Dartmouth Medical School has published the results of research concerning parental influence upon children’s behavior in the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Lo and behold: Parents’ “preaching” works! Their lectures have a “positive impact” on teenage behaviors such as smoking and drug use—even when parents themselves engage in such activities.
Similar findings are cited by the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, among others. Analysts even go so far as to say that straightforward messages and high expectations of parents actually blunt the effects of peer pressure.
“We overrate the rebelliousness of teenagers. . . . Parents underestimate their influence on their children,” reported Dr. James Sargent, associate professor of pediatrics at Dartmouth Medical School. “[Parents] have an overly heightened concern about coming down hard on their kids.”
Well, of course they do. After 40 years of being inundated with admonitions from child psychologists against “preaching” (“kids won’t listen”), about children being “decision makers” (“let them discover their own values”), and citing the disadvantages of moralizing (“teens will do it anyway”), parents have concluded their wisdom is more destructive than helpful. Heaven help the parent who says “no” to peer activities deemed inconsistent with his youngster’s maturity level. Overprotective, you see . . .
For four decades, parents have been treated as well-intentioned nincompoops lacking behavioral-science degrees; now, suddenly, they are supposed to exercise their prerogatives, set standards, and administer “tough love.”
Did you happen to catch the new public service ads on TV by the Drug-Free Schools bunch? A prepubescent youngster tells adult viewers: “I’m going to fight you. In a few years you won’t even know me. You have to be the adult.” I bet our grandparents wouldn’t have heard such talk in their day.
Since the 1950’s, when child “experts” started floating malarkey in women’s magazines, parents have gotten nothing but raspberries for exercising common sense. When I was an education major, my professor in educational psychology told us outright that “there’s no such thing as common sense.”
Today, school counselors are still intimidating parents who exercise adult judgment. And they can do a whole lot more than deliver verbal raspberries. They can take children away from good homes through Child Protective Service agencies, require genital exams for 11-year-olds on school property, and instigate lawsuits on a child’s behalf if disciplinary measures are deemed “excessive.” Any credentialed teacher or counselor has more legal influence than a child’s family.
It is small wonder that parents live in fear, not only of their own children, but of school authorities and social workers. Almost anything can trigger a knock on the door by agents of the state serving up frivolous accusations of child abuse—which are never purged from permanent records even when a parent is exonerated. Parents spend precious hours countering baseless charges and thwarting reckless school activities that undercut their values.
Peruse any bookstore; what do you see? Shelves of “parenting” (not child-rearing) books, spouting mostly hogwash, by “experts” sporting Ph.D.s. The latest revelation? From the American Psychological Association: Adult-child sex is not harmful if it is consensual.
This wisdom, however, doesn’t exactly square with the mission of colleagues in the social-work industry who aggressively incite charges of child sexual abuse. They get schools to disseminate provocative questionnaires, scrutinize students’ “personal journals” (read: diaries), and pass off encounter sessions as substantive curriculum—all to ferret out anything that might be construed as sexual abuse.
Ironically, the “Me Generation” is the primary recipient of the news flash from Dartmouth Medical School. As first-wave products of experts’ asinine advice, we might well wonder how many of our progeny would have been spared addiction, unwanted pregnancies, AIDS, and criminal records had we been the adults our grandparents were, folks who demonstrated the courage of their convictions.
Meanwhile, the mental-health industry is busy concocting new “diseases,” hawking psychiatric drugs and behavioral-screening instruments, and rushing to the scene of every tragedy with mandates for mental-health counseling. Psychologists are now fixtures in the schools, the courts, the workplace, even many churches, intimidating these institutions to buy their wares.
What does society have to show for this crusade against parental authority? Classrooms filled with out-of-control, disrespectful, and dangerous kids; hordes of “rehabilitated” killers scouting neighborhoods for more victims; babies tossed in dumpsters; epidemic sexual diseases; roving gangs of fatherless children.
Now Dartmouth tells us that parents have clout. Gee, thanks for nothing.