be, “I feel terrible about this, but my husband, my son’s stepfather, insisted that we never praise him for anything he did, no matter how well he did it. Said he didn’t want an accomplishment to ‘go to his head’, and like that. If I had it to do over, I think I would have told my son, to his face, at least once, that I was proud of him.”

I mean, he also says “For Christmas and my birthday, I generally received school supplies.” Hold the phone. Correct me if I’m wrong, but IME, a parent giving school supplies as a birthday or Christmas present to their child means one of two things. Maybe they’re barely getting by, and replacing a shabby old binder with a shiny new one is a gift. If that’s not the case, if they could afford “fun” gifts but choose not to give them, it sounds like they don’t like the kid. I’m not convinced that his upbringing was ideal. And clearly, he did not turn out as all right as he seems to think he did.

Yep. I don’t recall my dad ever complimenting me directly, and so was shocked when one of my uncle’s told me that dad had been talking me up.

Okay, I think now I fully understand what makes this guy tick.

I found one of his books at a junk shop: “Grandma Was Right After All!” It’s a list of cliches parents and grandparents get mocked for saying. “Because I said so,” “If all your friends jumped off a bridge, would you?” “Money doesn’t grow on trees,” and so forth. He explains how each of these is logical, backed up by Scripture, and guaranteed to bring instant compliance from children/teenagers. He also goes into a lot of detail about his background.

For instance, there’s a chilling scene in the “You will have to learn to stand on your own two feet” chapter. Now, mind you, of course I agree with that, in theory. And I’m not a parent, but I would think that a parent’s job is to help their child/ren develop the skills that they’ll need to stand on their own two feet, not to do what Rosemond’s mom did.

Bear with me on this. His mother was a kid during the Depression. Long story, but she and her two siblings were placed in a church-run children’s home, despite still having one living parent. That was a thing in those days. She got married at 18, and immediately had a baby, young Johnny. Then the marriage broke up, and she struggled along until she found another SOB to marry. (Funny how Rosemond calls his stepfather abusive, toxic and sociopathic, but also claims that he was the best disciplinarian, and all parents, step or otherwise, should use his methods.) And I don’t disagree with JR that that sounds like one tough lady. Still, what I’m about to describe…

Young Johnny was in the fifth grade, and having a hard time with his math homework. Mom took the textbook from him, made a show of looking at it, then handed it back, saying “I didn’t have anyone to help me figure this stuff out when I was your age. I figured it out on my own, and so can you.” Of course this was upsetting to hear, but JR chalks that up to his having been a needy brat who couldn’t appreciate what a gift his mother was giving him: her faith that he could figure it out. What I figure is this:

I believe it, that his mother got no love or even positive attention in the children’s home. It sounds to me, though, that she she was so determined to succeed and rise above her circumstances, she convinced herself that she succeeded because of the children’s home, not in spite of it*. Also, she may have been worried about having to do something similar with her son: place him in foster care, adopt him out entirely, or have bio-dad come back and demand shared or full custody. And I have a sneaking suspicion that she didn’t want a baby so much as she wanted to get married, that being the fastest/easiest way out of the children’s home. She may not have loved her son very much to begin with, and later made a conscious effort not to become too fond of him, just in case. But what I say is, why not give him up for adoption and be done with it? I’m sure that’s an indescribably painful thing to have to do. But deliberately withholding love and affection is just sick.

JR twisted the knife in his own ribs by pointing out that math was his mom’s wheelhouse, and she still wouldn’t help him, because…he wouldn’t learn anything that way. He also talks about mom and stepdad having their Well-Educated Friends over for Intellectual and Stimulating Conversation, and that he was allowed to be in the room, but not!!! to draw any!!! attention to himself. See, if he’d asked questions, he wouldn’t have learned anything. I mean, I get that you don’t want a kid derailing the conversation, but why not just make other arrangements? But according to JR, only teachers should teach. Kids should learn everything else on their own, like how to ride a bike or where the Big Dipper is. “This is a fact,” he says. “Children are not going to look up to adults who act like they want to be, or want the approval of children.”

All I have to say to that is this: “Kids don’t care how much you know. But they know how much you care.” Heard it from a guy who worked with at-risk kids, and had a great success rate.

And there’s other stuff, about JR and his stepfather, and him and his own kids, but this is enough for one post.

*Nothing was said about how she and her own mother got along: did she resent mom, or did she also convince herself mom was a saint for giving her up? But I do know that grandmother had a hand in raising JR, and she’s the source of all the cliches. What I think is, Grandma didn’t like him much either, and furthermore, didn’t appreciate having to care for a child at that time in her life. So her supposed wisdom all boiled down to “Scram kid, ya bother me.”

Picture Dr. Phil as a Dr. Spock wannabe.

Aah. One of those

Skywatcher, that’s an insult to Drs. Phil and Spock. I’d say he’s like one of those Judgment-Day’s-a-coming’ fundy preachers, who has decided that scaring kids into blind unquestioning obedience is the best way to prevent Armageddon.

I would not have thought he was born in 1947. I’d have guessed at least ten years earlier for any of his claims about “his” generation to make any sense at all. The cartoon referred to in the blog post below was published when he was in his mid-teens, after all…

He’s like Dr. Spock for the fundies and probably wishes he had Dr. Phil’s audience. Dr. Phil, by the way, is no longer a licensed psychologist.

I remember when his column was in our local newspaper years ago, and even then, he seemed like a miserable SOB. Dude is always scowling in every picture I’ve ever seen of him, and he always sounds resentful of any happy, healthy child out there.

My grandparents were of the same generation of his parents, and I can’t imagine them acting as his did. And my father tells me about HIS grandparents, who spoiled the living shit out of him and my aunts, despite being of an even older generation.
My grandparents were strict, yeah, but I still remember stories my parents telling me, and even though they didn’t have much money, the idea of school supplies for gifts sounds like so much bullshit.

Jesus, he’s probably the shittiest grandfather in the world, too.

And isn’t it the opposite: asking questions is how you learn! That’s what I was always told!

The guy possibly has Stockholm syndrome, in a way. (Has he ever said what his father and/or stepmother were like?)

This guy is slightly younger than my dad. I have to say that they sound like siblings. My first inclination was that this indicated that this might be a generational thing, but then I remembered that my dad’s an SOB. Pitting endorsed.

Yes, I mentioned that in the OP. He mentions them only rarely, and then as examples of how not to parent: they were too nice, too lenient, too friendly, generally too positive. Which caused him to have no respect for them. As I said in the OP, sounds like misplaced resentment. He knew it would upset them if he threw attitude. Unlike stepdad…

In the book I’ve got here, he gives examples of stepdad’s brilliance. “If you are reprimanded by a teacher for any reason between now and the end of the school year, you are going to repeat the seventh grade…I’ve said all I’m going to say.” And from then on, young Johnny became an automaton, out of abject fear. Years later, he gave his fifth-grade son the same threat, and it had the same effect.

Now, skip ahead to the summer between high school and college. If it’s true, what he’s said and I’ve quoted upthread, about his being a top student and star athlete all through high school, I can see why he’d feel he was entitled to blow off some steam. Especially since there had been no rewards and no appreciation, other than “Good job,” if he’d done perfect (“And it didn’t carry an exclamation point”). If he’d done less than perfect, his wardens made sure to point that out. So okay, he goes out cruising in his friend’s car, they see some guys from the competing high school, both cars pull over, punches are thrown, and next thing you know, eight suburban punks are in holding cells. Seven were bailed out by their parents. One was not. One had to spend two nights in the holding cell, with no mattress, blanket, towel or soap, and then be released to eight weeks of being grounded and doing backbreaking chores.

The thing is, though, the way he describes his upbringing, soap and a blanket are about the only things that made it different from being in jail. So much of his advice sounds like teaching a new warden the ropes: no emotional connection, don’t get them get to you, don’t let your guard down, and be immediately suspicious of any activity that you didn’t order. If that’s how he was raised, I’m not surprised he rebelled.

But of course, that was part of stepdad’s master plan. “I knew if I gave you enough rope, you’d hang yourself.” Meaning, SD knew these friends of his were bad news, and gave him every chance to get in real trouble, so he could prove…something. See, according to JR, parents who try to curb delinquent behavior are micromanaging, and it’s not going to to any good. What I think? Parents don’t want their kid to end up dead. They don’t want them to do a crime, whether or not they get arrested. They don’t want a date rape on their conscience…At least, decent parents don’t. They sure don’t stand by, licking their chops and saying “Okay, this is what we’ll do when he gets arrested, and I hope it’s soon!”

Here’s the part I can’t figure out; if John Rosemond thinks the best way to learn something is to figure it out for yourself, why should I buy any of his books or anything he’s ever written? We don’t need John Rosemond to tell us how to be parents, or anything else.

Why you need his advice is because so many “so-called parenting experts” (one of his favorite phrases) have written so many books and otherwise influenced society with their psychobabble, people have forgotten how to use the common sense and wisdom of their grandparents. So you need to read his books, or at least his column, to help you filter out all the chatter and static. His mission is to remind people of a time that never existed.