It’s easy to see that — although no one desires this — our culture has created a generation of youth who are entitled, ungrateful blamers and cryers when things don’t go their way.
In order to make a difference for our children, studying history is imperative. It will help us understand our past, which in turn allows us to understand our present. If we want to know how and why our children are going down the current path of entitlement, disrespect and disobedient behavior with the diagnoses of ADHD and ODD (oppositional defiant disorder), we must look to history for answers. People often say that “history repeats itself,” but if we study the successes and failures of the past, we can learn from our parents’ mistakes and avoid repeating them with our own children.
When it comes to parenting history, we don’t need to look too far. Before the mid-1920s, the “parenting industry” didn’t even exist. No one brought their children to a doctor for behavior issues like ADHD and ODD (oppositional defiant disorder) like we’re doing today.
So, What Was Different about Growing Up Back Then?
1. Purpose – Children had a purpose in the house. Parents had more children so they’d have more help. If a child wanted to eat, they were to contribute, to work, to be part of a tribe or community, and to get things done.
2. Life Skills – Children were taught life skills. Because the purpose for more children was more help on the farm, it was important to spend time with them so the parents could duplicate themselves.
3. Earning Privileges: Wealth back then was having a good crop to sell in the summer, so if a child wanted to do something or have something like a fishing pole, he earned it!
4. Corporal Punishment: When a child did something that a parent or a teacher didn’t like, they would simply beat the child or lock him in a closet.
The concept was very much “Do as I say, or else!”
Beating children with switches and locking them in closets were normal forms of corporal punishment and expected of an adult when a child was in any way defiant. Can you imagine the repercussions of doing that today?
A New Understanding
Parenting became a word about 300 years ago when Dr. John Locke studied the psychology of children. He expressed with passion the fact that children are born without any inherent idea of how the world works and to think they are is absurd.
Children not born knowing what manners are, how to tie their shoes, how to drive a car, how to ask somebody for something respectfully, or how to sit properly on a chair to eat dinner.
Locke pointed out that children are born with a perfect blank slate: a mind open and ready for whatever his or her parents are open to putting in there.
This doesn’t mean that children are born without a specific personality. It doesn’t mean that they’re not individuals because, of course, they are.
What he recognized was that children are born with pure potential and that they’re better off guided than punished. Still, for hundreds of years, society used corporal punishment to domesticate their young — beatings and torture.
It’s important to remember that children were only children for a short time. In the 1920s teenagers as young as thirteen were considered adults. They were off building their own houses, having babies and getting married.
There was no blaming. It was this “If it’s to be, it’s up to me!”
“If I want to have a house, I will have to build it.”
That’s how the world was, and really still is, or it should be. Right?
The parenting industry was birthed right before the great depression when western society of wealth began with the digging of oil and the industrial revolution.
Parents were being taught that if they catered to their child’s every whim…you know when you pick up the baby because he is crying? If your baby is struggling to get up on a chair and you come along and help the baby up on the chair?
John Watson, a child psychologist from the 1920s, shared in his popular childrearing book, Psychological Care of the Infant and Child, that if you kissed and coddled your babies, that they were going to be a wussy adult.
This is the exact time that mothers began to doubt their instincts and focus more on the scientific studies of parenthood. Babies were on a very strict feeding and sleeping schedule. If you wavered off that schedule, you were considered to be a bad parent.
Arguments about parenting were more whether they should give a little whiskey to their babies to help them sleep, or how warm the bathing water should be.
Everything changed in 1946 when Dr. Benjamin Spock wrote a book called “Baby and Child Care.” Spock’s book sold more copies than any other non-fiction book for 52 years in a row — with the exception of the King James Bible.
For the first time in the history of the world, parents were being taught to cater to their children’s every whim. They were taught that their children required a massive amount of attention and if they didn’t get it, they would become angry and act out in negative ways of rebellion.
Parents born in the 40s, 50s, or 60s were born in a very confusing time. Spankings and beating children had just become outlawed, but that’s how they were raised.
JFK once quoted: “Children are only as good as what they have been taught.” Well, aren’t you and I just adult children who are only as good what we’ve been taught?
If our parents were only as good as they were taught, being raised in this very dictatorial kind of way with much physical and emotional abuse, and then by the time they became parents, everything had changed, can you see how easily we got here?
I can remember my young mother freaking out: “Spock says don’t spank! I don’t know what to do to get you to listen to me!” And, yelling and nagging became part of how to scare a child into listening to adult requests.
Spock is the inventor of naughty time and takeaways with what we know as the Authoritative parenting style. Think Supernanny.
It’s also important to note that Spock’s grandson committed suicide by jumping off the building, and his father (Spock’s son) worked at on Christmas Eve…do you think he had a message to share?