Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Random Thoughts and Random Quotes: Parenting

Today's post comes courtesy of my Facebook Page - some random ideas, as well as some snide remarks, about the perils of parenting that I've been collecting and or making up.

Caution:  If you find yourself getting defensive when you read an item rather than just thoughtfully disagreeing with the sentiment expressed, this might mean that you are feeling guilty about the job you are doing or have done as a parent. If so, keep an open mind.  You may very well have a good reason for disagreeing, but on the other hand, you just might learn something.

I would particularly like to acknowledge and thank advice columnist Carolyn Hax, blogger pediatrician Claudia Gold, and parenting columnist John Rosemond for their amazing insights and way with words.

John Rosemond

Here's a useful retort for parents to use after being criticized by other parents for not making things easier for their adult kids all the time: “I know, right? Why couldn’t he stay safe in my basement playing video games!”

"...There are no parents more difficult to deal with, no parents who defend their children with greater ferocity, no parents more blind to reality, no parents more irrational, than the parents of bullies. They are world-class enablers and terrorists all rolled up into one. The apples don't fall far from the trees." ~ John Rosemond

The reason ADHD is more common in males has been discovered!! According to an article by Dr. Mary Seeman in the September issue of Psychiatric Times, evolutionary biology shows that boys naturally have more impulsivity, aggression, and high energy than girls. She goes on to state, "These sex traits, which served to establish social dominance among males early in the evolution of our species and aided the cause of sexual selection, are now a handicap and require therapeutic intervention." Wow, so now we know that the reason that ADHD is more common in males is "boys will be boys."

"Recently I saw several children who had been diagnosed with ADHD but for whom medication "didn't work". One mother told me about her own struggles with untreated depression. Another child spent weekends with an actively drinking alcoholic father. A third child quietly spoke with her mother of being frightened when she pulled her hair and hit her." ~ Claudia Gold M.D.

Carolyn Hax

What many child psychiatrists don't seem to know any more: " are notorious for having different sets of behaviors for different environments. Just ask the dismayed parents who have watched their otherwise stubborn kids magically fall in line with the rest of the class when they enter a school or day-care environment." ~ Carolyn Hax

On parenting teenagers: "Invariably, micromanaging results in four problems: deceit, disloyalty, conflict, and communication problems." ~ John Rosemond

"Parents make sure homework is returned without error, drill their kids on upcoming tests to the saturation point, and then complain if teachers do not give the grades they think their kids deserve. By that point, it's hard to tell whose grades they are." ~John Rosemond

"If you want your children to improve, let them overhear the nice things you say about them to others." ~ Dr. Haim Ginott

When was the last time you heard a mom tell a kid to get out of her hair for an entire afternoon by saying, "It's a nice day; go play outside!"?  My generation used to hear that all the time, and we were the better for it (paraphrasing John Rosemond).

"Today's mom watches her every child-rearing step lest she commit some egregious and apocalyptic parenting faux pas that will certainly doom her child to a life spent sleeping under overpasses, or worse, not going to Harvard." ~ John Rosemond

"'Good' parenting, apparently, is trying techniques on your kid that were never used on you, even though you still turned out just fine. 'I think TV is bad, I won't let my kids watch it.' Outstanding. But how do you explain how you watched 5 hours of TV a day for thirteen years straight and still turned out ok?" ~ The Last Psychiatrist

"I'm not ADHD; I'm just naughty" ~ formerly medicated foster child on the TV newsmagazine 20/20. Out of the mouths of babes...

On "because I said so" as a valid reason to give to a child: "If a child does not like the decision a parent makes, the child will not like the parent's reason. No child has ever said, "Dad, I gotta hand it to you...when you explain yourself like that, I can't help but agree!" ~ John Rosemond

A study that appeared in the journal Pediatrics revealed that 8% of pediatricians felt they had adequate training in prescribing antidepressants, 16% felt comfortable prescribing them, but 72% actually did." ~Claudia Gold

Boston Globe Headline: "ADHD rates low among Latinos - Findings baffle health researchers." Could it be that Latino parents are more likely to still demand that their children respect them?

