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.