By William Hageman, Tribune Newspapers
November 28, 2012
From the title alone, you can probably guess that John Rosemond's new book, "Parent-Babble: How Parents Can Recover from Fifty Years of Bad Expert Advice" (Andrews McMeel Publishing), isn't going to bring deafening cheers from the psychological community.
He doesn't care; he's more interested in getting a message out.
"I've been somewhat of an iconoclast for some time now," said Rosemond, who has been a licensed family psychologist for 40 years but these days devotes his time to writing, lecturing and generally stirring things up.
Rosemond believes that the changing society of the 1960s, when old methods were challenged and often rejected, led to a breakdown in parenting.
As a result, kids today, Rosemond says, are ill-behaved, impolite, beset with emotional problems and not as happy as kids were back in the 1950s. They're a mess.
"I realized in the late '70s, early '80s that a, psychological teaching was inadequate to explain human behavior, and b, a lot of theories proposed at that time were unsupported by research," he said recently from California, where he was speaking to several parents groups.
Rosemond's solution is a return to the child-raising strategies of 50 years ago. That's not what the authors of hundreds of contemporary "how to raise your kids" books might have in mind.
"Parenting books are a tremendously lucrative enterprise for publishers because of these neuroses that have been instilled in female parents," Rosemond said. "These books continuously raise the bar for parents."
He said that tried-and-true parenting methods are the answer. Society's willingness to try something new and unproven has failed, as evidenced in what he said is the unraveling of longtime values.
"Times always change with every generation," Rosemond said. "Every generation has brought innovation into civilization. The argument that we have to change is specious. ... when we became a fully fledged postmodern progressive culture, all that changed, in the 1960s."
What went wrong? And can 21st century society turn back the clock to 1955?
"You have to separate wheat from the chaff, which we didn't do," Rosemond said. "We embraced everything. We bought into the notion that we had to completely change the way to raise our children. No culture had ever done that before. People need to hold onto proven child-rearing principles in changing times.
"What I say in the book is we are not better off. These fundamental principles work — it doesn't matter if you use a cellphone or a landline, or if you drive the latest high-tech car or a 1960 Volkswagen. These principles work."
Two questions for John Rosemond
Q: New parents are always looking for answers. Where do they find them? Talking to others? Reading books?
A: Today's parents, moms especially, have become thoroughly confused by all the reading they do. Most of the mainstream parenting advice is contradictory, confusing and in many if not most cases, just downright bad. I think the best sources of advice are other parents who seem to be getting good results and older folks who possess the wisdom of experience.
Q: Are there one or two books you'd recommend for parents?
A: The only other author I recommend is Kevin Leman. Although he's a psychologist, he's a very practical guy with both feet on the ground.
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