Friday, October 06, 2000

Parenting poll

Just in case you were starting to feel like you had a handle on handling your kids, a new survey confirms once again that parents don’t know how to parent.

Funded by the nonprofit child-development organization (since when is child development organized?) Zero to Three, the nonprofit group Civitas, and the toymaker Brio Corp., the survey checked in with 3,000 parents, over a thousand with children six and under. The sponsoring organizations were shocked, shocked by the findings:

* Spanking was an accepted form of punishment for more than 60 percent of the parents polled. Babies and toddlers were not immune.

* Nearly 60 percent felt spoiling could start early, so wouldn’t indulge even a six-month-old child.

* Many parents were unrealistic in their expectations of developmentally appropriate behavior, punishing their children for doing things that they should not be expected to do yet.

A concerned Dr. Kyle Pruett, professor of psychiatry at Yale University’s Child Study Center and president of Zero to Three, told the Associated Press "We're potentially raising overly aggressive children who react to situations with intimidation and bullying, instead of cooperation and understanding; children who won't be able to tolerate frustration, wait their turn or respect the needs of others.”

Yet you can go to any monster-mega-bookstore in any monster-mega-mall in America and find books that will tell you that, indeed, the above parenting practices are perfectly sound, and if you don’t do them, you will be raising, well, just about exactly the same type of child Pruett describes above.

What we need here, more than polls, is consensus. Perhaps these organizations with spare change for surveys could get together and hammer out one parenting technique that will work with all children and meet the approval of all parents, grandparents, teachers, doctors, and casual observers. It should work for all kids, with all different personalities and challenges and neurological makeups. It should create model citizens who will be respectful, obedient, and good to their parents. And it should be simple to understand and implement.

Now that would be a public service. And about as easy to do as raising a child in a hypercritical world. I wish them luck.

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