The Worst Parenting Strategy and How to Fix It

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"Parenting is hard, raising a child is not," preaches parenting guru, John Rosemond.

Which provokes the question: how is parenting different from raising a child?

Rosemond is referring to the traditional method of raising a child when children respected and consequently obeyed adults versus the progressive model of parenting where the adage "familiarity breeds contempt" was realized through the "best-buddy" syndrome.

At the root of this new choice of best friends is the idea that children need to have high self-esteem to do well in life. But the evidence is glaring, and it's shouting to us from the rooftops that we’ve got it all wrong.

So conspicuous is it that I won't bore you with more proof of our parenting shortsightedness.

High self-esteem is a bigger social problem than low self-esteem.
— Roy Baumeister, psychologist, researcher

But there's something that is seldom if ever mentioned in the conversation around high self-esteem, and this is the concept that the self-esteem movement usurped.

What old idea did this new idea of self-esteem replace?

Pondering this question is when the conversation becomes exciting.

What the self-esteem movement replaced was the ancient concept of humility.

Since the beginning of time, we've prized humility as the greatest of virtues.

Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.
— C. S. Lewis

The opposite of humility is pride, and pride has always been recognized throughout our entire history of Western civilization to be the greatest vice.

Pride is the downfall of man and the downfall of every great civilization. History repeats itself, and this pattern is evident.

Yet within a couple of decades, suddenly, as if overnight, we've been deluded into believing that we have to raise children not in the ways of humility, which is at the root of civilized behavior, but in the ways of high self-esteem.

Using incompetent parenting strategies, we've produced a country whose citizens embody the worst of all the vices: pride.

Pride makes us artificial and humility makes us real. -
— Thomas Merton

Back in the crazy 1960s when the seeds of the self-esteem movement took sprout, people were walking around calling themselves "God" or "Jesus" after having popped too much LSD.

Today we're raising a bunch of delusional demigods by overdosing our children with the cheap drugs of praise, rewards, attention, and coddling.

Who needs LSD when you’ve got progressive parenting?

The perfect life we’ve created for our children has turned into a perfect mess.

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Have we overlooked the vital importance of a forgotten virtue?

Here are four simple ways to avoid the self-esteem trap:

  1. Raise children to understand that every little circle they draw on paper does not deserve acknowledgment.

  2. That every time they eat another pea the entire table does not need to break out into shouts of "you did it!"

  3. That every time they fall down, someone does not need to rush to pick them up, dust them off, and ask with big wide eyes of concern, "Are you okay?"

  4. Most importantly, while you do love them unconditionally, you are not their best friend. You are their parent.

Here are four simple ways to teach your children humility:

  1. Teach your children to serve others regardless of their race, religion, or color. Keep your home inclusive so your children don’t grow up with an “us” and “them” mentality which is at the root of genocide.

  2. Have them serve you and serve your guests (within reason). They should be taught to bring you what you ask for including a cup of tea (and especially a cup of tea!). They should help serve drinks and food, clear the table, and wash the dishes when you have guests (and when you don’t)

  3. Teach them to clean up after themselves out of consideration for others

  4. Teach them good manners

  5. Teach them to "give many thy ear but few thy voice."

Might they not grow up a little happier, a little saner, and a little less likely to think the world revolves around them if we spend less time parenting our children and more time raising them?

For my upcoming course, Raise Your Child Well: Correct Preparation for a Satisfying, Successful and Happy Adulthood, please join the waiting list to be notified first when enrollment opens again in August, 2019.

Don’t miss my free download, Ten Books Every Well-Educated Child Should Read!

Elizabeth Y. Hanson combines her training in holistic medicine, parenting coach certificate, plus 17+ years working in education to provide you with a unique approach to raising and educating your children.

A veteran homeschooler herself, she now has two homeschooled children in college.