Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia on June 9, 1974 · Page 85
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June 9, 1974

Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia · Page 85

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Charleston, West Virginia
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Sunday, June 9, 1974
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Page 85
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Are You a Problem Parent ? By Irwin Ross If you are a parent, probably your children are often a problem to you. But how often is that your own fault? A well-known child's heart specialist says most mothers of afflicted children are worse problems than the disease itself. Psychologists estimate that more than three-quarters of so-called feeding problems are mother-caused. Discussing the high percentage of nonphysical rejections from the Armed Forces, Army psychiatrists say: "The most important factor is found to be disturbance in family background." Are you a problem parent? The subject is vast; no quick self-test can embrace every facet. But, here are ten questions that cover a cross section of parental behavior. Answering them and scoring yourself honestly can give you a fair idea of your own rating. Try to answer each question Yes (0 points) or No (10 points). If you find you can't, put down Sometimes, Partly or Perhaps (5 points). Then study the answers -- they hold the clues to your behavior. Finally, total your score to see just how much of a problem parent you are. QUESTIONS Do you expect unquestioning obedience from your child? Do you m a k e all your child's decisions for him? Do you push your child to attempt things that are beyond him? Do you and your spouse ever fail to back each other up on decisions affecting your child? In view of the publicity, hard work, and special attention involved, would you refuse to let your child act in the movies or on television? For his own protection, do you forbid your child to play in dangerous places or with rough playmates? Do you ban the comics? Do you try to teach your child gratitude by reminding him of all you do for him? Do you believe a child with musical talent will develop it naturally with no encouragement? Do you reward your child for good behavior by promising him a treat if he does as you ask? ^ ANSWERS 1. Better not. Obedience in some things and for some purposes is necessary. But, obedience is not an end in itself. It is a means of education, not a final purpose. And the whole question turns upon what we ask the child to obe'y, and how we put our demands to him. What we imply when we say he should obey us is that our particular demands are reasonable and just, and that obeying them will be good for him. But no more than that! ·: ' **$..«.. * ·/.-$ t'p to a point, parental protection is essential. Beyond that, it may make you a "problem parent.' 2. You may have a tendency to -- but you shouldn't. Despite the great latitude given the modern youngster today in thought, speech and action, this generation is actually given only a semblance of freedom. If you try to choose your children's friends and clothes, manage their affairs in general, you are simply enforcing a continuance of your power. Advice should be free to be taken or rejected. »· 3. It's dangerous. A first child, especially, often is pushed too hard. Impatient mothers may expect progress in feeding, dressing, toilet training, talking, reading that is beyond the child's a b i l i t i e s . U s u a l l y , if he doesn't measure up, he becomes discouraged and stops trying. Similarly, when a child is introduced into an entirely new element, such as kindergarten or school, it may take him weeks to become adjusted and happy. Mothers who rush through this period, or remove their children after a few days of experiment, lose the aid of the parent's greatest ally -- time. »· 4. Don't! Children learn very young whether they can appeal to one parent for a reversal of the other's decisions. Though this knowledge tends to destroy their sense of security, they exploit it. Parents should consider their own teamwork and the consistency of whatever policy they decide to adopt toward their children. This policy needs thinking over and talking over. ·· 5. Why worry? State laws adequately protect child actors. Their working hours are short, their standards of health protection and'educa- tion extremely high. Entertainment work alone has not been known to hurt a child. What may be harmful is not the work, but the attitude of the parent. This is only one field in which an over-ambitious mother can hurt her child's development. She can teach him to be a snob, to indulge in race or religious prejudice, to have a false standard of money, to count on goals he never can achieve. Or she can help him to be a well-adjusted, normal person. 6. It may not be as much "protection" as you think. Every child must learn normal caution, must learn to protect himself and avoid danger. But that's it -- he must be trained to do it for himself. "Maternal overprotection" can become an actual disease. An overprotected child may become so passive that he can make no decisions for himself, may grow up to be an indecisive'per- son; or he may take the opposite pattern of defiant rebellion and end up a juvenile delinquent. ·· 7. Since millions of comic books are sold every month, this question is important. Fantasy is a normal part of the development of the child's personality, and comics satisfy this psychological need as much as do fairy tales. Some child education experts suggest not forbidding the comics, but rather broadening the child's real experiences. »· 8. Better not. If you do. sooner or later you'll hear the retort: "I didn't ask to be born." Children need to learn gratitude, but not through parental martyrdom. Soon enough they learn that parents do most things for them voluntarily. One mother always complained of her many sacrifices for her children. Then, one holiday, her family took over all her tasks, giving her a "rest." The enforced idleness nearly drove her crazy. »· 9. He may, but don't count on it. All children are born with an innate sense of music, of rhythm, but to know, appreciate, understand and perform musically they must have training. Young children learn best to appreciate music in relation to their own bodily movements. First they have to become aware of and interested in music; later they can be given the opportunity to learn to perform musically. All children can develop a musical skill and appreciation to some degree. But musical ability is less a gift than an achievement. »· 10. A promise of a treat for good behavior is a bribe, not a reward. Children need rewards as much as adults, but to bribe is merely to teach a child that good behavior has its price. A reward is not promised beforehand, but given after the good deed has been accomplished. The child may hope for such a reward but he can't count on it, can't use it as a bargaining weapon. SCORING If you score 0-10, you could use help. A good child psychologist may be the answer. He has studied large numbers of children as well as parents. If 10-40, you would do well to read, listen, examine yourself and take advice from others more experienced than- yourself. If 40-70, you are about average. Nobody is perfect. You can improve, but then so can your children. Maybe you can grow mature together. If 70-90, you should be a child psychologist or teacher and maybe you are. If more than 90 -- have you really been honest? tfune; CHAR W. VA. 7m ri j r.r- La'. .W7,f-

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