By Kathy Schmugge
COLUMBIA — Through entertaining lectures held Oct. 15 at St. Joseph’s gymnasium, John Rosemond, Ph.D., popular syndicated columnist, author, child psychologist and international speaker went through Columbia like a tornado uprooting common myths and mistakes that cripple the effective parenting and teaching of children.
The five area Catholic schools sponsored the events that included an in-service for principals, an in-service for teachers and a talk in the evening for parents. The principals were present at all three talks so they could see everyone was on the same page.
“He has some remarkable insights into adult and child behaviors, and he gave the listeners an opportunity to hear an approach that has been successful for him in his practice,” said Madeline McMillion, principal of St. Peter School in Columbia.
“John Rosemond speaks of the home and parental influence we all remember, talk about, and keep as a special part of our memory,” said Sister Christina Murphy, a School Sister of Notre Dame, and principal of St. Joseph School.
He addressed techniques in the classroom with an emphasis on discipline; he covered administrative aspects and shared parenting pointers. Throughout the lectures, a smiling Rosemond gave humorous anecdotes of unmanageable children who successfully turned around, giving hope to the most exasperated parents and teachers.
“For everything there is a season, and a time for everything under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die …” (Eccl 3:1) he said using the quote to set the stage for his parent talk titled, “Parenting by the Seasons.”
The four major “seasons” of parenting according to Rosemond are Season One: the season of service from 0 to age 2; Season Two: the season of leadership and authority, 3 to 13; Season Three: the season of mentoring, 14 to 18 and the last season is that of friendship.
“Only behaviors in Season One work for Season One,” said Rosemond. He said that when a mother stays in this season of service, where she orbits around the child, past 2, the child will become an obnoxious, narcissistic, spoiled brat who thinks the whole world should revolve around him.
“But we do not allow mothers of today to graduate out of the season of service and claim their authority over the child because we say the best mom is the mother who does the most for her children and pays the most attention to them,” he said. He explained that this over-preoccupation makes the parent an enabler.
After giving a realistic portrayal of today’s busy mom who is “doing, fixing, scheduling, driving, volunteering …,” he challenges parents to stop competing with each other to see who can be the busiest and get “the bumper sticker.”
“In 1950 parents were not seeking status through their children,” Rosemond pointed out, citing examples like the abhorrent behavior of parents who fight with each other during their children’s sporting events to the parental obsession with the child’s academic performance.
In the talk, he also reminded the audience that he was addressing the norms, recognizing that there are always exceptions. His talk was mostly geared to the mothers because regardless of their working status, they usually are the ones most responsible for the child’s daily routine. He described the initial dad’s role as a “parenting aid, a role that should develop into more as the child grows.”
He said a parent today is more likely to listen to a 35-year-old child psychologist with one child who plants a “psychological boogeyman” in their lives, than the time-tested advice of the 78-year-old woman down the street who successfully raised a large family. Rosemond, a parent of grown children, grandparent and doctor said that no one would be listening to him or reading his column, if he did not have “capital letters” after his name.
He challenged with convincing scientific research, that artificial promotion of self-esteem in children is not productive; citing that the children who perform the lowest on national testing have, in the most case, the highest reported self-esteem. Researchers have also tested people in prison, surprised to find that most criminals have high self-esteem.
“There is also absolutely no scriptural support that it is good for a human being to think highly of them. Jesus did not say in the beatitudes that those who think highly of themselves would inherit the earth or that those who exult themselves would be more exulted,” he said clarifying that the exulted will be humbled and good parenting will produce humility. A humble person, according to Rosemond will have good manners and will listen to their parents.
Another major point he made was the importance of communication and its relationship with good discipline. He said good leaders are good communicators. Parents, who should lead the family, must be able to communicate the rules in a clear and concise manner. If a child does not obey, disciplinary action must consistently take place although methods can creatively be changed so that it is “compelling not just annoying.” If not done or not compelling enough, according to Rosemond, the parent sets the stage for repeat misbehavior.
He concluded that just as Scripture speaks of fearing the Lord, so fear and respect of a parent who loves their child so much that they would lay down their lives for that child, is a good thing.
“I believe that any one of you can go and change the parenting problems in your house. My prayer is that we stop letting our children run our lives and come home tonight and say two words. ‘It’s over.'” As he ended, he received an explosive applause from a very attentive audience.