Vicky and Jen interview John Rosemond about his latest book, The New Six-Point Plan for Raising Happy, Healthy Children.
Special Guest: John Rosemond, America’s most widely-read parenting authority! He is a best-selling author, columnist, speaker, and family psychologist.
In This Episode
- 00:41 – Welcome John
- 01:48 – Different From the “Competition”
- 03:20 – John’s Parenting Style
- 04:55 – Why Revise Your Book?
- 05:55 – Marriage Comes First
- 10:35 – Parenting is Leadership
- 12:58 – Are You Your Child’s Friend?
- 19:29 – You Made This Bed – Now Lie in it
- 21:25 – Caller: Jenny on Getting Child to Clean Room
- 23:37 – “No” is a Good Word
- 27:54 – Selecting Quality Toys
- 32:10 – Screen Time: Thoughts on T.V.
- 36:39 – John’s Family
- 37:56 – Final Parenting Tip
- 39:20 – Closing Comments
About John Rosemond
John Rosemond is a family psychologist & author of ten best-selling parenting books. His syndicated column appears weekly in more than 225 American newspapers. He is also the executive director of the Center for Affirmative Parenting in Gastonia, North Carolina. His credentials include a 38-year marriage, two happily married children, and six well-behaved grandchildren. For more information about John, visit his website.
About The New Six-Point Plan for Raising Happy, Healthy Children
This completely revised and updated edition of the parenting classic urges contemporary parents to follow six fundamental points for raising happy, healthy children:
Point 1: The secret to raising a happy, successful child is to give more attention to your marriage than you give to your child.
Point 2: The clue to proper parenting is to be both authoritatively loving and lovingly authoritative. In the real world, there is no possibility of a truly democratic relationship between parents and children – not as long as the children live at home and rely on parents for emotional, social, and economic protections.
Point 3: Our job as parents is to socialize our children. In order for children to become successful at the three R’s of reading, “riting”, and “rithmetic”, their parents must first teach them the three R’s of respect, responsibility, and resourcefulness.
Point 4: Frustration isn’t necessarily bad for children. In fact, a certain amount is absolutely essential to healthy character formation and emotional growth.
Point 5: Children need forms of play and exercise that require imagination, initiative, creativity, intelligence, resourcefulness, and self-reliance. Making do is not only the essence of truly creative play – which is itself the essence of childhood – it’s also the story of the advancement of the human race.
Point 6: Television, computers, and video games are constantly blinking, tasteless, odor-free counterfeits of the real world. Too much of their use encumbers children’s development and is unhealthy for the family as a unit, so parents need to start early and limit their children’s exposure.
Other Books by John Rosemond
- Teen-Proofing: Fostering Responsible Decision Making in Your Teenager
- Raising a Nonviolent Child
- Because I Said So! A Collection of 366 Insightful and Thought-Provoking Reflections on Parenting and Family Life
- Parent Power! A Common-Sense Approach to Parenting in the 90’s and Beyond
- Ending the Homework Hassle
- Making the “Terrible” Twos Terrific!
- To Spank or Not to Spank
- A Family of Value
- John Rosemond’s New Parent Power!
- Family Building: The Five Fundamentals of Effective Parenting
John Rosemond: Hello out there in listener land. This is family psychologist, author, and syndicated columnist, John Rosemond, coming to you from the Vicky and Jen show. What Really Matters.
Vicky & Jen: This is Vicky and Jen. Making life simple. So you can enjoy what really matters. We are absolutely thrilled to have parenting expert John Rosemond with us today. John is America’s most widely read parenting authority. He is the author of ten best selling parenting books. He writes a syndicated column that appears weekly in more than 225 American newspapers. A well-known speaker and family psychologist. And as if that’s not enough, he is the executive director of the Center for Affirmative Parenting in Gastonia North Carolina. He’s a husband, father, and a grandparent. John’s new book is called a Six Point Plan for Raising Happy, Healthy Children. John thank you for speaking with us today.
John Rosemond: Absolutely ladies, my pleasure. Thanks for inviting me on.
Jen: First we want to know why should people read about your six-point plan and how is it different than all the other millions of competing parenting books out there.
John Rosemond: Well I didn’t make it up for one thing. Most parenting experts they invent a philosophy, they invent advice. And I tell people all over the country as I tour the country speaking that what distinguishes my advice from other people’s, for the most part, is that my advice is not new. I’m not making this stuff up. I’m what I sometimes call the great parenting plagiarists.
John Rosemond: All this stuff was known and are regarded as just common sense before America experienced what I call the psychological parenting revolution of the 1960s. And we emerged from that believing that people with capital letters after their names knew what they were talking about. When in fact, they were just making it up. And what I do – I also say sometimes that I’m just channeling for Grandma it’s just old-fashioned common sense traditional advice.
Jen: Yeah I believe I read your philosophy on parenting was if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.
John Rosemond: That’s one attitude that I have about certain parenting issues or parenting problems. You know if things are going well don’t change horses in midstream. If it’s not broke don’t try and fix that if everything is proceeding well. Sure.
Jen: What would you title your parenting style?
John Rosemond: It’s traditional. It’s consistent with biblical principle. It’s old-fashioned in the sense that this is the way things used to be done. And in that regard, there is no evidence whatsoever that the philosophy that grounded parenting changed in Western civilization for thousands of years until the 1960s in America. We were the first culture at any time to break what I call the chain of parenting. It was axiomatic before the 1960s that you raised your children the way you yourself had been raised. And the 1960s changed that. And of course, it changed a lot of things. But I am a member of the first generation of American children to grow up and fail to honor their mothers and fathers in the way that we decided to raise our own kids. And we set off on a new course in the late 60s early 70s that haven’t worked. And I maintain that no matter how hard you work at it, it won’t work. It is a philosophy and a methodology based on false principle and it’s created chaos and childrearing in America.
Vicky: You wrote a six-point plan in 1989. What has changed and why did you feel that you needed to update your book?
John Rosemond: Well since 1989, I’ve just come up with new ways of saying the same things as the same six points. There’s been new research. I have realized over the years some novel ways of expressing these ideas and have added considerably to my own body of knowledge as a parenting expert for whatever the term was worth. So my publisher came to me and said it’s time to update the book and I agreed. And the new book really is new.
John Rosemond: I took out about 80 percent of the original content and replaced it with new fresh content and double the page count from the original book in the process so it really is a new take on the same six points.
Vicky: Can we talk a little bit about each of the six points.
John Rosemond: Sure. Do you want me to go ahead and do that?
Vicky: Well yeah, let’s start with the very first chapter. The very first point you’ve referred to it is the parent-centered family.
John Rosemond: Right. The parent centers of the marriage-centered family. And my point there very briefly is that children are raised better by two people who are functioning primarily as husband and wife than they are by two people who are functioning primarily as mother and father and that in and of itself is a very fundamental understanding that was implicit to our parenting culture until the 1960s that the two adults in the family, assuming there were two, functioned in their primary roles and the primary roles were husband and wife.
John Rosemond: The norm today has become that parents are functioning primarily from within the roles of mother and father. And what that does is it puts the children at the center stage in the family and creates a lot more stress in childrearing than would otherwise be the case. Child rearing precedes fairly and a fairly relaxed easy going way if people understand that no matter how many children you have your primary role if you’re the female in a household is that of a wife it’s not mother and your primary role if you are the male as husband and that in fact you will be more comfortable within your own skin if you maintain those roles as primary and only put on the roles of mother and father as needed. And occasionally when you just feel like it. But they should definitely be the secondary roles in the family.
Jen: Well how does how does that change or does your opinion change at all when the women aren’t necessarily stay at home homemakers anymore and maybe they go out and make the money. Does that change your position on that a little better?
John Rosemond: No. And it doesn’t change my position considerably either of the female or the male as a single parent with custody. I grew up with a mother who was a single parent for most of the first seven years of my life. During that time, she worked of necessity. She also went to college almost of necessity. And when she was at home you know her it was clear to me that I was important to her but it was also clear to me and I think this is very important for children of single parents that there are other things of importance. To their single parents as well and for single parents to actually work hard at making sure that their children don’t think that they are the center of attention. My mother did a very very good job of that and it was, in fact, liberating for her for both herself and myself as well. I maintain that children feel more comfortable when they are not the center of attention regardless of whether they are being raised by a two parent family or one parent family.
Jen: You know they might see that like a little more pressure.
John Rosemond: Children get addicted to being at the center of attention. And it’s an addiction that once established a child doesn’t know how to break in fact the child has not realized even that he is or has become an attention addict. But anybody who has ever seen an attention addicted child knows this child is not relaxed. This child is not comfortable within his own skin. This child is constantly clamoring for attention and doesn’t feel good about himself unless he’s at the center of attention. It’s not a good situation for a child to be an adult.
Jen: Well I know some adults like that.
John Rosemond: For sure there are plenty of adults who never outgrow that need for attention that was addicted to them when they were children.
Vicky: Well let’s move on to your second point. Called the voice of authority. You in your book you say that a Democratic family is a fiction. So what do you mean by that?
John Rosemond: Well what I mean is that children should not have an equal voice and the family this, by the way, the idea that children should have literally an equal voice in the family and should participate as equals from the time they were 3 years old.
John Rosemond: And family decision making was explicitly recommended by the news psychological experts that began writing parenting books in the 1960s. Thomas Gordon specifically recommended this and parent effectiveness training which was the best selling parenting book of the 1970s. His disciple Dorothy Briggs who wrote your child’s self-esteem and introduce that concept into American parenting explicitly recommended this and parenting is leadership that InGen parents should understand as we have drifted in America away from an understanding that parenting is leadership and one of the things that I do as I travel the country and my presentations and workshops is try to help people understand that as parents you are leaders of children that discipline is the process through which you disciple a child. You create a child who will look up to you subscribe to your values and follow your lead and one of the things that parents need to understand is that this is not accomplished by manipulating reward and punishment.
John Rosemond: There are times when punishment is necessary. There are times when the reward is appropriate. But today in America parents think that this is what discipline is all about. It’s about the manipulation of reward and punishment. It’s about the correct delivery of consequences and that isn’t at all true. The discipline of a child is done through leadership and leadership is conveyed primarily and how you speak.
John Rosemond: It is not conveyed through the manipulation of consequences when it seems as though a lot of parents want to be their kid’s friend.
Vicky: And that and that’s just not working.
John Rosemond: Well one of the things that the new experts encourage them and there are some who are still encouraging this is they encouraged whether they said it or not. It was encouraged that the boundary that used to exist between parents and children between adults and children, in general, be eradicated and many parent-child relationships today. And this is what you were referring to when you say a lot of parents want to be their kid’s friend. There’s no boundary in the relationship between parents and kids today and especially mother and child. We give one of them. You know I say this constantly. It’s ironic we give women in America permission to erect a boundary between themselves and their mothers their siblings their friends their co-workers their employer. We do not give permission for mothers in America today to erect a boundary between themselves and their children.
John Rosemond: The attempt to be liked by your child the attempt to be popular backfires and that the female feels quite often the female parent as if she is under assault from her children 24 hours a day that she never has any peace.
John Rosemond: My mother and women of her generation and prior generations had plenty of peace in their parenting because they had no problem telling their children. In effect I’m not going to be your mother right now I’m doing something else. You go find something to do.
John Rosemond: And when I feel that you need a mother or I am ready to be your mother again I will let you know. And that was not something that was hard for us to absorb. I talked to people my age and I you know I asked them if their mothers communicated the same thing to them almost without exception. They all attest to that and they all without exception say that this was not a difficult thing at all for them as children to understand and abide by it. But today’s mother thinks that this is a horrifying thing to say to a child. You know I don’t have time here right now. Leave me alone. I’m doing something else.
John Rosemond: This is more important to me right now than what you think you need from me know that you know I’m kind of looking at Vicky and I’m thinking it sounds great. I just know that you know my kids are young Jasmines actually just turned four and my other one is two and I have actually just kind of started doing that. I’ve kind of looked at it and I know that in your book it says to not do this which is why of course we wanted to do this. And I read about you and stuff all the time now. You know I felt as though my job was raising my kids. And so that’s pretty much what I did. And now I’m finding that you know I do need to get some of my own people back. And I feel kind of fortunate that I’m finding that out now while they’re still young. And I actually just to Jasmine yesterday I said you know I’m sorry you’re going to have to just find something else to do mommy needs to do this right now for you. I know and I was like. And she turned around and walked away and it’s not like I had never done anything like that before.
Vicky: But since reading your book and this chapter really kind of got to me in the first chapter did and I feel like this is one that’s really kind of easy to change and fix about you know things are just a matter of understanding that that was part of that is just a matter of understanding that children are not the delicate little frail fragile crystal vases of self-esteem that we think they are quite resilient and that if you just you know without any anger or tension in your voice if you just look at a child and say hey look I’m doing something else right now. That’s right now to me is more important than what you think you need from me and I’m going to finish this and I need you to find something else to do. You know for that kind of directive leadership statement to be directed at a child at the age of 3 or 4. And by the way, that message needs to begin being sent shortly before a child’s third birthday.
John Rosemond: That boundary needs to start being erected shortly before a child’s birthday some a year late.
Vicky: That’s okay. It’s not late. You know what I’m saying.
