Developing a Humble Attitude

A mother who attended a recent presentation during which I described the differences between high self-esteem and humility writes asking “What should my husband and I be doing to help our children develop humble hearts?”

Before I answer her question, I need to point out two things: First, humility was the cultural ideal up until the late 1960s, at which point self-esteem theory began to hold sway. Second, the research is clear that people who possess high self-esteem do not have good emotional coping skills, are highly prone to regular episodes of depression, and tend toward sociopathy. And that’s just the short list. For more on that, Google the work of researchers Roy Baumeister and Jean Twenge.

People who know nothing of the research, when I ask if they’d rather live next door to a person with high self-esteem or a person who is humble and modest, answer the latter. No one given that choice has ever chosen the former, proving my general contention that common-sense and social science research generally line up.

A good number of people equate humility and modesty with shyness, but that’s an error. Humility is simply an attitude of service. The humble person looks for opportunities to be of service to others, from opening doors to volunteering in charitable activities. A person with high self-esteem, which is an entitlement mentality, walks through the opened door without saying “Thank you.”

I gave the above mom the following five tips for assisting her children toward developing a humble social attitude:

1. Train children to serve by assigning them to unpaid chores in and around the home. It is axiomatic, as our fore-parents used to say, that good citizenship begins in the home. Chores should begin at age 3 and increase steadily from there.
2. Train children to pay attention to the needs of others by teaching proper manners. The social graces consist of small, gentle acts that acknowledge respect for others; thus, the gentleman and gentlewoman.
3. When kids act “full of themselves”-when they brag about their accomplishments for example-let them know that boasting is disrespectful of those who may have tried as hard but did not do as well; that it is an example of bad manners.
4. When a child does well academically, artistically, or athletically, low-key praise is certainly appropriate, but consider coupling it with words that cause the child to begin thinking of ways he can use his gifts to better the lives of others.
5. Be a good role model and mentor of humility. Show your kids what being a good neighbor is all about. Be helpful toward those in need and adversity. Make volunteerism a visible aspect of your life and the life of your family.

Because, to paraphrase the inimitable Forrest Gump, humility is as humility does.


Kids and Technology

Guest Article in the John Rosemond Newsletter


What’s a Parent To Do?

by Janet Carter

The technology question is among my top five FAQs, if not number one. As well it should be, as it is a question without an easy answer. This is a general guideline, and even within my own guideline, there is room for discussion. I publish it below in hopes of starting the discussion in your home. Your discussion and your decisions will have significant impact on your children and the next generation.

1. Remember that nothing is all good or all bad and like it or not, technology is in your child’s future. We cannot turn back the clocks, and, like driving a car, your children need to learn to use it safely.

2. General rule of thumb: little to none for the very young. Everything I read suggests that it causes our brain waves to go from beta to alpha (active to passive), which is NOT what we want for developing brains. ( In a culture so intent on education, early and often, the use of iPads on cribs and potty chairs is, ironic at best and absurd at worst. As a daily activity, absolutely not, if for no other reason than you will find you and your children will grow quickly dependent on the electronic babysitter. Create better habits for yourself and them.

But, if watching Elmo on an iPad while on a long trip keeps an 18 month old from actively thinking (and screaming) GET ME OUT OF THIS CAR, and keeps the adults with said child from losing their minds along the way, then I would say that desperate times call for desperate measures.

3. For elementary children, to the extent that you can, limit, limit, limit screen time, including TV. Again, the same brain wave effects as above. We want the minds of our children actively engaged, and despite the educational claims of today’s electronic games and programming, the best education is the tried and true: books and play. If you allow screen time, you need to be very clear about the limits and if they are violated, so is the privilege. No exceptions.

4. Computers are being employed in public and private schools, and in our area, children in middle school are issued a laptop for the school year, just like a textbook. Children should be unequivocally informed that the computer (or iPad, or phone) does NOT belong to them. It is the property of the adult that pays for it. They are to use it within very strict parameters and anything outside of those parameters is not tolerated and will result in loss of use. Period.

Case in point: I talked with a mom who discovered that her child had used the school computer to create a separate personal account, which was a violation of the house rules for computer use. She was surprised and disappointed at her child’s violation of trust, given that this was (and is) a good student and had in the past given her no reason to doubt compliance to the rules. The transgression proved innocent enough – but the innocence of the lapse is not the point. This is an example of a good child making a childish decision. But for us as adults, the mistake is a wake-up call to the ease of availability the internet provides and just how quickly a child can get into trouble.

5. As children get older, unless you and they live on a remote self-sustaining farm, apart from any form of internet accessibility, they will become more and more involved with technology and social media. As such, parents need to be vigilant and set limits and constraints that are to be strictly followed. All screens should be used in a family area and NO ONE should be allowed to be on a computer or any similar device without an adult present and nearby. No exception, even if that makes life tough for the parents. Employ any parental safeguards available.

Remember that these are power tools in the hands of children – children who do not know nearly as much as they think they know. Without question most kids are technically savvier than their parents, but savvy is not the same thing as mature. Pornography is rampant, as are sexual predators, and children of any age need our protection and our persistence. This is not a lesson to learn the hard way.

6. If your kids play video games – set time limits and stick to them. 30 minutes means 30 minutes – and if you return in 35 minutes and the game is not shut down – the privilege is revoked and screen time is lost for a week (or more). Make your children responsible for their time. If they are old enough to play the game, they are old enough to watch the clock. With any privilege, including video games, comes responsibility. Same goes for the TV.

