This week several of my posts prompted discussion among readers about parenting – or more specifically, the decline of good parenting. This is an extremely difficult subject to tackle if for no other reason than most people have a stake in the discussion, and naturally we all want to think of ourselves as good parents. Whether we are or not is another matter, but criticizing other people’s parenting never goes over well. Everyone knows parenting in America has changed immeasurably (and not for the better) and that admitting this is half the battle. Unfortunately, solving it — if that’s even possible –means stepping on some toes.
In the interest in taking myself out of the discussion (I’ve covered this topic enough in the past 10 years), I’ll point to the best book I’ve ever read about this subject: Born Liberal, Raised Right. Many parenting books are political in nature, but this is the only one that explains in detail exactly when, how, and why parenting in America took a turn for the worse. The author’s argument is that liberalism is to blame.
Stay with me.
It’s a theory, really – but a good one. The author’s premise is that all human beings are born liberal, and by that he means this: “Children start off life with a will-to-be-gratified, and if it is not brought in check when they are young, they will arrive at adulthood with the same self-focused, passion-driven worldview they had as toddlers.”
Bradley explains that it takes a conservative upbringing to quell a child’s natural desire for self-interest — and adds that most parents today, most of whom are children of baby boomers, were not raised in socially conservative households (though some of their parents may vote Republican for financial reasons). Thus, they were not taught self-control as a virtue — and few have trained their own children to have it. “Fifty years ago, America was a more moral place – not because of government programs or tighter gun controls, and not because schools were better funded. Our communities and schools were safer because parents raised their children to not act on their every whim.”
In other words, before the baby boomers came along with their trendy worldview of Self first, Others last, life in America was a far better place from a moral standpoint. People in the past were no different than they are today — but they had greater self-control. They did not allow themselves to be ruled by their passions. Modern Americans, on the other hand, have been encouraged to focus on the Individual above all else. Thus, they grow up “with an exalted view of their own importance and are merely exercising what they think is their right to express their feelings in protest of an unreasonable request by an authority figure.”
Such is the mentality of modern liberalism.
In a nutshell, the kids of baby boomers – and now their kids – have rarely been told “No.” Instead, they’ve been encouraged to express their creativity and ignore societal constraints. The result is a nation of people who believe they’re entitled. They’re “rights” are far more important than anything else, and personal responsibility has fallen by the wayside. This is a horrendous environment in which to raise children, and we have the modern liberal mind (which is not to be confused with the authentic liberal mind) — to thank for it.
(Incidentally, before I get walloped by a bunch of well-meaning liberal parents, let me add this: That modern liberalism has wreaked havoc on parenting doesn’t mean that all conservatives or libertarians make great parents or that parenting prior to the 1960s was perfect. I didn’t say either one of these things — so please do not make that leap.)