I never cease to be amazed at the reactions people sometimes have to things I say. Most recently, a significant number of folks – women, all – were outraged over something I posted online: In a family, the husband/wife relationship should come first, meaning it should outweigh the relationship between parent and child. Said another way, the marriage is the most important relationship in the family and that should be clear to the children. Husband and wife should pay more attention to one another than they pay to the children (an infant being a temporary exception).
I now stand accused of not possessing any real understanding of what being a parent is all about. In addition, I am obviously not cognizant of or sensitive to the emotional needs of children. Make no mistake, the majority of people who responded to this post have a grip on common sense (i.e., they agreed with me), but the emotional virulence of the opposition was almost palpable.
I have said this before in this column, but it obviously bears saying again: I am a member of the last generation of American children to grow up in marriage-centric households. With rare exception, we boomers were second fiddle to our parents. Despite growing up in this condition of parenting incorrectness, our mental health was a whole lot better than the mental health of today’s kids. Furthermore, in spite of mothers who felt that our homework was not their responsibility, we outperformed today’s kids at every grade level (and most of us came to first grade not knowing our ABCs). We had no behavior disorders; rather, we simply misbehaved. We emancipated much earlier and much more successfully than today’s young people. We were loved adequately, but we were not the center of attention. We were not the objects of frequent adult concern.
To people my age, the notion that the marriage trumps the parent/child relationship is common sense, an example of which is the following statement: Nothing puts a more solid foundation of security under a child’s feet than the knowledge that his/her parents are in a committed relationship.
Then again, people my age are also painfully aware that common sense has given way to correctness, especially as regards the raising of children. Today, the highly destructive doctrine of the Good Mommy Club defines proper child-rearing. The list of things the Good Mommy is supposed to be doing for her children boil down to one overarching dogma: The Good Mommy is in a near-constant state of high-energy parenting motion – she never stops thinking about and doing for her kids.
Therefore, something her grandmother did with relatively little effort is stressful, anxiety-, self-doubt-, and guilt-ridden – in a word, exhausting. In this context, to hear from a parenting pundit that you are exhausted simply because your priorities are out of order must be infuriating.
I get it, believe me. Unfortunately, and by definition, the folks who were outraged by said post do not.
Family psychologist John Rosemond: www.johnrosemond.com; www.parentguru.com