May 1, 2009

Four Things Not To Do To Your Kids

Apart from letting them watch Japanese horror movies.

John Gottman, from the University of Washington, has a "marriage lab"  in which he videotaped/s married couples disagreeing about something minor, in order to study predictors of divorce. He came up with four.

You might think they're obvious, but if you actually try to avoid them during an argument, it's harder than you think.  Try it.

It then occurred to me that these often some of the same reasons why some kids "hate" their parents. Again, you'll think it's obvious; but again, try to avoid it when talking to your kids.

Disclaimer for the sensitive: the below are inflated examples; these are done to varying degrees, of course, sometimes it's unavoidable, etc, etc.

Criticism: 

The most difficult to avoid.  Parents may not realize how a majority of their interactions with their kids are comprised entirely of criticisms.

"Did you put away your backpack?" means "I know you didn't put away the backpack."  It's worse when mom doesn't even bother to check, she just knows it.  That drives kids bananas.  "What is it about me that you just assume I don't do anything right?"  What it is, of course, is history-- he hasn't done it the past 20 times.  Kids are empiricists though not statisticians. Past doesn't count: if you don't check now, then you can't know now. 

The kid thinks, mom just assumes I do things wrong.  Ultimately, this means he stops trying.

It teaches one other awesome message: it doesn't actually matter what I do, only what people think of me.


Stonewalling:

Stonewalling means: "I am not going to discuss this with you." It means the kid has no say, no voice, there's no one to appeal to, even logic.   When a kid doesn't feel people will seriously consider their position, they'll go find someone else who will.  That person will have weed.

Stonewalling teaches kids that those who have more power simply don't care to hear you.  So they avoid the attempts at dialogue and try... alternative means of communication, e.g. not through words, but actions or the creation of emotions. And weed. 

Defensiveness:

NB: this is done by the parent

In a marriage, defensiveness takes the form, "hey, don't blame me, you're the one who told me to do this."  But you can't look at that defense and deduce who is actually at fault.

But when a parent does it to a kid:

1. the kid is criticizing the parent.
2..the parent is actually in the wrong, caught by the kid; 
3. the kid has latched on to this single instance of parental wrongdoing to unload all of their  pent up hostility, in the form of criticism about this single issue.

And so, the parent, defensively, tries to flip it: "the only reason I did that is because you...."  That's disaster. 

Kid: you always break your promises!
Parent: no I don't, but if you would just give me a moment to myself, I would have been able to...

Kid: you lied to me!
Parent: I didn't lie, but you were going to X, so I had to Y-- if you hadn't done X, I wouldn't have had to Y.

The kid understands that even when he is right, no one will care.  He realizes he'll be used as a scapegoat, forever, by those more powerful than he.  Now where's that weed?

Contempt:

It is said (by me) that rolling the eyes is a more reliable way to divorce than recording yourself cheating and then asking your wife to pull some highlights clips.  Seriously, this is true.   Anyone want to fund a clinical trial?

Why is the toy store a reliable place to hear a parent screaming at a kid?  It's a toy store, what did you expect he'd want to do there?

I sense your frustration.  It's the same frustration you have with the toll booth operator who can't count the money correctly, you think, "what an idiot!" but you don't think it through: you expect the toll booth guy to function at the same intellectual level as an engineer.  Is that reasonable?  If he was smarter, he wouldn't be working in a toll booth.

Yet frustration is released on the kid as contempt: the speaking with disgust, the sneering.    "Jesus Christ, what is the matter with you?  Are you retarded?  Is this what you do in school, too?  No wonder you can't read."  You don't see you do it, because you think it's a brief interaction out of your day.  But the kid feels the full force of it, and it represents a significant minority of the interactions he has with you.  "I'm going to beat the crap out of you!" even though you've never actually done it.  The kid knows you're not actually going to hit him, so he figures, "this nut hates me."

If you roll your lips inwards while you yell at your kid, you're pissed at him.  If you find yourself jutting out your bottom jaw, you hate him.

I know, I'm sure you don't hate your kid, but like I've said a thousand times, you don't get to decide who you are, your actions decide.  If the kid, most of the time, hears contempt, then you hate your kid.


Go ahead.  Write on a piece of paper the tone of every interaction you have with your kid for one day, and tally it up at the end of the day.

Have a good night.  Sweet dreams. 



I'm going to add one more of my own:


Ultimatum/Consequences:


You can't say to a four year old, "if you don't put that down, you're not going to watch TV later tonight."  That cannot possibly work, ever-- do you really think the kid can process this consideration of the future, especially since you're not really rigorous about applying it after all?

In truth, you want them to do something only because you want them to-- which is fine.  So say it that way: "Put that down."  That's it.  Teach them they have to do what you say because you said it, period.  Don't subsume your authority to some other power in a reflexive attempt to make things happen: "If you do that again, you're going to your room!"  Now the room has more authority than you do.  And it gives him the opportunity to test: "I'm not afraid of my room."