7. NO, NO, NO screens of any kind in a child’s bedroom. Ever. Cell phones of anyone under the age of 18 and living at home should be turned in to a parent every night, even if they have to wake up the parent to do so. Parents should feel no guilt and make no apologies for this rule, as I would suspect that parents are the ones footing the bill for the privilege.

Again, nothing is all good. Nothing is all bad. If you are parents and have never questioned, researched, and discussed the pros and cons of technology and its impact on your family, there is no time like now! Make well informed choices, as technology is not only in your child’s future, but their future may depend on those decisions.

Janet Carter is a former high school English teacher and mother to four adult children. Based in Richmond, VA, Janet is a Certified Rosemond Parenting Coach, writer, speaker, and advocate for the family. You can follow her on Twitter @janetgcarter or visit her website and blog,

Article ©2014 Janet Carter.

Because I Said So.

            “Because I said so” is nothing more than an affirmation of the legitimacy of the authority of the parent in question. The parent is an adult; the child is not. The child is completely dependent upon the parent for his or her very survival. The parent would take a bullet for the child; the likelihood that the child would take a bullet for the parent is slim to none. For those reasons, the parent’s authority over the child is legitimate.

            And for all those reasons, the parent is under no obligation to justify any decision made concerning or any instruction he or she gives the child. As I used to tell my kids, ” Your mother and I pay for your lives. You pay nothing. We are responsible for you. You are not responsible for us. With those facts in mind, the arrangement here is very simple: We make decisions and give you instructions. You abide by and obey those decisions and instructions; and the reason you abide and obey is because we said so.”


Anger Issues

Q:        Our 14-year-old daughter has difficulty controlling her anger. She has extreme outbursts fairly frequently here at home-screaming, cursing, and even throwing things when she doesn’t get her way. She appears to have no respect for us and very little consideration for her two younger siblings. At school and in other people’s homes, however, she’s a model citizen. She’s a straight-A student about whom all of her teachers have nothing but praise. When I describe her outbursts to friends and family, they are disbelieving. Is it too late to do anything about her anger issue?


A:        I flunked fortune telling in graduate school, so the answer to your question is “I don’t know.” Nonetheless, it’s certainly worth a good try.

            You’ve told me enough to know that what you’re describing is not an “anger issue.” Rather, it’s an issue of narcissistic disrespect and ingratitude. Mind you, today’s kids come by the latter fairly easily. Generally speaking, their parents give them entirely too much. In the vernacular of an earlier parenting era, all too many of today’s kids seem to think that money grows on trees (or in their parents’ wallets and pocketbooks). The completely unnecessary personal smart phone at age 10 is the emblem of this ubiquitous over-indulgence.

            It’s a short hop from over-indulged to disrespectful. Entitlements and respect for the source of said entitlements are incompatible. More often than not, entitlements engender an “I deserve” attitude. When the entitlers are parents, the outcome is likely to be as you describe: thanklessness, demands, and rages when demands are not met.

            In short, a problem of this sort does not arise independent of a certain set of home-based circumstances. If you’re going to solve this problem you will first need to accept that you provided the medium in which it developed. In that regard, the question becomes, “Are you willing to radically change your ways?”

            Your daughter probably believes that exemplary grades and behavior outside the home place her beyond the reach of consequences. You need to demonstrate the fallacy in her thinking. Do so by removing from her room all possessions save essential clothing and school supplies. Box them up and put them in a storage facility. Cancel her cell phone contract. If she has a computer in her room, move it to a common area.

            Do the above when she’s at school. When she comes home and asks for an explanation, tell her that her disruptions and disrespect will no longer be tolerated; that when she has been disruption- and disrespect free for a continuous 30-day period, her possessions will be returned with the understanding that if she backslides, her next rehabilitation period will jump to 60 days. If, during said 30 days, she has an “incident,” the 30 days begins over again the following day. When her rehab is complete, however, things must not go back to “normal.” You have to change your indulgent ways as well or a relapse is inevitable.

            You can do this. Just keep Admiral David Farragut’s famous order in mind: “Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead!” The Very Essence of Effective Discipline             

             Two months ago, I conducted a two-day small-group “parent retreat” during which I talked about, among other things, the legitimacy and power of “because I said so.” One of my missions is to promote the restoration of the attitude that accompanies the calm, straightforward (the operative conditions) delivery of that traditional parenting aphorism. Why? Because it is the very essence of effective discipline, that’s why.

            “Because I said so” is nothing more than an affirmation of the legitimacy of the authority of the parent in question. The parent is an adult; the child is not. The child is completely dependent upon the parent for his or her very survival. The parent would take a bullet for the child; the likelihood that the child would take a bullet for the parent is slim to none. For those reasons, the parent’s authority over the child is legitimate.

            And for all those reasons, the parent is under no obligation to justify any decision made concerning or any instruction he or she gives the child. As I used to tell my kids, ” Your mother and I pay for your lives. You pay nothing. We are responsible for you. You are not responsible for us. With those facts in mind, the arrangement here is very simple: We make decisions and give you instructions. You abide by and obey those decisions and instructions; and the reason you abide and obey is because we said so.”

            Neither of our kids ever had to see a therapist. They made good grades in school (and my wife and I did not help with homework or science projects). They made good social choices, never got in serious trouble, and were completely self-supporting by their mid-20s. “Because I said so” does not seem to have been traumatic.

