PARENTING: ; Force Child to Care about Misbehavior

By Rosemond, John | The Charleston Gazette (Charleston, WV), February 28, 2012 | Go to article overview

PARENTING: ; Force Child to Care about Misbehavior


Rosemond, John, The Charleston Gazette (Charleston, WV)


Parents tell me their daughter is intelligent and did well in school up until the seventh grade, at which time she stopped doing the required work and her grades, consequently, went down the proverbial tube.

My response: "Who cares?"

Parents tell me their 8-year-old son still has four or five "accidents" per week in his clothing. The child's pediatrician has determined that there is no physical problem (in which case, these stinky events are more accurately called "on purposes" or "lazies").

My response: "Who cares?"

The parents of a 15-year-old want to know what to do about his refusal to keep his bedroom and bathroom neat and clean. His possessions are strewn everywhere, he doesn't hang up his towels, he disposes of food by shoving it under his bed, and so on.

My response: "Who cares?"

Don't mistake my meaning here. I am not trivializing these problems. In each case, the parents have a legitimate complaint. I am simply asking these parents to identify the person or persons who is/are upset by the problem in question, because it is a simple fact that the person or persons who is/are upset by the problem will try to solve it. And therein lies the possible reason why these problems aren't being solved, because in each case the problem can only be solved by the child in question.

So, who cares that a seventh-grade girl is not accepting her academic responsibilities? Who cares that an 8-year-old is having frequent "lazies" in his clothing? Who cares that a teenager refuses to keep his living space orderly and clean?

In each case, I discover, it's the parents who care. They are upset. They are pulling their hair out. And in each case, the child does not care. The girl does not seem to care about her grades. The boy does not seem to care that he soils himself. The teen is oblivious to the mess that is his room and bathroom.

The fact is, that the wrong people care. The wrong people are upset. Therefore, the only people who can solve the problems have no reason to solve them. …

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