Instead, say only: "Don't do that again."  And if he does, then send him to his room.

Some things are wrong, regardless of consequences.  The sooner a kid learns he has to behave certain ways not because of anything, but just because, the sooner he'll be able to develop his own superego strength.





Comments

Superb. Simply superb.... (Below threshold)

May 1, 2009 10:22 AM | Posted by abysmal musings: | Reply

Superb. Simply superb.

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can you do a post explainin... (Below threshold)

May 1, 2009 11:01 AM | Posted by mel g: | Reply

can you do a post explaining what good parenting looks like?

Vote up Vote down Report this comment Score: 7 (11 votes cast)
Great post, it would be gre... (Below threshold)

May 1, 2009 11:30 AM | Posted by Americo: | Reply

Great post, it would be great if you did a post about superego strength. Here is a really good article on psychology today: http://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/pto-20041112-000010.html

Vote up Vote down Report this comment Score: -1 (1 votes cast)
What's the difference betwe... (Below threshold)

May 1, 2009 11:44 AM | Posted by mjw: | Reply

What's the difference between "just because" and stonewalling?

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Isn't it "If he *were* smar... (Below threshold)

May 1, 2009 11:50 AM | Posted by Smartass: | Reply

Isn't it "If he *were* smarter, he wouldn't be working in a toll booth."?

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Great one---a far more inte... (Below threshold)

May 1, 2009 12:19 PM | Posted by Shaan: | Reply

Great one---a far more interesting look at parenting than Baurmind's old hat "parenting styles".

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Hey "Smartass", *was* is si... (Below threshold)

May 1, 2009 12:40 PM | Posted by Anon: | Reply

Hey "Smartass", *was* is singular, *were* is plural, so your attempt at humor instead reveals your ignorance of the basic rules of grammar.

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Anon--If I were you, I'd lo... (Below threshold)

May 1, 2009 1:08 PM | Posted by Bob Watson: | Reply

Anon--If I were you, I'd look up "subjunctive" in those basic rules of grammar.

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I would say that you are a ... (Below threshold)

May 1, 2009 1:22 PM | Posted by Andrew Ator: | Reply

I would say that you are a genius, but I'm much too critical of myself to reach any sound conclusion not biased by self-criticism.

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Oh I almost forgot. The Sh... (Below threshold)

May 1, 2009 2:07 PM | Posted by Andrew Ator: | Reply

Oh I almost forgot. The Shinning is probably a much more effective destructive device than Japanese horror films. Most of those just involve a healthy amount of tense violins and quick frame transitions. I defy you to name anything more fundamentally disturbing than an elevator releasing a river of blood and two creepy children of the cornish twin girls that just want to play.

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You shouldn't snuff out a M... (Below threshold)

May 1, 2009 3:06 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

You shouldn't snuff out a Marlboro on their neck, either.

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How should an adult deal wi... (Below threshold)

May 1, 2009 3:18 PM | Posted by Leigh: | Reply

How should an adult deal with parents who continue to use those tactics against their children?

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Duh, passive-aggression. I... (Below threshold)

May 1, 2009 4:57 PM | Posted by Andrew Ator: | Reply

Duh, passive-aggression. It's the easiest solution, and therefor the most obvious and correct.

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My one criticism."... (Below threshold)

May 1, 2009 5:04 PM | Posted by Andrew Ator: | Reply

My one criticism.

"Did you put your backpack away?" all depends on the tonality of the persons voice. It's a tough thing to address with printed words, and I understand your point completely, but yeah, the non-verbal clues are a big part of the potential for that to be a criticism. The contempt part nails it, though.

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[quote] What's the differen... (Below threshold)

May 1, 2009 5:27 PM | Posted, in reply to mjw's comment, by Trei: | Reply

[quote] What's the difference between "just because" and stonewalling?[/quote]

knowing the difference between "right" and "wrong" ("just because")
slavery, sadism, narcissism, and a few others ("stonewalling")

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I'd much less rather see a ... (Below threshold)

May 1, 2009 5:34 PM | Posted by EH: | Reply

I'd much less rather see a "How 2 Parint Gud" article, and instead would like to see the counterpoint of this post: how to undo this shit. Kids can't defend themselves, so the effect of these tactics would seem to always wind up in a therapist's lap (or jail cell, or wherever).

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Sooo.... you looked at expe... (Below threshold)

May 1, 2009 7:02 PM | Posted by Jake: | Reply

Sooo.... you looked at experimentally tested data for married couples and then just decided it would make the leap from marital partner to child? Not sure if you were intentionally making the most Oedipal move ever, or if you think that's sound methodology.