            Beginning in the mid-1960s, child psychologists and other mental health professionals began claiming that those four words had a problematic effect on children. They robbed children of autonomy, denied their ability to think intelligently, lowered self-esteem, and blah blah blah. Said professionals had no evidence to support any of this. They made it all up. Nonetheless, American parents, having no reason to know that people with impressive credentials sometimes make things up (a mental health tradition stretching back to Freud himself), believed them and began giving children reasons. Since then, arrogant disobedience, once rare, is now legion.

            For example, consider one of the couples who attended the above retreat. They were desperate (no exaggeration there) for advice concerning their very disobedient and disrespectful 5-year-old daughter. The parents thought that by giving reasons for their instructions and decisions they were showing respect for her intelligence. The child, however, had no use for her parents’ respect.

            The parents took in every word I said, but paid special attention to my mini-seminar on “because I said so.” I received a progress report from them the other day. “(Name of daughter withheld to protect the guilty) is much better,” they wrote. “The other day, for example, we told her to do something, to which she asked ‘why?’ Before one of us could answer, she said, ‘Wait, don’t tell me; because you say so.'”

            Once again, proof positive that this parenting thing is really quite simple.


reblogged from John Rosemond’s newsletter.

The Power of Words

Proverbs 18:21

Proverbs 18:21

The Power of Words

by Janet Carter 


You is kind. You is smart. You is important. When I first read those words in Kathryn Stockett’s fine book The Help, I did not realize at the time just how significant was their power. I did not realize the power of any words. I appreciated good writing. I recognized the talent in the author and in the actress (Viola Davis). I was moved by the spoken expression of such selfless love. But that was about it. They were, after all, just words.


I have come to realize that there is nothing just about words. From the world of quantum physics to the practicalities of everyday life, words are powerful. Words define us. Words reflect us. Words shape us. Words can destroy us. Words can empower us. Words can enlighten us. Words can change us. And if you believe the book of Genesis, words created us.


Say too many words, and you could lose your audience. Remember how Charlie Brown heard the excessive words of his teachers? Whah, whah, whah, whah, whah …  Remember Seinfeld’s oft quoted blah, blah, blah, to the repetition of the unnecessary? Remember my friend John Rosemond’s admonition, The more parents talk, the less their children will listen? Turns out too many words are just that… too many… very ineffective and apparently easily forgotten.


When Aibileen, the faithful maid from the book and movie, spoke those words to Mae Mobley, she spoke into her the person that “Baby Girl” could one day be. She spoke into her what she wanted Mae Mobley to believe about herself, because she understood that if the child believed it, the future adult could become it. She understood the power of her words and the intention of the heart.


Be mindful of the impact of your words. If you have a child who is fearful or anxious, instead of trying to talk/reason him out of his fear, what if you acknowledged the feelings, but used words of courage? I am so sorry that you are afraid of the dark. I am not afraid and I would never leave you in a place that would hurt you. You are a very brave little boy. You will overcome this fear, I just know it.


When your child is dishonest, what if you empowered him with truth in your admonishment? You are an honest person and honest people tell the truth. You will have to spend a few hours in your room for not telling me the truth. When your child speaks unkindly, what if you responded with, You are a kind person and kind people do not treat others the way you treated your friend. We will have to cancel playgroup this afternoon. When your child is disobedient, what if you said, You are a respectful person and respectful children obey their parents. You will be going to bed for the next several nights immediately after dinner.


I think Aibileen was on to something. How differently would we use our words if we believed their power? Speak positively. Respond consequentially. Say less; accomplish more. You is kind.  You is smart. You is important. A lot more.


Janet Carter is a former high school English teacher and mother to four adult children. Based in Richmond, VA, Janet is a Certified Rosemond Parenting Coach, writer, speaker, and advocate for the family. You can follow her on Twitter @janetgcarter or visit her website and blog,

reblogged from John Rosemond: Article ©2014 Janet Carter.


Words of comfort, skillfully administered, are the oldest therapy known to man.”

— Louis Nizer, American lawyer

#parenting Keep Your Priorities Straight

Blast from the Past: Keep Your Priorities Straight. Divide And Conquer‪ #‎parenting

When, in a two-parent family, the child becomes the center of attention and the child’s relationship with one or both parents consumes more energy than does the parents’ relationship with one another, it becomes easy for the child to “divide and conquer.” Parents can only act decisively if they act in unison.

In a single-parent family, it must be equally clear that the parent is
neither friend nor sibling, and that his/her life does not revolve around the child. It must be established that the single parent has a life of his/her own, completely independent of parenting responsibilities. A parent cannot be devoted to a child and define limits effectively. Nor can a parent be in a position of “service” to a child and promote the steady growth of autonomy. In my travels I also hear a number of parents saying that rearing children is the hardest, most difficult, most taxing thing they’ve ever done.

Not if you keep your priorities straight, it isn’t.

Reblogged from the John Rosemond Facebook page: Copyright 1990 John K. Rosemond

Raising Well-Behaved Children

Psychologist and author John Rosemond offers parents sound, biblically-based advice on disciplining children.

Listen online, or purchase the download.

Episode Transcript


John Fuller: Are your children driving you crazy? Maybe you’re constantly battling with discipline issues and you’re just really frustrated. Well, if so, stay tuned. Today’s “Focus on the Family” is just for you, as we talk about some good old-fashioned discipline that can really work. Your host is Focus president and author, Jim Daly and I’m John Fuller.

Today we’ll hear a conversation with psychologist, John Rosemond, that we recorded with an audience in Asheville, North Carolina. I always appreciate what John has to say. He’s so very practical and he’s encouraging, too. He’s written 17 best-selling books, including The Well-Behaved Child. And he says his grandmother could’ve written that book because discipline really hasn’t changed all that much. And he’ll explain that as we begin. Here’s Jim Daly.


Jim Daly: John, we’re seeing evidence of a real lack of disciplined training, if we want to call it that. It may be true that the style of discipline hasn’t changed, but the application seems to have changed. So, what’s goin’ on in the culture? Are we just disciplining less? Are we disciplining with weaker tools?

John Rosemond: Well, I think one of the things is, that parents used to intuitively understand the discipling of a child was a leadership function and that you did it through leadership, the enactment of leadership principles.

And what has happened over the last 45 to 50 years in America, ever since what I call the “psychological parenting revolution” occurred in the late 60s and early 70s, is we have substituted the attempt to form relationships with children for leadership of children.

And one of the things that I say all the time, is look, the idea, the goal of having a wonderful relationship with your children’s a fine thing. But the fact of the matter is, that you have to put leadership first. Leadership is the horse that pulls the cart.

And the problem in America today is, all too many parents are putting the cart out in front of the horse, with good intentions, but it’s blowing up culturally in our faces in the form of behaviors on the part of children today that you just didn’t see 50 plus years ago.

Jim: Let’s pull this out a little bit, because I’m thinking of Josh McDowell, who talks about this idea that rules without relationship lead to rebellion. (Laughter) And I like that statement, but you’re saying, don’t go overboard with that. Am I hearing you right?

John R.: Well, I don’t want to, you know, contradict Josh. I think he and I would probably, if we sat down and talked about this, we would probably come to some sort of a—

John F.: Understanding.

John R.: –understanding, yes. I was trying to think of the French word.

Jim: I would know that word.

John R.: Yeah, uh …

John F.: Is that détente?

John R.: Obviously, yeah, Détente, yeah, that’s the word. (Laughter) But you know, I even wrote a newspaper column about this, saying that the alliteration, “rules without relationship leads to rebellion,” and it’s very seductive as an author to think up alliterative catchy kinds of things. And when you think them up, to begin believing that they’re really true. And I think if Josh and I talked, he would agree that you just, you know, you need leadership before you can form a really viable relationship with your children.

Jim: I was just gonna add to that, that it seems to me one of the great difficulties is, for us in the Christian community, it tends to be a switch. We’re usually all this way or all that way. We don’t like to live in ambiguity, in the middle somewhere. It sounds like what you’re saying is, keep leadership at the forefront, but certainly develop a relationship with your children.

John R.: Well, you know, and that’s a good point, Jim, because people misunderstand, that we’ve drifted away from this understanding in our culture. And so, people misunderstand this and they you know, they’ll say, well, are you saying I shouldn’t have fun with my children? I shouldn’t, you know, do recreational things with my kids? I shouldn’t take my son out in the backyard and throw a baseball back and forth?

And I’m saying, no, no, no. You can have fun, but there just needs to be the understanding that you are not seeking your son’s approval, that you are a discipler in this relationship. And I think that, that … these understandings that I talk about used to be implicit to parenting in America. And I think we have fallen away from these understandings and I think we’ve done so largely because of propaganda emanating from my profession and from—

Jim: Ah.

John R.:–propaganda that’s been emanating from my profession for the last 40 years—

Jim: When you look at it, at its core, what does that look like? How have they been so successful in changing the mind of a culture that kinda knew what the nose on their face looked like when it came to discipline? Now it’s, where’s my nose?

John R.: Yeah. Well, they’ve been very successful because of the capital letters after their name and the media rallied behind them, as they were emerging, these voices, these expert parenting voices in the mid-60s, late 60s.

And I happen to believe and I am a psychologist, you know, I hold a license from the North Carolina Psychology Board and I say this with no irony whatsoever, that they regret the day they ever gave me a license. (Laughter) Because I go around the country and I tell what I believe is the truth, which is, my profession has created, caused more problems for the American family and the American child than we even know how to solve.

And it’s time that (Clearing throat) in American parenting, and this is what I attempt to do through what I call my ministry, is to recover the attitude that people brought to the raising of children in the pre-psychological era. And I’m a member of the last generation of American children who were raised by parents who were not thinking psychologically. They weren’t even trying to improve us. And today, it’s child improvement.

What they were doing through the raising of us and the proper discipling of us, was to try and improve America and honor God. And I think that those are the only two legitimate purposes in the raising of children in this country.

Jim: Let’s talk about what you called “old-fashioned discipline.” That’s another way to say it. What does old-fashioned discipline look like?

John R.: Old-fashioned discipline is biblically based. Our first settlers came over, carrying with them a biblical paradigm for living their lives in every area of life. And this biblical paradigm was handed from generation to generation, from the mid-1600s. And to use an analogy from a Fleetwood Mac song—I’m a (Laughter) rock aficionado—we broke the chain. [FYI: Song by Fleetwood Mac, “The Chain”} It was my generation that broke the chain.

It came time for us to take this paradigm as it applied to the raising of children, to honor our mothers and our fathers, by respecting what they had done for us. And instead, we rejected it and it lies in the dust in America today.

And this is my ministry, is to persuade people at an individual level and as a couples’ level, to pick this baton, if you will, to mix my metaphors, to pick it up and to dust it off and to begin using it once again.

It’s interesting. The fifth commandment says, “Honor your father and your mother,” but it also says, “so that you will live long in the land the Lord God has given you.” And to me, what that means is, in part I’m sure, only in part, that by transmitting these fundamental principles and these fundamental traditions from generation to generation, you stabilize culture. And you insure the longevity of culture.

And I think that this was one reason why America as a culture, is in such a state of difficulty and deterioration today. It is because we have abandoned these fundamental principles and traditions as we embraced the myth of post-modernity.

Program Note:

John: John Rosemond is our guest on today’s “Focus on the Family.” This was recorded earlier in Asheville, North Carolina. And John speaks with great wisdom, doesn’t he? He’s a trained psychologist. He’s a parent of two grown children and grandparent to seven grandchildren. And his book is called The Well-Behaved Child. That’s just one of many titles, but that’s the one that relates to the content today, The Well-Behaved Child. We’ll continue the discussion now and I’ll encourage you to get the download or listen to the enter broadcast at Here again, Jim Daly.

End of Program Note:

Jim: Let’s get to some practical advice for moms and dads. We understand the backdrop. We understand we’re in a difficult culture, that society is not gonna help us the way it did years ago when our kids were outside playing. In fact, now we have to worry about all kinds of things and we don’t want ’em to be at the park at a certain time and we only let ’em go outside for a certain time, whatever it might be.

But let’s talk about how you change a culture, one family at a time. That’s what we’re all trying to do in the Christian community—live it well, let others see it, experience it, so that they might embrace Christ and also live it well. That’s what transforms culture. Talk to us about the parenting approach. What are some of the things that children are doing today that need to be reined in?

John R.: Well, here’s the thing and this is what I tell parents all over the culture, all over the country. You and I’m talking you, you parents, you believe that these problems are emanating from your children and the fact it, that the overwhelming majority of these problems are a function of your parenting style.

And if you can come to grips with that and accept that, it’s very liberating, because when you realize that you have been trying to change the wrong people, and that you’ve been making an effort. It’s very difficult to change someone else, even if the person in question is a 5-year-old child, when you understand that the person that needs to be changed in this equation is you, and that’s the easiest person for you to change, that is very, very liberating.

And so, I say to parents, you know, who tell me, I have an argumentative child, John. I say, no you don’t. You just simply provide explanations. You are justifying the decisions that you are making to your child. You are justifying the instructions and the justification, the explanation provides the child with all he needs to push back against you with.

And so, when you stop giving explanations, when you strip your instructions and you strip your decisions down to a minimum of words, you simply say what you mean, mean what you say, you’re going to find that these arguments stop.

Why do today’s children not hear the words, “Because I said so.” (Laughter) Well, we heard them because our parents did not give us explanations. And so, I’m saying “us,” we Baby Boomers, that forced us to ask, “Why?” or “Why not?” to which we were told, “Because I said so.”

Today’s children don’t hear this and people say, well, people don’t use that expression anymore. I say, no, no, no. They don’t hear it because their parents are explaining themselves up front, which causes the child to push back.

John F.: John, I’m guilty of trying to explain things to my kids, so I don’t like talking to you right now. (Laughter) So, (Laughter I’m–

Jim: Thanks for fessing up, John.

John F.: –feeling pretty guilty about that.

Jim: Get me off the hook.

John F.: But go into why we do that. I mean, I’m thinking that I’m helping my child to understand logic and to see through my lens so they can assume some level of responsibility in this process. Is that so wrong?

John R.: No, no, there are times when, you know, there’s a time for everything. And we should always understand, it just ain’t the whole time. (Laughter)

John F.: Is this an age kind of thing, where when they get older you explain less or more?

John R.: No, I think you do explain more as they become teenagers. That’s what I call “the season of mentoring,” where you begin to really actively, you know, take this worldview that you have hopefully instilled and you begin to help your child refine that worldview during his or her teenage years.

And so, it is essential that you begin explaining your worldview and your worldview is the foundation of all the decisions that you have made as a parent. That’s what anchors your worldview and makes it consistent from decision, decision to decision and instruction to instruction.

Jim: John, let me again bring it to a practical point with our parenting. What kind of behavior does a child that’s in trouble display? And why are they displaying it? Just pick it out of the top of your head there, whatever it might be—anger issues, defiance. What’s the behavior, and then what can a parent do to begin to address those behaviors?

John R.: Well, I think it’s all sorts of behaviors. It can be tantrums at the age of 4. It can be defiance at the age of 4 or 5. It can be social issues that the child is having.

Jim: Let’s take defiance and work that one through. Let’s say you have that 4-, 5-, 6-year-old, who is what many in your profession call “strong-willed.” And you know, they’re showing that and they’re confronting you at every turn. What should a parent do to get ahold of their strong-willed child?

John R.: You know, and I tend to answer questions in terms of anecdotes. A mother came up to me in Easley, South Caroline a few years ago. And she said, “John, I’ve got a 5-year-old who won’t do what he’s told.”

Jim: (Laughing)

John R.: And this was the actual conversation. I said, “Well, I don’t believe that.” (Laughter) And she said, “What are you talking about?” And I said, ” I’ve never heard of a 5-year-old who wouldn’t do what he was told.” “Well, then you’ve never heard of my son, ’cause he won’t do anything I tell him to do; (Laughter) about anything and ever …”

I said, “No, I’ve never heard of your son, but you’ve told me an awful lot about you without really meaning to.” She said, “What do you mean?” I said, “Well, you’ve told me you don’t tell you son to do anything, because my experience is, that if children are told, they do what they’re told.” But what today’s parents are doing is not telling; they’re pleading, bargaining, bribing. I’ve got this memorized, so it comes out very smoothly and I’m a public speaker. (Laughter)

Pleading, bargaining, bribing, cajoling, reasoning, explaining, encouraging, suggesting and promising. And when none of that works, then they threaten and then they scream and then they feel bad and then they do something special for the child and make up for their guilt and then they go right back to pleading, bargaining, bribing, you know, and so on and so forth. (Laughter)

And you know, I said to this woman, “When you start telling your child, your child will begin doing what he is told.” It’s a function of your leadership style. And this is not complicated; if you understand it that way, it’s very, very simple. And the problems become clear and the solutions become clear.

We’re hooked on methods. It started with time out. And I think today’s parents are following that theme of very short-sighted in their parenting.

My mother used to tell me what her mission was. (Laughter) John Rosemond, it’s my job to help you learn to stand on your own two feet. And you won’t learn to stand on yours if I let you stand on mine. (Laughter) And I heard it, you know, often, I mean often enough that the words are sort of burned into my memory. And you know, as a kid you hear stuff like that and you go, “What in the world is she talking about?” You know, but you become an adult and you suddenly in retrospect realize the gift that you were given.

Jim: John, let me ask you though, sometimes you’re talking about that cycle. Did you feel guilty about that, John?

John F.: I feel guilty pretty much (Laughter) every time we talk. I’m—

Jim: I’m as guilty as you are.

John F.: –I’m learnin’, Jim.

Jim: Yeah. But you talk about that cycle. How does a parent stop? Cynthia Tobias, who we’ve had on the broadcast many times, you know, she was a school teacher and police officer, a great combo to know authority. And that’s her big thing. She says, when you speak to your children, speak with authority and you’ll begin to see that response. Okay, I’ll do it. But so often today parents are moving right to anger or bursting out against their children, which does great damage to a child.

John R.: One of the problems in American culture today and American parenting culture is what I call “The Good Mommy Club.” And the rules of The Good Mommy Club, the rules of membership in The Good Mommy Club are such that they make inevitable that the female parent is going to experience a tremendous amount of stress in the raising of children and the stress is going to be expressed on some frequency in the form of cerebral meltdowns.

And you know, the rules of The Good Mommy Club, the good mommy pays as much attention to her children as she possibly can. So, my mother expected me to pay attention to her. The good mommy does as much for her children as she possibly can. My mother expected me to do for myself and on a daily basis, was for my benefit dedicating herself to doing as little for me as she possibly could.

And what I am saying to American women all over the country is, look, all of the rules have turned 180 degrees in the last 50 years. Your mother, your grandmother especially, didn’t go through her parenting career screaming on a regular basis at her children. Why is this happening today?

And these are things that are problems that are embedded in our parenting culture today, that you know, I go around the country and I say, “Look, my mission is two-fold. It’s mother liberation from the constraints of The Good Mommy Club and marriage restoration.”

Jim: And both those things happen if you’re parenting well usually.

John R.: I think both of those things happen if you’re following biblical principle in your parenting, which begins with mom and dad being one flesh. That’s where the relationship is. And there’s and in my estimation and I think it’s not arguable, there is nothing that puts a more solid foundation of security and well-being under a child’s feet than the knowledge that his parents are in a committed, not perfect, but a committed relationship.

Jim: John, we’re wrappin’ up and I want to give hope to that mom and I want to give hope to that mom or that dad or both of them, because they’re dealing with a child (Chuckling) that they have created (Laughter), I guess is the best way to say it. You gotta think about your words as you’re talkin’ to John here. (Laughter) It’s not in their DNA perhaps, but we have created this monster. And what do they do today? How do they stop from thinking that and start readdressing their own parenting styles? What are one or two, three things they could do right now as they hear this program, rather than fight with your child tonight around the supper table, what can they do to turn the tide?

John R.: Well, I am absolutely convinced that we have become a nation of child-focused families. And it is undeniable that in the typical American family, the parents are talking more to the children on a weekly basis than they are talking to one another. They are acting more interested in the children and what they’re doing than they are in what each other have done during the day while they were apart from one another.

They are more considerate, they are more courteous toward the children. They are more careful in how they speak to the children. And it goes on and on and on and on. And all of this is very well-intentioned, but it’s out of whack.

We need and our children need more than anything else I think in America and this will strengthen the family, strengthen childrearing, strengthen children, but perhaps most importantly, it will strengthen America, if we can restore the primacy of the marriage to the America family. You know, I’m a member of the last generation that prefaced things that way. I’m a member of the last generation of American children who grew up in homes where it was clear that your parents were married.

Now they may not have had a wonderful marriage, but they were married. And I think that today’s kids are not seeing marriages. They are seeing two people who are oftentimes not even working together very well, who are totally focused on them.

And I think this. in and of itself, because God wants husband and wife to be one flesh. That’s clear. And when you do not obey God in any area of your life, you are going to bring down problems on your head. It doesn’t matter what your intentions are. Intentions do not determine outcome. And so, the one thing I say to people all over the country is, get yourself back together.

How do you do that? Just ask yourself 10 times a day, what can I do for him or what can I do for her? Because a strong marriage is all about service. It’s all about being a servant.

Jim: Well, and they talk about the idea that if you want to be the best parent you can be, then love your spouse.

John R.: Exactly.

Jim: That’s a full statement.

John R.: Charlie Shedd said that, I believe.

Jim: Well, it’s well-said. It’s so good to have you with us and again, we’ll post some of these thoughts and ideas on the website, so folks can access them. John, it’s great to have you with us here in Asheville, North Carolina.

John R.: It’s been my honor–

Jim: And let me say—

John R.: –Jim and John. Thank you.

Jim: –it’s been great to have all of you with us, as well. God bless you.

John R.: God bless you all.

Audience: (Applause)


John F.: You could tell that Jim and I and the audience enjoyed the conversation with psychologist, John Rosemond and we’re very glad to have featured him a number of times over the years on “Focus on the Family.” As I said earlier, this was a recorded conversation. We had an audience in Asheville, North Carolina and it was a very informative and helpful time.

John’s book that really relates to what we’ve talked about today is The Well-Behaved Childand as you can tell, his foundation is the Scripture and he’ll walk you through some very practical steps to parenting effectively in this book. Ask for it when you get in touch with us here at Focus on the Family.

And we’re a not-for-profit ministry. We rely on the generous support of friends like you to keep doing the work that we do of coming alongside parents and encouraging them and offering helpful advice to strengthen marriages. And we need your assistance and so, when you make a gift of any amount today to the ministry, we’ll send John Rosemond’s book to you. It’s our way of saying thanks and also putting a good practical resource into your hands. Donate today when you call 800, the letter A and the word FAMILY; 800-232-6459 or

Our program was provided by Focus on the Family and on behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team, thanks for listening in. I’m John Fuller, inviting you back next time. We’ll hear from Mrs. Bo Stern and she’ll share about her husband’s battle with ALS. It’ll inspire you to draw closer to God and it’ll help you and your family thrive.



Today’s Special Offer

Receive a copy of John Rosemond’s book The Well-Behaved Child with your donation of any amount!

Give Now

<!– [if !supportLists]>· FEATURED BOOK

Parenting by the Book

John Rosemond

Family psychologist Dr. John Rosemond offers biblical wisdom for raising children that reduces the anxiety and frustration that many parents experience today.

Buy Now


Surviving the Strong-Willed Child

Author and speaker Cynthia Tobias offers plenty of practical advice for frazzled parents of strong-willed children.

Buy Now


Effective Child Discipline

Chip Ingram

How do you get your children to obey, and what should you do when they won’t?

Read More


Healthy Discipline for Adopted Children

Sandra Lundberg

When you discipline your adopted child, you need to consider her chronological age as well as her emotional age.

Read More

More Episode Resources

Reblogged from Focus on the Family

Why? Isn’t always the best question.. or sometimes Odd is just odd!

When a problem in a child “becomes” a disorder, it is rarely, if ever, cured in a day.

When children develop problems, they need parents who are authoritative, not anxious. Anxiety and authority are incompatible. The former cancels the latter.

Anxiety reflects the now-ubiquitous tendency of parents to “think psychologically” about problems that arise in or with their kids. This sort of thinking prevents problem-solving-not sometimes, but always-because the question “Why is this happening?” prevents a parent from focusing on what to do about it. The “Why?” question induces what I call “disciplinary paralysis.”

We seem to have forgotten that children do odd things sometimes. These odd things do not necessarily indicate a problem. Sometimes, odd is nothing more than odd.

Odd is just odd

by John Rosemond

The mother of a 4-year-old boy shared an interesting story with me the other day. At age 2, her son began chewing meat to the point where it became liquid, but would not swallow. The parents became worried and began attempting various means of persuading him to swallow. Nothing worked, which increased the parents’ anxiety and, likewise, the energy they put into the swallowing project.

Finally, the mother read a book of mine in which I describe a technique I developed called “The Doctor.” It’s actually a modification of an approach to children developed by Milton Ericson, an outlier psychiatrist whose offbeat, creative work has never been given its due in the mental health community.

Full disclosure: Whenever, in this column, I have written about this technique, mental health professionals have complained that it may well cause children to be anxious about real doctors. To that, I can only say that over the perhaps 20 years that I’ve disseminated this recommendation concerning various problems involving young children, not one parent has ever reported that a child developed doctor anxiety. Furthermore, the “cure” rate of childhood fears, anxieties, and even major behavior problems has been remarkable.

The method involves simply telling the child in question that The Doctor has said that the problem, whatever it is, is due to lack of sleep. Therefore, until the problem has completely disappeared for a certain period of time, or on any day that the problem occurs, the child must go to bed immediately after the evening meal. Other privileges can also be made part of a package of consequences, but early bedtime usually does it.

Concerning the meat-chewing 4-year-old, the parents told him, “We visited with a doctor today and told him that you chew meat and won’t swallow it. He told us that this happens when a child isn’t getting enough sleep. He told us that when you chew meat and won’t swallow it, that you have to go to bed right after supper.”

That evening, the child had to go to bed right after supper. From that point on, he has chewed and swallowed, chewed and swallowed, chewed and swallowed. No problem since.

There are four points to the story, the first of which is that if the parents’ had consulted a mental health professional, there is some likelihood the child would have become afflicted with a disorder of some sort-sensory integration disorder, perhaps. When a problem becomes a disorder, it is rarely, if ever, cured in a day.

The second point is that the mother now realizes her anxiety was one reason-perhaps THE reason-why the problem worsened over a two-year period. When children develop problems, they need parents who are authoritative, not anxious. Anxiety and authority are incompatible. The former cancels the latter.

The third point is that the mother’s anxiety reflected the now-ubiquitous tendency of parents to “think psychologically” about problems that arise in or with their kids. This sort of thinking prevents problem-solving-not sometimes, but always-because the question “Why is this happening?” prevents a parent from focusing on what to do about it. The “Why?” question induces what I call “disciplinary paralysis.”

The fourth point is that we seem to have forgotten that children do odd things sometimes. These odd things do not necessarily indicate a problem. Sometimes, odd is nothing more than odd.

More of Family psychologist John Rosemond on his web site at

And thousands of Articles and Questions Answered at


Bringing Up Bébé | Vive’ la France!

Vive’ la France!

Last year, a Chinese-American Tiger Mother told American parents how to raise children who will make straight A’s and play Carnegie Hall before they reach puberty.

This year, the French are showing us how to raise children who will obey, throw few if any tantrums, and sit quietly in restaurants, listening while adults talk about adult things. Vive’ la France!

In a nutshell, French parents do such “revolutionary” things as establish early boundaries between themselves and their children, teach them proper manners, expect them to entertain themselves, and make it perfectly clear that they are not to interrupt adult conversations, and set clear limits. In addition, they are not reluctant to deny their children’s requests, and when they correct their kids, they speak with conviction. I conclude that my parents were French. All my friend’s parents were French as well, it seems.

Pamela Druckerman, the author of “Bringing Up Bebe,” one of the year’s most talked-about books (to date), is too young to realize that her description of French parenting is also a description of the manner in which American children were raised prior to the psychological parenting revolution of the late 1960s and early 1970s—before, that is, experts (of which I am considered one) came along and ruined everything. In that regard, it is significant to note that French parents, as a rule, do not read parenting books. Instead, they honor the parenting traditions established generations ago by their foremothers and forefathers.

As a consequence, raising a child in 2012 France is no more of a hassle than was raising a child in 1912 France…or before. For more than 30 years, I have been trying to persuade America’s parents to restore pre-1960s parenting in their homes—that being the time when chores were a child’s number one after-school activity, television was a “boob tube” only to be watched if the weather did not permit outside play, parents did not help with homework (and kids did better in school than today’s kids), and children did what they were told simply because that was the clear expectation.

The most oft-voiced retort: “But John! Times have changed!”

To which I point out that times have always changed, but parenting did not—not until experts said it should, that is (they had new ideas!).

Contrary to what American parents have been led to believe, effective parenting is not comprised of a set of “right” methods (which can only be learned by reading the experts). It is an attitude, a way of presenting oneself to one’s children. If the attitude isn’t there, then no method will work for long. Furthermore, when it is there, methods will be virtually unnecessary.

This attitude communicates to a child: “I know what I am doing (I do not need, for example, to consult with you to determine foods will be on your plate at the evening meal); I know why I am doing it (for YOUR benefit, not mine); I know what I expect from you; and I know you are going to give me what I expect.” This attitude conveys unconditional love and, equally, unequivocal authority.

Anxiety, worry, guilt, rushing from one “commitment” to another: none of that conveys authority. Cool, calm, collected: that conveys authority. Pleading, bribing, threatening, yelling: nope. An economy of words, clearly spoken: yep.

From Ms. Druckerman’s description, it sounds like the typical French parent has an intuitive understanding of this “attitude thing.”But make no mistake: the French did not invent this. They have simply reminded us of the way it was and still can be.

Now, if they would only build a decent car.

.by John Rosemond

Continued on

Read to your young children

We have read John Rosemond for years. His common sense approach is one more parents should embrace. I highly recommend his books, and also suggest you check out research psychologist Jane Healy‘s book Endangered Minds. – billydie

June 14 Column:Readingto young children


Q:    In your book on 2-year-olds, you recommend reading to a child from early on. My problem is that every time I attempt to read to my 16-month-old son he grabs the book away, closes it, or wants to flip the pages himself. If I try to take it back from him, the battle is on, one that I do not wish to engage in. I am an avid reader, and I had hoped to instill a love of reading in him as well. I certainly don’t want to make reading an unpleasant experience for him. I’m sure there is a very commonsense solution that I am simply missing, and I hope you will enlighten me.

A:    I have consulted the oracles of commonsense and they recommend that you simply wait until your son is older and try again. Yes, reading to a child from as early as possible is beneficial in many ways. It stimulates a child’s interest in books, enriches imagination, enhances language development, provides a setting for a very nurturing parent-child experience, and stimulates the growing brain. I don’t know of any studies demonstrating that reading to a child increases IQ (it would be difficult to impossible to isolate that one variable), but it seems logical to me that it would.

So yes, I recommend that parents read to children from an early age.

Along with that, I recommend (based on a solid body of research) that preschool children watch absolutely zero television (research psychologist Jane Healy, author of Endangered Minds, recommends that children remain TV-free well into elementary school) and have absolutely no interaction with video games and computers.Readingto a preschooler and then letting him watch television (or play video games) is akin to taking one developmental step forward and then one developmental step backward.

But my entire recommendation reads as follows: Parents should read to a child from an early age as long as the child is willing to sit still and pay attention, obviously wants to be read to (goes and gets books and asks a parent to read to him), and the experience is enjoyable for both parent and child. If all those conditions are not yet in place by 16 months, there is absolutely nothing to worry about. Just keep offering the opportunity to your son. Don’t push. And stop worrying. Believe me, if he’s not receptive to the experience for another year that will not make any difference in the long run.