The Thinking 

Pushy Parenting

February 8, 2010


Alex A. from England writes:

An ongoing debate on TV over here has been concerned with the effects of “pushy parenting” on children. Do parents who put a contented marriage first and their children’s demands second, provide a more stable environment for raising children? It’s a commonplace to observe that children will divide and rule if parents don’t support each other in establishing reasonable boundaries. But perhaps modern child-centered imperatives are undermining the “united front” that parents often need to present in order to socialize their children successfully.

Advice from family therapist and Wall Street Journal writer David Code has entered the debate. He has written a book, which I haven’t read, entitled, To Raise Happy Kids, Put Your Marriage First.

If you have the time and inclination to read it, I have provided a link to a British newspaper article in which some of the issues are discussed.bigstockphoto_Apple_Tree_Black_And_White_Eng_6429051[1]



Laura writes:

How can it be that parenthood is avoided at all costs and then turns into a form of religious worship, a weird cult of the child? Our culture is hostile to children and yet so captivated by them.

A stable marriage is the first obligation of parents. A woman’s duty is to love her husband, and vice versa, and then her children.  It is strange to see divorced parents overwhelming their children with attention. Somewhere along the line, they’ve lost sight of first things. Children want to see their parents happy with each other, more than almost anything else in the world. They feel guilty and worried when their parents are not. Moderation is key. There are also couples absorbed in each other who ignore their children. 

Feminism is a school for marital hardship, encouraging negative and complaining attitudes toward husbands and a laissez-faire approach to marriage. It also leaves women with guilty consciences which they dispel with extravagant gestures of spoiling.  It’s become acceptable to criticize your spouse in front of others. This is one of the most common forms of spousal betrayal: the public trashing of a spouse. It’s a cardinal sin against marriage.

Parenthood strikes many modern adults with unnatural force. They have children later in life and women, unless they are elementary school teachers, are often removed from motherhood and the world of children before they have their own. The mystery and charm of their offspring can be overwhelmingly seductive. One can fall easily under a child’s spell, particularly in a culture that equates parental authority with psychological abuse and discourages large families. And, as I said, there is this form of cult-like worship. Perhaps children are the last remnants of magic and beauty for many people, the last glimmers of supernatural light. With all the spoiling of children, they are often deprived of one of the greatest gifts, other than their parents’ stable marriages: siblings.

The trend to start building a resumé early is also to blame. The competition to get into college begins when children are under ten. It’s sick and parents should turn from it in revulsion.

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Alex A. writes:

You put your finger on something which has not been addressed in the debate on “pushy parenting’ – namely that it’s one of the undesirable payoffs from lifestyles promoted by feminism. This has been swept under the rug by the TV “personalities” who describe themselves as critics of pushiness.

The debate has concentrated on the primary need for a contented marriage as a backdrop for raising children. That’s understood, but it has tended to ignore any explanation for “pushiness” that questions a mother’s determination to keep a full-time job while her children are still at school. Pushiness is a compensation for not being there. A  parent’s guilt – especially a mother’s guilt at being absent from home where she knows she’s indispensable –  produces indulgent attitudes that can spoil a child or even make him neurotic. Feminist platitudes about a “woman’s place” ignore these inconvenient truths. It’s especially mendacious to pretend that women can “have it all”

Intimate affection between a husband and his wife might be a necessary condition for raising well-adjusted children, but it’s not sufficient.  A traditional family life in which the husband gives emotional and  active support to his wife in her arduous homemaking tasks, is the  antithesis of pushy parenting. The satisfaction of children’s needs  occupies a natural place in this well tried and tested environment.


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