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What, exactly, is your prob... (Below threshold)

May 1, 2009 8:11 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

What, exactly, is your problem with weed? You portray it as something negative and imply it is the worst thing a kid can get into. More and more evidence comes to light each day that proves Marijuana has effective and powerful medicinal properties for both body and mind. Alcohol has none of these redeeming qualities, and many harmful side-effects, yet it's no big deal to crack open a cold one. Lay off the weed bashing, k?

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Overall a great article.</p... (Below threshold)

May 1, 2009 9:20 PM | Posted by Matt: | Reply

Overall a great article.

You seem to have some issues with weed though. Whatever the problem is, I can say with almost certainty that the problem is with another person and not the plant.
Given our culture I'd say you have a higher chance of smoking weed if you had bad parents, but that is because bad parenting often leads to problems with authority and intentional disrespect which would lead them to weed among other things.

Most respectable and responsible pot smokers are conscience of the stereotypes and stigmas. They will try to hide their use. The end result is only the unmotivated and apathetic are outward about their use, leading people to perceive smoking weed as the root of the problem for these people.

Correlation does not imply causation.

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Is this guy serious?? Does ... (Below threshold)

May 1, 2009 11:59 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

Is this guy serious?? Does he REALLY think we believe he doesn't do any of those things that he preached about? This article is angry and sounds like he may have either a) screwed up his own kid really bad and heard a few "I hate you"s or b) screwed up his own marriage worse and heard the same. Blech.

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I think the author brings u... (Below threshold)

May 2, 2009 12:54 AM | Posted by anon: | Reply

I think the author brings up some good points. Unfortunately all the weed hate makes this sound like an after school special with jesus and friends. There's a lot worse things out there than smoking a joint.

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I like weed. I'm fine with ... (Below threshold)

May 2, 2009 1:14 AM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

I like weed. I'm fine with weed. I won't want my kids using it before they're responsible enough to do so. I agree with him on this. I don't think I could ever encourage my kids to smoke weed even if I had nothing against it. I think it's more about being a good model for kids than it is "weed bashing."

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W/r/t the "weed comments"</... (Below threshold)

May 2, 2009 2:24 AM | Posted by G. Day: | Reply

W/r/t the "weed comments"

1) It's a joke-- given that this is a psychiatrist's blog discussing, among other things, pharmacology, I'm going to go out on a limb and suggest that the good doctor has a fairly nuanced and informed (certainly more informed than "studies have shown...") view on pot use. He's using a stereotype to humorous effect, which you'd get if
2) You weren't projecting because you've had bad experiences with authority figures who just don't get it, man. Now you lamely try to distance yourselves by assuming a disinterested, critical tone. But, to paraphrase another expert on pharmaceuticals, "why so defensive?": do whatever you want, it's your body. Just so long as you don't start torching cars in your refer madness.

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Did you just make this stuf... (Below threshold)

May 2, 2009 10:36 AM | Posted by BMac: | Reply

Did you just make this stuff up as you went along? It seems more armchair-advisor than analytical.

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"you expect the toll booth ... (Below threshold)

May 2, 2009 11:37 AM | Posted by gah.: | Reply

"you expect the toll booth guy to function at the same intellectual level as you do. Is that reasonable? If he was smarter, he wouldn't be working in a toll booth.".

Wow. That smacks of contempt, and more importantly I'm certain that it's not accurate. People's jobs are far from being always related to their IQs, or to their intelligence in general. To begin with, exceptionally gifted people generally don't do too well professionally; even those who are reasonably successful are generally very far from achieving their true potential. And I'm sure you're aware that external events in people's lives and/or personal issues can interfere with their ability to be professionally successful, no matter how intelligent they are.

NB, I don't work at a toll booth (even though I could, it's not something I'd be ashamed of). I just dislike social biases and mindless categorization.

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So, where's the research be... (Below threshold)

May 2, 2009 11:49 AM | Posted by Barnaby: | Reply

So, where's the research behind this? Is this just a collection of your personal pet peeves? This kind of intuited advice is little more than opinion and isn't worth reading. This is not even at the level of a case study.

You claim to be an academic and a psychiatrist, and I see no evidence of either here. Weird.

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Hahaha, it seems that the g... (Below threshold)

May 2, 2009 12:21 PM | Posted by Z: | Reply

Hahaha, it seems that the good Doc has hit a nerve with a number of people here. It's amusing to see people get caught up on all the wrong things.

1. It is not worth getting your panties in a twist about his humorous references to smoking weed. Get over it. It seems that despite all the "studies" you have read and the hours spent on deep introspection on this subject has just led some of you to feel even more self-conscious about weed smoking. Insecurity is unbecoming.

2. Gah - Yeah, a person's job may not be directly correlated with their IQ, but that does not mean that it is generally the case. If the toll booth attendant is really having trouble trying to count 2 quarters, 2 dimes, and a nickel, he is obviously not a genius in disguise. People generally flock to the jobs that they are best suited for; not everyone is suited for greatness.

NB: I dislike Holier-Than-Thou comments.

