Family Doctor: Lack of Parental Authority to Blame for Childhood Obesity, Anxiety, ADD, Disresepect
Family physician, psychologist and author Leonard Sax has a message for all moms and dads: You are doing it wrong. He addresses the problems parents are left with when they do not teach their kids how to submit to authority in his new book, The Collapse of Parenting: How We Hurt Our Kids When We Treat Them Like Grown-Ups.
The root of the problem is that “Some parenting experts told adults that they should offer their children choices instead of telling them what to do and parents believed them,” according to Sax. He recounts administering a strep test to a 6-year-old. The doctor told the child what was about to happen and the mother stopped to ask her child for permission to look at the child’s throat. Chaos ensued, the child threw a fit, several health professionals were called in to help restrain the youngster and a simple procedure that should have taken ten seconds turned into an ordeal. Sax’s response: “It’s not a question. It’s a sentence: ‘Open up and say, 'Ahh.' Parents are incapable of speaking to their children in a sentence that ends in a period… Every sentence ends in a question mark.”
Our culture has shifted from children understanding their places—and parents knowing their roles—to a homogenous, politically correct think tank that experiments with each new generation. We keep changing the rules, hoping to eventually get it right, running endless tests to see if we have the results “the experts” want. When moms and dads step down from their responsibility to parent their children, our society is in trouble. Sax refers to an abundance of research showing the negative effects of this shift, including rises in childhood obesity, anxiety, attention deficit disorder, disrespect, and America no longer leading the way in worldwide education.
Parents perpetuate the problem when we do not teach our offspring to submit to authority. While Sax offers up some everyday practices to reverse this problem, I think this issue is going to require a systemic shift in childrearing philosophy. We have to change our thinking if we want to change the thinking of our children. When we model submission, we teach them to yield to the authority figures in their own lives.
See next page for 5 ways you can model submission to your kids: