What if the progressive parenting methods you've been told are best, are actually causing a decline in child mental health? Join me, John Rosemond, as I recount my personal journey from an ardent believer in democratic parenting, to a concerned father witnessing the unexpected impacts of these approaches on my son, Eric. It's a story that I promise will make you question everything you thought you knew about parenting.ParentGuru: Better Parenting Starts Here
Hello and welcome back or welcome, as the case may be to another exciting episode of Because I Said so, I'm your host, john Rosemann. This is the only podcast on the entire World Wide Web where you will hear the truth about psychology, the mental health professions in general, children and parenting. That's what it's called these days parenting. Today's exciting episode is titled how I Became John Rosemann, and it is the story of how I got to the point where I am doing what I am doing today. It started with brainwashing. I went through brainwashing in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The brainwashing in question occurred while I was incarcerated, with my consent, in graduate school, learning how to be a proper psychologist. The program I was in focused on child psychology. It was there, western Illinois University, that I learned that the old way of raising children was evil and damaged the psyches of children, and because, to that point, all children had been raised the old way. The old way also damaged the entirety of mankind, except, of course, in those few cultures that were still stuck in the Stone Age. Graduates school I learned that, in order to remedy the problem, the autocratic family, the family in which parents ran the show, needed to be replaced with the democratic family in which children had an equal voice in making family decisions. Graduates school I learned that parent authority was a bad thing and that wonderful relationships between parents and children, as if they were peers, was the new ideal. In graduate school, I learned that punishment was bad, that children could and should be reasoned with. In graduate school, I learned that children threw tantrums because things were wrong in their lives that needed to be identified and corrected. In graduate school, I learned that disobedience happened because parents were unwilling to share power with their kids. I learned that the family should be child centered. I learned that children should have a say in what chores they did around the home and that they should definitely be paid for doing those chores. But the most important thing I learned was that, above all else, children needed to feel good about themselves. They needed to have something called high esteem for themselves. I learned that high self-esteem was a child's right, because high self-esteem guaranteed positive mental health. And so I learned that adults should do all in their power to boost the self-esteem of children, which they could do by lavishly praising children and making sure children succeeded at whatever they attempted. What I didn't learn because no one knew at the time was that these innovations in child-ruring would coincide with a tenfold deterioration of child mental health in America. Another thing I didn't learn was that the blah, blah, blah about high self-esteem was lies. It was all lies and nothing but lies. We now know, based on good research done by dispassionate social scientists, that high self-esteem doesn't lead to good mental health. It leads to manipulative and even abusive behavior. It leads to antisocial behavior. It leads to lots of mental health problems which people with high self-esteem blame on other people because their high self-esteem prevents them from seeing that their problems are of their own making. My wife Wilma, whom I renamed Willie when I met her, she and I were married when I was a senior in college. Our first child, eric, was born in 1969. The year I entered graduate school. At the time I believed in psychology. I thought psychology was going to make the world a better place and so, needless to say, willie and I began raising Eric according to the new child-rearing psychology, because it represented a radical departure from the old way of raising children, now demonized. They even gave it a new name parenting. Willie and I were raised to the old-fashioned way, instead of doing what our parents had done, and even though we had both turned out reasonably well. We brought Eric home from the hospital and said about parenting him. We put him at the center of our tension. As soon as he began talking, we began asking him to help us make decisions. When he threw tantrums, we thought it was because we were doing something wrong. So he gave in to his tantrums. And his tantrums got worse and worse and worse Because we asked his opinion about virtually everything. He got the impression we were equals and so he refused to obey us. You don't obey an equal. The first word Eric learned was no, no, he didn't want to eat that. No, he didn't want to wear that. No, he didn't want to do that. No, he didn't want anything we wanted…. He wanted everything to go his way and if we didn't cooperate he made our lives a living hell. Hell is a biblical word, by the way. It's found in the Bible numerous times. So please don't shut your radio off or your laptop because I've just used a biblical word. So fast forward to January 1979. Eric is ten, in the third grade. Up to that point, he had attended a very progressive school called an open school. When you walked into Eric's open school, it was like walking in on a mob scene. You couldn't tell one class from another because there were no walls. There were no desks either. There were no tables. Teachers weren't teaching in the old-fashioned sense of the term. They walked around telling children that what they were doing no matter what they were doing, even if they were doing nothing was wonderful. It was an ideal place for Eric because he could do exactly what he wanted to do. Between Eric's second and third grades in school, we moved into a new school district that wasn't progressive. The school Eric began to attend was like the school I had attended when I was a kid. The children sat at desks, lined up in rows. The teachers stood before their classes and taught. Children were expected to pay attention and do what they were told. Eric didn't like his new school and he let his teacher miss his steward. No. So Mrs Steward, a very intelligent, rational, no-nonsense sort of person, called Willie and me in for a conference in January of that school year. She promptly told us she wasn't going to promote Eric to the fourth grade at the end of the year. He was going to stay with her another year. He shouldn't have been promoted to the third grade, she said, and she wasn't going to