3. Barnaby - Not all research is valid, as has been proven on this site a few times before. Do you always request research articles on everything you read or hear? Or do you just request that things be "researched" when you do not agree with someone's assessment or when their opinion deeply upsets you?

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Weed is good for you. Godzi... (Below threshold)

May 2, 2009 1:57 PM | Posted by the-weed-man: | Reply

Weed is good for you. Godzilla isn't real and won't hurt your children.

This post is horribly researched and horribly written.

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There were a lot of off top... (Below threshold)

May 2, 2009 2:05 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

There were a lot of off topic (OT) posts here. I think the article has much validity - but it only tells us (save "put that down") what we SHOULDN'T do. So, John Gottman, what would you suggest we do instead?

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"If he was smarter, he woul... (Below threshold)

May 2, 2009 2:18 PM | Posted by Frank: | Reply

"If he was smarter, he wouldn't be working in a toll booth."

No, he'd be writing a crackpot psychiatry blog. The author of this post is a condescending know-nothing know-it-all.

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Here's an idea: put the bon... (Below threshold)

May 2, 2009 3:18 PM | Posted by tired: | Reply

Here's an idea: put the bong down and remove TLP from your "Favorites." You obviously have "better" things to do than contribute to the actual conversation. Same goes for you grammarians out there. It makes me very tired to scroll through your bs.

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Children absorb everything ... (Below threshold)

May 2, 2009 7:01 PM | Posted by DR. D: | Reply

Children absorb everything their parents say and do and internalize it contributing to their personality and how they perceive others. So yes, educating parents on how they influence their children is crucial. But are we raising "sheltered" children then? A good book called "One Nation Under Therapy" describes how the U.S. is treating our children likes fragile eggs protecting them from the evils of "dodge-ball, teasing, and sarcasm.

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I hardly think this is a "s... (Below threshold)

May 3, 2009 6:23 AM | Posted by Drew in SF: | Reply

I hardly think this is a "shitty blog",as the post above me so eloquently put it. Just because one doesn't like the content does not mean it is worthless. And I feel that this posting has some meat in it, I have cringed many times watching interactions between parents to kids and also couples or friends doing this stuff to each other.

I have encountered many things in this blog which gave me pause or helped me see the world I live in in a different light, and I appreciate the humorous slant.

Thank you for regularly writing this and sharing it with us here. I definitely get something good out of it, and I hope you do, too.

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"Clean your room," she orde... (Below threshold)

May 3, 2009 6:57 AM | Posted by A girl: | Reply

"Clean your room," she orders me. I just shrug - I know from long experience that no matter how well I clean, there will still be dust to be found, things to be moved around or bedsheets to be straightened. Besides, if I just leave it long enough, she'll heave a sigh, and do it herself. Not only will this save me the post-cleaning critcism, she also enjoys it. That is my theory at least, she claims different.

"Did you drive your granny home?" I stare at her - I left with granny and the car keys, and came home with only keys. What does she think happened while I was gone? "No" I tell her with a straight face, "I took a turn too sharply and granny fell out. She's still out there somewhere." I turn my back on her, and walk to my room. Her laughter follows me - I guess she found it funny.

Five, six, seven, eight, I have a dance and it's not too late. Nine, ten, ellev, twelve, I can twirl around myself. "What do you want for dinner" she askes in the middle of it all. I stop and stare - "Oh, is the show over?" she asks. Yes mom, now it is.

The show is indeed over. I moved as far away as I could, and you only get to visit for special occasions.

This is a good post. The rules are not different depending on age and family relations. Only, I'd not worry about weeds, I'd worry about the older friend with his pockets full of ... booze.

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If someone had offered me w... (Below threshold)

May 3, 2009 11:36 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

If someone had offered me weed for every time my father stonewalled me, I would have been such a stoner.

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Thank-you for constantly bl... (Below threshold)

May 3, 2009 5:47 PM | Posted by Whoa!: | Reply

Thank-you for constantly blowing my mind, and helping me squeegee my third eye!

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When you get a parent who h... (Below threshold)

May 4, 2009 5:42 AM | Posted by fraise: | Reply

When you get a parent who has honed these into a sadistic art form, you get the nuclear penta-fecta of criticism, stonewalling, defensiveness, contempt and ultimatum all in one brief exchange:
Son: "Mom, I just hit my sister." (My brother ended up actually doing this -- admitting things outright. No consequences is why.)
Mother, to her daughter (1, criticism): "What did you do to make your brother hit you?!"
Daughter, hopelessly deadpan because she's used to it and knows what's coming: "Mom, I didn't do anything, he just hit me, you should be yelling at him."
Mother, to her daughter (2 through 5, here's the nuclear bomb): "You are such a stupid, lying wh*re!! Keep that up and you'll go to hell, don't you ever learn?!"

Daughter thinks silently to herself that hell would be easier to deal with.

