Benevolent, as in patient and loving. Dictator, as in one whose word is law. That defines the role parents should occupy.ParentGuru: Better Parenting Starts Here
You got yourself some children. They all be running wild. They keep you up all night long. You better turn on your radio. I love to John Roseman show because I said so. Hello and welcome. We're welcome back, as the case may be to, because I, john Roseman your host, because I said so. Yes, this is the one and only soul podcast on the entire worldwide web where you will hear the truth about psychology and the mental health professions in America from a psychologist and I'm sure you know who is licensed by the North Carolina psychology board who regrets the day they ever gave me a license. If you're a returning listener, you already know that and you know why that is. If you're a brand new listener, you will find out the information. You can go to either of my websites John Roseman dot com or parent guru dot com, and I also have a weekly sub stack that you can find at sub stack dot com. All of it's fascinating, of course, when, in the early years of my career as parent guru to the stars, as I began coming to grips with the realities of a child's nature and the need for firm discipline, I coined the term benevolent dictator or dictatorship to describe the ideal parent attitude. Well, perhaps I was not the first person to use the term, but I was certainly the first person to use the term in a child rearing context. Children needed parents, caregivers who were benevolent dictators. I said as often as I could be heard through my nationally syndicated newspaper column, my talks, later my books loving authority figures I'm talking about who enforced their instructions and their rules, who meant exactly what they said and stood ready to enforce what they said. Well, this was the late 1970s, early 80s. Psychological parenting propaganda filled the air, fill the airways and fill the shelves of bookstores. It also filled the heads of parents, teachers and even pediatricians. Two fantasies formed the centerpiece of this propaganda. By the way, you're hearing my dog bark. If you occasionally, during this podcast, hear a dog bark, it is my dog. And my dog is a toy schnauzer seven and a half approximately on any given day. Schnauzer and her name is Hannah and she is a little over two years old and she is a puppy, as are all schnauzers until they're about five or six, and the small ones, that is, the small ones, the minis and the miniatures and the micros and the toys. But anyway, my only alternative is to lock Hannah behind a door. What I do, this podcast, and I just am not going to do that. So occasionally you may hear Hannah bark. She identifies as a Doberman pincher and believes that her job is to protect us. So it's just the way it is. Anyway, two fantasies form the center of this psychological parenting propaganda, the first being the children were inherently good. Cue the laugh track, please. Secondly, that even young children could be reasoned with. Again, cue the laugh track. I was fighting city hall. I was swimming against a rising tide, I was trying to stop a flood, the fly swatter around. This same time I spoke at a preschool in Charlotte, north Carolina, and brought the parents gathered there the good news the benevolent dictatorship. Afterwards, the director of the preschool informed me that she, had she known, had she known, had I known, john, that I was going to tell parents to lord it over their children, she would not have invited me into her territory. Had I told parents to lord it over their children? No, I had not, at least not in the sense in which she meant it. I had told them to insist upon obedience from their children. Research had already shown that obedience and happiness went hand in hand, and the more obedient the child, the higher the child scored on scales of self-contentment. And certainly, by the way, obedient children are a blessing to their parents, by the way. They are a blessing to their parents, but you should want your child to be obedient, not because it makes your job easier, but because obedience is in your child's best interest. A person who willingly submits to legitimate authority no matter how old the person is or the nature of the authority in question whether it's military, corporate, educational or the authority of a parent a person who willingly submits to legitimate authority is much better off. Oh, I should include God in that list. A person who willingly submits to legitimate authority corporate, military, educational, parental, god is much better off in every respect than a person who does not. We even have words for people who refuse to submit to legitimate authority. The sociopath is one of them. In another sense, however, I HAD told the parents of that preschool to Lord it over their children. Indeed, parents should act like lords of the manner. You've probably seen Downton Abbey. You've seen how the Lord of the manner, lord Robert Crawley Lord Robert Crawley is portrayed as a raving lunatic who beats his household staff with a cane if they do not please him. Charles Dickens has been dead for over a hundred years. Folks, lord Crawley is compassionate, understanding, patient and all those sorts of good things, but he expects his staff to do what is expected of them, without being micromanaged, and no less. And that pretty much describes a good parent. He or she is compassionate, understanding, patient, etc. But also expects his children, her children, to do what is expected of them and do it properly, and no less. And folks, that defines a benevolent dictator. That Charlotte preschool director had her head in the clouds when it came to children, as unfortunately many preschool people do. She idealized children. She regarded them romantically. She was convinced the children were good by nature and that they only did bad things because they didn't know any better. Hear the laugh track, please. My message to her parent community that fateful evening grated against her fantasies, and when she approached me afterwards she was on the edge of being furious. John, had I known that you were going to come here and tell my parents to be to lord it over their children, I would not have invited you here. Okay, alright, I'm sorry to be the bearer of bad tidings, folks, but children are not good by nature. Human beings are not good by nature. They are not good congenitally. They do not come into the world, you know, with little halos above their heads. I'm going to prove that to you in one short sentence. One Count it. Here it is. You do not have to teach a child to be bad. You do not have to teach a child to be bad. Bad comes naturally to a child, because human beings are bad by virtue of their nature. They are inherently, congenitally, from the get-go, bad. You must teach a child to be good. In fact, you must first force a child to stop being bad before you can teach the child to be good. And when I use the term force folks, it's another word that the parenting left just abhors. It drives them up a wall. Force, that's the truth. You have to force a child to stop being bad before you can teach the child to be good. But I'm not talking about spankings or any other sort of physical stuff. You have to force with the force of your personality and the force of your commitment to the child and the force of your purposefulness in this child's life and the force of your confidence in the legitimacy of your authority. You must force a child to stop being bad before you can teach the child to be good. Well, the Charlotte Preschool Director and people like her think that in saying such things about children, the truth about children, that is, I reveal that I do not like children. No, that's the way those people think. If I think children are bad by nature, I must not like them. That's how they think, which is I hope I don't really need to say this. That's absolutely absurd, that if I think children are bad by nature, I don't like them. Well, I don't like some of the things they do, and some children are more unlikable than others, but as a group I do not dislike children. I yep, I mean it almost sounds trite. I like children. I mean, even that sounds trite and absurd, but I do. I like children, I like being around them. You know, goofing around with them, because they're goofy, and yours truly is kind of goofy at the age of 76. I've been goofy all my life and, as the inimitable Van Morrison has said, it's too late to stop now. Well, back to children in misbehavior and proper discipline. It is a mistake, and a big one at that, to allow a child to get away with bad behavior. Letting a child get away with bad behavior, making excuses for him like, oh, he's only two or? Oh, he didn't really mean. It is like kicking a snowball downhill. Yes, children are impulsive, but when they do bad things it's not an accident, it's purposeful. And if you don't understand that, then you're going to kick a snowball downhill and the snowball will quickly become an avalanche. You have to nip bad behavior in the bud. Your great-grandmother said that it was the truth. You must let a child know Early on bad behavior won't be tolerated. I'm not talking about jumping up and down, screaming and yelling that person, that sort of parents a nutcase, by the way. I've been there, done that Many, many years ago. Many, many years ago. I let the frustration of my children's misbehavior get to me at times and I would jump up and down and act like a maniac. But then I realized no, I have to be the adult in the room and please, please, don't tell me. I have so many women. They come up to me and they go John, I'm a Yeller, you're a Yeller. What does that mean? I mean, like you have some yelling gene, you know some yelling biochemical, you need a pill because you're yelling. What does that mean? You're not a Yeller. It's resolved to be the adult in the room. You have to let a child know misbehavior won't be tolerated, much less ignored. That's what the mental health community in America. They started saying in the late 60s I was in grad school oh, just ignore bad behavior, it'll stop. No, it won't. No, it won't. And furthermore, it can't be ignored. It's annoying, it sometimes is infuriating. But although it's annoying and infuriating, you must not act like it is annoying and infuriating, must act like the adult in the room and you must do so with calm determination. For more on all that, I recommend yes, this is a disgraceful self-promotion I recommend the well-behaved child by yours truly. It's a book that's chock-full of ways to let a child know that misbehavior will not be allowed, and it is on sale at my website, parentguru or JohnRosemancom, one of the other. Both of them the younger a child realizes, in other words, the younger a child is when he realizes that you're not going to tolerate bad behavior, the better for all concerned, child included. Allow me to give an analogy. You don't let a six-month-old puppy pee in your house and say and do nothing, do you? No, I mean, I'm going to describe to you how we, my wife and I, house-trained Hannah in, you know, three or four days. No, you don't let a six-month-old puppy pee in your house and say and do nothing. Actually, you don't let a four-month-old puppy do that. You don't let a three-month-old puppy do it. You let the three-month-old puppy know Peeing in the house will not be tolerated. You don't have to beat the puppy, jump up and down and scream, act like a lunatic. All you need to do is calmly bring the puppy to the scene of the crime and say no in a firm voice. Then take the puppy to the back door, go outside with him, wait until he pees and praise him for it. Several repetitions of that and the puppy, three months old gets it. Folks, human children, are smarter than puppies. The problem, however, is that puppies do not harbor a rebellious spirit and human beings do the battle cry of the young human being. The terrible two is you can't tell me what to do or you're not the boss of me. I tried to make that sound as demonic as I could, and so, whereas the puppy gets it in a few days, the human child is likely to fight it. You've got to win that battle. You've got to win it from the beginning, and you can't win it if you're jumping up and down, screaming and acting like a lunatic. You win the battle by being confident, calm, purposeful. Most of the parents I end up talking with about behavior problems they're having with their kids tell me they did not win those battles. From the very beginning they jumped up and down and acted like lunatics and accomplished nothing, or they made excuses for their children like he's only two and he really didn't mean it, and the snowball grew into an avalanche and everyone in the family, by the time the parents come to me, is caught up in the avalanche in one way, shape or form, and they want me to get them out. Over the years I've gotten pretty good, in fact, at helping people extract themselves from avalanches of that sort, but the pain of getting caught up in an avalanche of that sort could have been avoided had the parents simply understood that if you give a human child an inch, the inch becomes a mile in no time at all and at that point the child is off and running and all bets are off. That, folks, is a wrap. You've been listening to, because I said so with your host, john Roseman. Look up my sub-stack, look up my what do they call them? Websites and folks above all else. Oh, please, please, if you enjoyed this and I hope you did, because I did, and if I do, then there is an increased likelihood that you will, of course, if I don't, the opposite is true. Anyway, please tell your friends and join us again and, in the meantime, keep on rockin' in the free world, because, folks, if we don't keep rockin' it, we're in grave danger of losing it. Merry Christmas y'all.