The Norman Transcript

Features

May 10, 2013

Parents and children acted differently back in the day

(Continued)

NORMAN —

Back then, elementary school classes often held more than 40 children, most of whom came to first grade not knowing their ABCs. Back then, your mother didn’t give you much, if any, help with your homework. Yet at the end of first grade, and every subsequent grade, those kids were outperforming today’s kids in every subject, and today’s moms think good moms help with homework.

Today’s parents still pay the bills, buy the clothes, prepare the food and so on, but by some strange twist, they treat their children as if they are the most important people in the family.

Parents don’t act bigger any more, either. When they talk to their children, they get down to their level, like they’re petitioning the king, and they whine, as in, “Do you think you can stop what you’re doing for a minute and help Mommy carry in the groceries?” The rule seems very simple: Parents ask children to do things, and children take their requests under consideration.

Today’s typical mom and dad pay a lot more attention to the children than they do to one another. They also talk more to them, do more for them and take more interest in them. It would seem that today’s parents are the satellites, orbiting around the children, who are obviously big fish and getting bigger all the time.

And so, today’s kids leave home later, and many of them come back home (the so-called “boomerang child”) because they never learned certain fundamentals, as in don’t spend more than you earn.

Sometimes people accuse me of what’s called “Golden Age” thinking. I “idealize” the 1950s, they say. I disagree. I only say what is statistically verifiable: The 1950s was a better time for kids. According to mental health statistics, we were happier than today’s kids, by far.

In that regard, the latest research finds that obedient children are much happier than disobedient children. The latest research also finds that kids from homes where their parents’ marriages are strong do better in school, regardless of IQ.

There I go again — idealizing common sense.

Family psychologist John Rosemond answers parents’ questions on his website at www.rosemond.com.

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