Like A girl -- I too moved far, far away.

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My Mom was certainly a big ... (Below threshold)

May 4, 2009 10:39 AM | Posted by Jack: | Reply

My Mom was certainly a big user of the critical and stonewalling variety. All my high school friends were honor students (take the top ten in my class, those were my friends), never used drugs, and stayed out of trouble. I did the same. But my parents still had criticisms of them (they swore!), they played video games, they didn't go to church. The thing is that my Mom would extend these "flaws" to the very bases of their character (i.e. "must be lazy if he plays video games" or "must have a broken family if he doesn't go to church.")

I finally said, "okay, if you've got a problem with my friends, then that's fine. You don't need to see them anymore." I pretty much cut my parents out of my life as I went off to college. Today, those terrible friends are doctors, lawyers, professors at Princeton, etc.

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Obviously the Total Transfo... (Below threshold)

May 4, 2009 12:25 PM | Posted by Paul: | Reply

Obviously the Total Transformation is required here. I love their commericals.

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Absolutley. Good point. I ... (Below threshold)

May 8, 2009 11:36 PM | Posted, in reply to mel g's comment, by Tony: | Reply

Absolutley. Good point. I would love to not only see what is wrong, but in fact what is the correct way.

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It's the University of Wash... (Below threshold)

May 17, 2009 12:55 PM | Posted by David: | Reply

It's the University of Washington, not University of Seattle.

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I wondered what "the Shin... (Below threshold)

June 6, 2009 9:58 PM | Posted, in reply to Andrew Ator's comment, by Otalp: | Reply

I wondered what "the Shinning" is --: ?like getting beaten with numchuks? -- I wondered. Yahoo! found it first time around: "The Shining," 1980, Stanley Kubrick, cult film about a family that . . .

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I agree with you about the ... (Below threshold)

July 13, 2009 10:52 AM | Posted by Pedro: | Reply

I agree with you about the "rolling the eyes" thing... And, as you said, all the things are pretty obvious, but worth to remember to be aware of.. thanks

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hahahahahahahahaha... (Below threshold)

August 2, 2009 6:21 PM | Posted, in reply to Anon's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

hahahahahahahahaha

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The hilarity starts when th... (Below threshold)

August 5, 2009 2:50 AM | Posted by kayleighkins: | Reply

The hilarity starts when the bad parents start disagreeing with this post. My mom did all of this, doesn't mean I came out wrong--I am strangely well rounded (although my siblings...)--but it doesn't mean I'm particularly fond of her either. The point this post is making is simple: don't be an asshole--to anybody.

The end.

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Ok, I'm sorry, but this nee... (Below threshold)

September 10, 2009 12:50 AM | Posted by Dan: | Reply

Ok, I'm sorry, but this needs to be said:

A psychiatrist is not trained in counseling or therapy. That's the job of psychologists. A psychiatrist prescribes meds. Ironically, the psychologist usually tells the psychiatrist what med and what dosage to give a client when referring their client to the psychiatrist.

There is no empirical evidence here. This person is not trained in counseling. I can find nothing stating that this person is even trained as a child psychiatrist. This person doesn't even claim to be a parent. Therefor, if you're listening to their advice, take it with a grain of salt. It really sounds more like the haphazard ramblings of someone who likes to hear their own voice.

Articles like these are really offensive to us psychologists out there who busy performing research and counseling distraught families.

With all of that said, most of the article makes sense. The anti-weed sentiment I can agree with (THC has a very long half-life in the brain, and permanently slows neurotransmitters in the synapse), but no, one mistake as a parent will not drive a kid to drugs.

If you're truly concerned with parenting, here are two very useful tips:

1.) Strive to teach your child personal responsibility. Don't berate them over every little mistake or blame them for an honest accident, but make it clear that they need to take responsibility for what they've done wrong. Not only will this instill integrity, but it will also allow them to take more pride in what they've done right.

2.) Explain to your child why you do the things you do. If you punish them, explain to them it's not because you like giving them time-outs, but because you want to teach them the difference between right and wrong. When you don't give them the ice cream they want, explain how it can affect their health and ruin their appetite for dinner.

Kids pick up on everything you do and are looking for guidance. It'd difficult to balance having a soft touch yet a firm hand. I'm not surprised so many people turn to online sources for advice. But if people are that hungry for knowledge, at least seek out experts in that area and don't just do whatever some random person tells you to do; no matter how educated they are.

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Jesus. My mom was an alcoh... (Below threshold)

October 7, 2009 11:02 AM | Posted by La BellaDonna: | Reply

Jesus. My mom was an alcoholic, and it absolutely has had its effects on how I turned out as an adult (I DON'T drink, I'm a caretaker, among other things - possibly not the worst results ever) - but at least she LIKED us all. Liked us, loved us, wanted us to be happy without telling us what that was supposed to look like. Liked our company, taught five kids to love reading and to think for themselves, made sure there was dinner every night. She made her share of mistakes, and I wish she hadn't been alcoholic, among other things, but she was worlds away better as a parent than the kind of parent delineated here.