make the mistake the second grade teacher had made. Willie and I were, needless to say, shocked. What's the problem, we asked. Well, mrs Steward said for one thing, eric came to third grade reading a year behind grade level and now in January, halfway into the school year, he was reading one-and-one-half years behind grade. In other words, he'd made zero progress since the beginning of the year, mrs Steward told us. She said I've been teaching children to read for twenty years, mr and Mrs Roseman. I know how to teach children to read, but I cannot teach a child who won't pay attention and do what I tell him to do. Which brought her to the second reason she wasn't going to promote Eric to the fourth grade. Your son, mrs Steward told us, is the worst behave child I've encountered in twenty years of teaching. He's disobedient, disrespectful, throws tantrums in the classroom and on the playground when things don't go his way and argues with me about everything. Yep, sounded familiar because that's what Eric was doing at home too. And, by the way, of significance is the fact that when we had that conversation with Mrs Steward, my column on raising children was appearing in some five hundred newspapers across the United States of America. I was already a parenting rock star. I was telling millions of people how to raise their kids, and my kid was completely out of control. What exactly was I telling people? I was telling them to do what I had learned in graduate school. That's what I mean. I was like the typhoid Mary of progressive parenting, spreading its toxins far and wide. Anyway, willie and I went home and started talking. We talked for three days. The topic of our conversation amounted to a question, and the question was how did two responsible and reasonably intelligent people come to be raising such a train wreck of a child? And the answer to our question was we had not done what our parents had done. We had trashed thousands of years of understandings concerning children and child-rearing. We had done what people with capital letters after their names and their heads in the clouds of theory had told us to do. And so Willie and I decided January of 1979, to turn our child-rearing compass back to the 1950s, the decade during which we had been raised. And from that point on, whenever a problem arose with Eric or his sister Amy, we simply asked ourselves how would our parents have dealt with this? How would they have done? And that's what we did. Three months went by. In April we had a second meeting with Mrs Stewart. She began the meeting by saying and I remember her words very clearly I don't know what you're doing, mr and Mrs Rosemond, but keep on doing it. I feel like I've witnessed a miracle over the last few months. Eric is reading at grade level and his behavior has turned 180 degrees. It was very sudden, actually, three days after our last meeting he was a completely different child. He went in three days from being the worst-behaved child I had ever seen to being one of the top three most well-behaved children I've ever seen. He gets his work done on time, asks for more. He does everything I tell him to do, without hesitation. He never argues with me. The tantrums have completely stopped. I don't know what to say except that if Eric continues on this track, I will promote him to the fourth grade. And she did, and by the end of grade four Eric was a straight A student. Well, what happened between January and April of 1979? First, let me tell you what didn't happen. Tutoring didn't happen, accommodations didn't happen, medication didn't happen, counseling didn't happen, and Willie and I stopped completely. We stopped asking Eric if he had homework, we stopped checking it. We stopped making sure it was done. We told Eric, three days after that auspicious January 1979 meeting, exactly what Mrs Stewart had told us, exactly. And we told him we are no longer giving you any help with your homework. We've been helping you with your homework for two and a half years now. We're not doing it anymore. It's obviously not helped. We're not answering a question about your homework. We're not going to show you how to do a math problem. We're not going to clarify directions for you, we're not going to even define a word. You're doing nothing to help you get to the fourth grade. We believe, eric, that you can figure out how to get to the fourth grade on your own. And if you want to get there, bad enough, figure it out and get there. He looked at us as though we'd hit him upside the head with a baseball bat. Dad, mom, how am I going to get to the fourth grade if you don't help me? And I said, eric, the fact of the matter is, if we have to help you get to the fourth grade, then you shouldn't be there. And three months later he was going to the fourth grade on his own merit, mind you, in January, at the time of that first meeting with Mrs Stewart, eric qualified for four diagnoses Tension deficit hyperactivity disorder, otherwise known as ADHD Scale 1 to 10, 10. Oppositional defiant disorder, otherwise known as ODD Scale 1 to 10, 10. Bipolar disorder of childhood scale 1 to 10, 10. And a learning disability scale 1 to 10, 7. And rising. And three months later, no tutoring, no accommodations, no counseling, no medication, no therapy. Eric qualified for no diagnosis at all and I realized from that experience that everything I had learned in graduate school and I mean everything, everything I had been told about children and their problems was 100% wrong. I learned that the profession of psychology and the mental health professions in total were lying to parents. They were telling parents things that simply were not true, things they were making up. They were telling parents that the sort of problems Eric had were due to genetically transmitted biochemical imbalances and brain based glitches. Not true. Not true then, and still not true. I learned that the old way of raising children, despite being as old as the hills, was vastly superior to the new way, the progressive way, the untested way. I learned what I needed to learn to do what I'm doing today. When Eric was in his 20s, married with children, he walked in on an interview one day that I was doing with a reporter from the New York Times. When I introduced him, eric took the reporter's hand and said Hi, I'm Eric, my father's career. Truer words and all that and that's a wrap. Folks have been listening to because I said so Once again the only podcast on the entire worldwide web where you will hear the truth about the mental health professions, children and child ring and folks. I hope you join us next week. I'm glad you joined us this week. Please tell all your friends about us and in the meantime, keep on rocking in the free world, because if we don't rock it, we may lose it. Thanks again, have a great day.