mother children Children, Adolescents

 & the Family

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The Belligerent Parent

Most parents become angry and punish children who make mistakes or who are disruptive and defiant. Anger is the dominant obstacle to human happiness and peace. All anger is destructive and the best parent will learn to control angry outbursts in favor of a more diplomatic approach to child management.

No-one is perfect and anger is a powerful innate program so that even the best parent will sometimes become angry and cause some harm to children. An average parent will become angry several times everyday and will shout, criticize and blame children for their own shortcomings. Children of average parents adapt to a level of disturbance and uncertainty. They copy and display their parents’ angry behavior and later will pass on the legacy of anger, criticism and blame to their own children. Belligerent parents are tyrants who routinely criticize, blame, punish and injure their children. They live beyond the boundaries of a civil society and create problems that extend well beyond the walls of their unhappy homes.

Some belligerent parents belong to groups who support child abuse and even proclaim old doctrines such as the absolute power of fathers over their children. Strict fathers set strict rules, demand complete obedience to their rules and beat their children with belts, sticks, and other weapons. Often male authority over children is linked to male authority over adult women who are abused in a similar manner. Children who suffer from rough treatment and abuse learn that that is the way you behave and treat others with the same hostility that their parents manifest for the rest of their lives.

Corporal punishment in schools is less common than it was. The President of the American Academy of Pediatrics, Steve Berman stated:” Schools have no business meting out punishments on children that society has deemed too barbaric for use in prisons or the military. Americans are striving to teach children not to use violence to solve problems, not to bully others, and to respect themselves and other people. I don't see how children can learn these lessons when the very people who give them guidance -- their teachers and principals -- are leaving them bruised and battered. “ *

Progress in the creation of a civil society involves a more enlightened approach to parenting and more intervention by social policy and law when parents abuse their children. I have no doubt that children do best when they have loving parents who sing, dance, hug and kiss. When a happy, loving parent becomes angry, a trusting child experiences a crisis in confidence which the excellent parent resolves with an apology, an explanation, and a promise to do better next time.

* Berman S .Spare the Child. Letter to the Editor. NYT. May 12, 2001

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  • Children and the Family by Stephen Gislason MD examines the intense interactions of parents and children. From Dr. G's preface:" Parents receive a lot of advice from many people. Popular magazines and books offer a continuous stream of conflicting advice. Professionals have a variety of opinions about child-rearing that range from helpful suggestions to misleading and even bizarre ideas. Child psychology is an eclectic assembly of ideas, miscellaneous observations, opinions, fears and irrational beliefs. Confusion prevails in education about what children should learn and how they should learn it. If psychologists, physicians, and educators are confused, what about parents? Parenting is difficult and long-term relationships sometimes fail. The best parents are pragmatic and not theorists. They stay involved with their children, follow some basic guidelines they learned and tend to do whatever works. Good parents improvise childcare with a combination of innate generosity, common sense, love and concessions to the demands of modern life."

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    Additional recommended reading includes the books Intelligence & Learning,  Language and Thinking  Feeding Children and the Alpha Nutrition Program

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