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I like this blog a lot, but... (Below threshold)

October 7, 2009 3:01 PM | Posted by Jane: | Reply

I like this blog a lot, but the real entertainment is the comments. They're better than Charlie Chaplain skits for a sure laugh.

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As a child myself, I must w... (Below threshold)

June 24, 2010 4:00 PM | Posted by Locke: | Reply

As a child myself, I must whole-heartedly agree with the sentiments expressed in this blog post. Honestly, the worst of all must be "stonewalling." As a fairly intelligent human being, I find it utterly incomprehensible to be told, basically, to "Screw off," when I am making a valid point about hypocracy, or general unfair conditions.

To all the people that disagree with this post, that is your own volition: however, the insults you're giving out like candy are absolute bullshit. Seriously, grow up. You do not need to lurk this tiny corner of the internet just to tell a psychiatrist that his theories and ideas upon the nuturing of children are wrong. I'm sure 4chan.org could use more people like you - go there and stop wasting your inane arguments upon a man who gives enough of a shit to, at the very least, extrapolate information from a study upon married couples and apply the techniques they use when they argue to what would, more than likely, show through when they are yelling at their child.

Anywho, that is just my two cents. If you dislike this man, and do not trust his credentials, then ignore whatever wisdom you could have gleaned from this post. However, if you wish to actually learn something - correct, or not (as is your duty as a human being, to sort through information and decide what is correct or relevant) - then, I implore you to continue reading and theorizing yourself. This post is not the be-all, end-all of child psychology - get out there and read opposing viewpoints.

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I forgot to touch upon one ... (Below threshold)

June 24, 2010 4:06 PM | Posted by Locke: | Reply

I forgot to touch upon one more topic, that of the percieved lack-of-intelligence attributed to toll-booth workers. No shit, eh? They work in a damned toll booth counting change for a living. They are obviously neither intelligent nor educated, or if they are both than they lack ambition. Which makes them just as bad, no? Even if you [b]are[/b] intelligent (which is rarely the case for such employment), if you are working in a toll booth, you are obviously neither ambitious nor motivated. I cannot belive the nit-picky issues people have chosen to argue over - this is ridiculous. The weed comments are obviously in jest (although, I do suppose they turned out to speak soothe for people like myself), and the author does not take a standpoint on the drug. Simply, he uses it as a device in lieu of the infinite stream of possible consequences for fucking up parenting - a lighter hearted one than, say, becoming a back-alley meth-whore, no?

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Too right, mate! My parents... (Below threshold)

July 8, 2010 8:42 AM | Posted by Rizzeh: | Reply

Too right, mate! My parents did all of these and guess who, as a direct result, started smoking weed at the age of 10? Respect your children and teach them to respect others, be kind and patient, let them make decisions about their own life and you be accountable for the decisions you make that affect them. Give them room to BE the individuals that they are. You don't need a degree in psychology to know right from wrong.

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lol@weed.... (Below threshold)

July 18, 2010 10:02 AM | Posted by Nur: | Reply

lol@weed.

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Hey, I working in a toll-bo... (Below threshold)

July 18, 2010 10:04 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

Hey, I working in a toll-booth. And one of my co-workers is trained as a structural engineer.

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You lost credibility with m... (Below threshold)

July 20, 2010 6:19 PM | Posted by put off: | Reply

You lost credibility with me when you said a guy working a toll booth couldn't be bright. Sorry you just proved yourself an idiot. Thank goodness for spellcheck so idiots like you can publish.

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hahaha "Hey, I working in a... (Below threshold)

August 3, 2010 4:18 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Michael!: | Reply

hahaha "Hey, I working in a toll-booth." Keep up the good work buddy, you go prove 'em wrong.

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That comment you made about... (Below threshold)

September 19, 2010 10:57 PM | Posted by nate: | Reply

That comment you made about that one thing in that one section of this article OFFFENDS me so much that I am going to disregard everything you say and post a comment about how much better I am than you.

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Your first tip is the exact... (Below threshold)

October 25, 2010 8:03 PM | Posted, in reply to Dan's comment, by Michael: | Reply

Your first tip is the exact point in this article. Try actually reading the words without bias, as a psychologist I would expect at least that from you. But your irrational hatred for psychiatrists is obviously affecting your objectivity.

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"It teaches one other aw... (Below threshold)

December 13, 2010 2:03 AM | Posted by O'Bedlam: | Reply

"It teaches one other awesome message: it doesn't actually matter what I do, only what people think of me."

I eventually went too far in the other way on that: I decided that it didn't matter what other people thought of me or what I was doing. E.g., if I crossed the street without carefully looking both ways and someone yelled "Look out! Truck!" I'd think he was trying to impinge on my personhood.

