Personal & Family Well-Being
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Acting superior is not enough in parenting
In a recent Arkansas Democrat Gazette article, Mr. Rosemond makes a recommendation for handling a 13-year-old girl who is pleasant and helpful at school and surly and disagreeable at home. He recommends removing the door from her bedroom and refusing to return it until she has been pleasant with the family for at least a month.
Let’s switch roles. When you were a teen, would that have worked with you? Would you have seen the error of your ways and turned over a new leaf? Or would you have become more angry and resentful? I wonder why we think that actions that would not work with us are likely to work with our children.
Research on parenting is clear: If we live by the sword, we will die by the sword. The use of power with children results in passive or rebellious children; it does not create pleasant children.
Maybe Mr. Rosemond has missed the obvious. Since the daughter is agreeable away from home, maybe she is feeling insulted and judged at home. Rather than being a spoiled drama queen, maybe she is a family member who wants to feel heard and valued. Maybe her negativity is a plea for her parents to respond to her differently.
Research doesn’t recommend ignoring bad behavior. The mature way of responding to her unpleasantness is with compassion. “I wonder if you’re feeling alienated by your family.” Parents do not have to accommodate her preferences, but showing compassion can build a bridge of understanding.
Parenting is not designed just for raising good kids; it is designed also for helping adults become more wise, helpful, and patient.
Rosemond, J. (May 14, 2014). Removing door to room will open teen’s eyes. Arkansas Democrat Gazette, 5E.
To see Mr. Rosemond’s full article online, go to
For a summary of parenting research, see: Peterson, G. W., & Hann, D. (1999). Socializing children and parents in families. In M. B. Sussman, S. K. Steinmetz, & G. W. Peterson (Eds.), Handbook of marriage and the family (2nd ed., pp. 327-370). New York: Plenum Press.
For a practical book on parenting, see: Haim Ginott’s Between Parent and Child.