Parents of out of control child: "We've tried everything!" That's the problem. They did not stick with anything long enough for it to work but ran willy nilly from one disciplinary measure to another. (paraphrasing John Rosemond)

"HGTV hosts a show on decorating for Halloween that shows new ways to turn the simple joys of childhood into a needlessely expensive way to keep up with the Joneses. Suburban one-upmanship. Now that's really scary!" - Kevin McDonough

With stepparents these days, the emphasis is no longer on parent, but on step - someone to be walked on. The stepparent is effectively disempowered by the "real" parent. The "real" parent enables the child's disrespect of rules as well as of the stepparent. (Paraphrasing John Rosemond).


  1. I wanted to drop you a quick note and tell you how much I enjoy reading your blog. I write for a treatment blog for youth treatment and I think a lot of your posts could be really helpful to the families who follow us. Are you intersted in having us repost any of your posts with links pointing to your blog? Either way, I hope you get a chance to check us out at We are now following your blog and a follow back from you would mean a great deal.

    Thanks so much-

    Cynthia Bond

    1. Hi Cynthia,

      Thanks for the compliment. Please feel free to re-post any of the posts.

  2. The last one about step parents: For a lot of step parents, it is very obvious that they have no interest in being parents of any kind. They are useless to their step kids, they do not love them, and they should stay out of a step kid's hair.

    I have heard and seen so many horror stories that I now have rules. If I ever have children and consider marrying someone not their father, it will be a prerequisite that he is able to bond with them and that he does not try to make me choose him over them. I will not sacrifice a relationship with my future children for a man who does not care about them.

    My other rule is that I will leave money to my kids. I would leave some to their step father...but I did not work so that my future children could inherit nothing when I pass on. I would want to make sure they are taken care of, and my fear would be that a step parent would not support them if I died.

    I remember reading about Yoko Ono, step parent to Julian Lennon. When John died, he left nothing to his son Julian. Yoko took everything. She sold Julian's birthday cards that he had made for John at auction as well as many other things like his toys. Julian had to go to auctions to buy back his father's things so that he could have keepsakes of him. Those two went to court for decades after John Lennon's death. And I am sure John left Yoko everything with the expectation that she would support her step son. I highly doubt he thought she would sell such highly personal things, and cut out his son to the extent that she did.

    I don't see step parents as getting walked on usually...There is a reason for the "evil stepmother" stereotype.

    As you can tell, I had an "evil stepmother." The emphasis was on "step" on the stepchildren. The "mother" part was silent.

    1. Henrietta,

      Thanks for your comment.

      Of course the type of problem you are describing with stepparents is also, unfortunately, very common, if not more common, than the one Rosemond is talking about.

      Certainly among the adult patients I see an abusive stepparent is far more common than one where the natural parent enables their child and won't let the stepparent do anything. (On the other hand, what I call the Freddie the Freeloader/Minnie the Moocher stepchild is less likely to come to therapy).

      Stepparents are far more likely to be sexually abusive than natural parents.

      Just as with anything else, either extreme is trouble.

  3. Do you have any studies that show the disparity of abuse between stepparents and natural parents?

    1. Dr. De Carvalho,

      Obviously good data is hard to come by because both victims and perpetrators of child sexual abuse hide their experiences, and one also has to take into account the percentage of natural versus blended families that are present in any sample one looks at.

      I am talking here only about child sexual abuse, because other forms of abuse may not be more common with step vs. natural parents.

      I have seen references that say that sexual abuse is more common with step parents, but would have to do a literature search. However, you can see a literature summary in "Childhood Sexual Abuse: A Reference Handbook" By Karen L. Kinnear, page 8. She mentions four studies that she bases this on.