I often wish I could send a message back in time to myself.

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Yes. The tollbooth remark w... (Below threshold)

March 21, 2012 8:21 AM | Posted, in reply to Frank's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

Yes. The tollbooth remark was really low. Also ignorant. Suggests his social circle might be kind of small. Maybe that is why he calls himself Alone.
The overall post was good though. Very common-sense. I wonder if toll booth operators are regarded as having at least that going for them.?

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This is hilarious... he jus... (Below threshold)

November 14, 2012 3:29 PM | Posted by BrainBomb: | Reply

This is hilarious... he just said toll booth as an analogy... he could have said "Ant Farmer" and you literal extremists out there would have been offended. I am sick of you PC police. Suck all the fun out of everything with your sensationalist self righteous cracks.

The post was great. Lateral thinking like this, takes data from one data set and translates it, propels modern thinkers and our society as a whole. Otherwise, Mr. Franklin would have been upset that his kite string had been burned instead of developing one of the most important discoveries that the modern world has every known.

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Meh... he/she's just talkin... (Below threshold)

November 14, 2012 4:18 PM | Posted by tornpapernapkin: | Reply

Meh... he/she's just talking about having unrealistic expectations of people with the toll booth.

What I don't get is where divorce comes in. Why would parents divorce each other just because they're making their kid miserable? Nothing works like a common enemy/bargaining chip/property/indentured servant/spy/source of affection/pathway to hurting the other spouse/familial pawn/endless source of sympathy/punching bag/scapegoat/etc...

you can keep bludgeoning your kid into the missing piece of the jigsaw puzzle for a long long long long time. By then... you might even have grandchildren if you're lucky.

If you do it right, your kid can become a stand in for anything you need. And if you do it right your kid can figure this out consciously and save your marriage for a long long time.

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If both parents couldn't fi... (Below threshold)

November 15, 2012 6:02 AM | Posted, in reply to tornpapernapkin's comment, by A.S.C: | Reply

If both parents couldn't figure it out, how do you figure that the kid ever could?

Besides, odds are that the parents of such a child see it simply as an extention of their own identity, and aren't going to let something like that get in the way of getting a divorce: the divorce itself is an attempt to remove the other adult from one's identity; why would the Child-extention be given more Authority than the soon-to-be-Ex-extention.

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"If both parents couldn't f... (Below threshold)

November 15, 2012 9:26 AM | Posted, in reply to A.S.C's comment, by tornpapernapkin: | Reply

"If both parents couldn't figure it out, how do you figure that the kid ever could?"

Because I did.

"why would the Child-extention be given more Authority than the soon-to-be-Ex-extention."

Because one parent needs a husband/wife in the child and the other parent needs a parent in the child, and everyone needs an oubliette or source of redemption so they can do what they want?

"Besides, odds are that the parents of such a child see it simply as an extention of their own identity, and aren't going to let something like that get in the way of getting a divorce"

But that's only if they want a divorce. The article implies people who don't but will end up getting one. Also, who said divorce is a bad thing?

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What everyone means, but no... (Below threshold)

March 20, 2013 3:35 AM | Posted, in reply to Anon's comment, by Atarii: | Reply

What everyone means, but no one is saying, is that "were" refers to a possibility, a peradventure, a postulation:
"Were I more intelligent, I could do this more effectively."

There are two words that sound and look like "were"; one is as I described above, and the other is past-plural.

"They were all staring at me/He was staring at me."

Remember: If you are referring to a wish or dream or desire, and not time, then it is "were."

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interesting blog... (Below threshold)

July 12, 2013 6:14 AM | Posted by bakeca Agrigento: | Reply

interesting blog

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Passive aggression? Are you... (Below threshold)

July 19, 2013 6:49 PM | Posted, in reply to Andrew Ator's comment, by Pino: | Reply

Passive aggression? Are you serious? There's a reason the word aggression is still in there. You piss people off with it. Even more so since it's passive, in an attempt to block any possible rebuttals, leaving the victim defenseless. I have a friend who is constantly passive aggressive, and I have way more issues keeping discussions on friendly terms with him than with anyone else.

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"The sooner a kid learns he... (Below threshold)

July 20, 2013 4:51 AM | Posted by Chad: | Reply

"The sooner a kid learns he has to behave certain ways not because of anything, but just because, the sooner he'll be able to develop his own superego strength."

But what if *I* never learned to do something "just because"? Honestly, that phrase is only marginally less rage-inducing than "because I said so."

Seriously? If you can't be bothered to come up with a reason, then I have much more interesting ways of filling up my time than pointless busy-work.

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Yup, that's my childhood al... (Below threshold)

October 7, 2013 2:40 AM | Posted by David: | Reply

Yup, that's my childhood all over again.

Mom: "Have you mowed the lawn yet?" (guilt - she obviously knows I haven't)

Me: "No, I'll do it later... (of my own volition when you get off my back and LET me be the one to initiate it, jeez)"

Mom: "I've already been asking you for two days. Would you respond to your like this?" (contempt)

(Here I'm a little dumbstrucken because how do you respond to that as a kid... especially when your parents are divorced... there are just so many things wrong with that one statement. Reducing her own authority, making it seem like there's always some giant other authority to put me in my place, pulling my divorced dad into the picture who is neither there for comment or to take action (and especially as I got older was one who would, ironically, reason and discuss things with me thus counter-acting her own guilt trip)

Me: "No" OR as I got older insert: "no I wouldn't do that but that's not the same because...", or "my Dad would probably talk it out with me", or "some confrontational remark that would ignite a giant yelling match which would bring in my step dad who's hovering near the argument at this point"

Her: (some defensive response where she never once concedes a single point I make no matter how true)

Me: "But that's not fair"

Her: "Well I'm the parent and you're the child"

(insert either end-of-argument or several rounds of yelling/re-iterating my points depending upon if I'm calm enough to still think clearly after having every one of my points shot down without reason, and then end-of-argument (along with possibly being grounded))


You know, writing this out brings up a lot of questions. This still bothers me a lot. A lot. Now my mom is a very kind and intelligent woman in many regards. She's a family doctor. She's helped out with the local Community League at various points as the Treasurer. No one would ever say a bad word about her (that I've heard).

But then there's what I just wrote. It makes me angry. I just turned 25 and I know that doesn't hold nearly as much weight over my life as it used to, but still...

I don't know what to do with that. She's not much different now than she was back then (except that she drinks more and watches more CNN). Do I bring it up? Do I re-frame it in some way? I don't know. To complicate matters, I'm living back at home temporarily because it's letting me pay down my student debt faster. I just know I need to do SOMETHING with it. But doing the wrong thing with stuff like that always seems to turn out poorly...

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(re-posting because the HTM... (Below threshold)

October 7, 2013 2:43 AM | Posted by David: | Reply

(re-posting because the HTML parser removed everything in triangle brackets)

Yup, that's my childhood all over again.

Mom: "Have you mowed the lawn yet?" (guilt - she obviously knows I haven't)

Me: "No, I'll do it later... (of my own volition when you get off my back and LET me be the one to initiate it, jeez)"

Mom: "I've already been asking you for two days. Would you respond to your (insert teacher, dad, etc etc) like this?" (contempt)

(Here I'm a little dumbstrucken because how do you respond to that as a kid... especially when your parents are divorced... there are just so many things wrong with that one statement. Reducing her own authority, making it seem like there's always some giant other authority to put me in my place, pulling my divorced dad into the picture who is neither there for comment or to take action (and especially as I got older was one who would, ironically, be the one to reason and discuss things with me)

Me: "No" OR as I got older insert: "no I wouldn't do that but that's not the same because...", or "my Dad would probably talk it out with me", or "some confrontational remark that would ignite a giant yelling match which would bring in my step dad who's hovering near the argument at this point"

Her: (some defensive response where she never once concedes a single point I make no matter how true)

Me: "But that's not fair"

Her: "Well I'm the parent and you're the child"

(insert either end-of-argument or several rounds of yelling/re-iterating my points depending upon if I'm calm enough to still think clearly after having every one of my points shot down without reason, and then end-of-argument (along with possibly being grounded))


You know, writing this out brings up a lot of questions. This still bothers me a lot. A lot. Now my mom is a very kind and intelligent woman in many regards. She's a family doctor. She's helped out with the local Community League at various points as the Treasurer. No one would ever say a bad word about her (that I've heard).

But then there's what I just wrote. It makes me angry. I just turned 25 and I know that doesn't hold nearly as much weight over my life as it used to, but still...

I don't know what to do with that. She's not much different now than she was back then (except that she drinks more and watches more CNN). Do I bring it up? Do I re-frame it in some way? I don't know. To complicate matters, I'm living back at home temporarily because it's letting me pay down my student debt faster. I just know I need to do SOMETHING with it. But doing the wrong thing with stuff like that always seems to turn out poorly...

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So wait... Where's that wee... (Below threshold)

October 7, 2013 3:46 AM | Posted by Thales: | Reply

So wait... Where's that weed?? Oh nevermind. It's right in my hand.

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Confused. People think you ... (Below threshold)

May 18, 2014 9:04 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

Confused. People think you were actually criticising the parents in this piece? Am I the one misunderstanding your point? I assumed the point was that the parents are fine even if they sometimes do things that look like those four?

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Some things are wrong, r... (Below threshold)

May 18, 2014 10:18 AM | Posted by Curio: | Reply

Some things are wrong, regardless of consequences.

Deep down, Alone is a moralist. Love it.

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Are you retarded?... (Below threshold)

May 18, 2014 10:35 AM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

Are you retarded?

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