John Rosemond: It’s just that optimally and it needs to be erected at that age. And unfortunately, as I said going back to my original point we don’t give women in America permission to do this anymore it’s very difficult for a woman to do this today.
John Rosemond: She feels a great deal of anxiety about doing what you feel guilty because she feels guilty.
John Rosemond: And see that’s the difference is that 50 years ago a woman doing this felt no guilt at all. Somebody said to me you know the other day they said John you know the real difference between parenting today and parenting 50 years ago is that women didn’t work 50 years ago and I said well I don’t know where you got that idea. Yeah. You know women worked they just weren’t you know national sales managers or CEOs of corporations. They were they typically fell into one of three categories nurses teachers or secretaries. But they did work. And women who had children worked outside the home. The difference, however, was that a woman 50 years ago who worked outside the home who had children came home and didn’t feel guilty about it. And a woman today in that same situation comes home and feels guilty about it because we have created the impression in the mind of the American female parent that her constant presence and attention to her child is essential to her child’s sense of well-being.
Vicky: I’m looking at the time John I think we should go ahead and move on to your next point. The roots of responsibilities.
John Rosemond: Sure we can leave some of our listeners in suspense.
Jen: We really love the agony principle. I know it really cracks me up. I know that it’s not supposed to be funny but it is.
John Rosemond: Well it was intended to be quite a tongue in cheek. You know the idea you know parents shouldn’t agonize over anything children do or failed to do if the children are perfectly capable of agonizing over themselves.
Vicky: So I can’t wait till my kids get a little older and I can throw that on them at that stage.
John Rosemond: It is simply a restatement of something that parents used to say to them over 50 years ago it was you made this bed you’re going to lie in it. That’s all that means. It means that you know the child does something that that is inappropriate or deserves some agony some emotional distress the parent is not going to be the one to lie in bed and said another way to and that was I’m just going to let you stew in your own juices about this. Yeah. And one of the things I say, Vicky and Jen, as I tour the country doing my public speaking thing is that 50 years ago the child lay in the bed. He made today the mother lies in those beds. Fifty years ago the child stood in his own juices. And today the mother is in those shoes. And it’s you know we’ve created and again I blame people in my profession psychology for this. I blame people with capital letters after their names and I have those capital letters. We have created a topsy-turvy parenting climate in America
That is really working a number on parents and especially the female parent.
This is Jenny motherf sex and you’re listening to Becky and Jen. What really matters Don how do I get my 6 year old to clean his room.
It’s obviously a chore. That’s important to me not him. He just doesn’t care.
He doesn’t clean his room and at seven o’clock in the evening you look at him and you say it’s bedtime. And he says no it’s not bedtime bedtime say 30 and you go no bedtime and say 30 when you clean your room and that time is seven o’clock when you don’t. Obviously, you are too tired to clean your room.
Oh, so you’re going to go. No, I’m not too tired to clean my room I go quaintest.
Then you say fine go clean it and then go to bed. And I want to tell you if you take this very simple approach to this kind of problem it will be over and done with in a very short period of time. Do not ever nag the child again. You don’t ever want to know. You know you just you know seven o’clock in the evening. Surprise it’s bedtime.
You do that once they get it.
Maybe once or twice this week.
And then once next week and then once three weeks from that but eventually this is going to be a nonissue anon-issueever again nag and you never again get stressed out about it. And the child learns well I don’t clean my room.
Nobody’s going to come nag at me. Nobody’s going to invite me into a power struggle and I’m going to have to go to bed at 7 o’clock. I don’t want to go to bed at 7 o’clock therefore I will remember to clean my room.
The parents have to follow through. I think that’s part of the problem nowadays too as you just see a lot of parents that give these threats or consequences or whatever and it’s such a lack of follow through all the kids. Then again just don’t respect their parents and just kind of walk all over.
And when I look at your Web site and when I look when I’ve read several of your books and everything you often refer to know as being a really good word. And you talked about this in chapter 4 the fruits of frustration that no is the most character building two letter word on a word in the English language. And I had a question about that because I’ve always been in the field of early care and education and in the past year I have sat through workshops with other child care professionals and were constantly being told to minimize the number of times that you say no but rather than laughing at you laughing at me a more positive slant on it. So instead of saying no no don’t climb on that to a younger child rather say void the no and say keep tell them what to do. Keep your feet on the floor. So I work with people who do child care in their home and they’re trying to get nationally accredited. It’s actually a standard the provider uses no very little right.
Well, you’re talking about the standards that prevail with the Association for the education of young children. Yeah and I happen to have a philosophical difference with age. I see that we don’t need to go into this program by another show another show but he wisely won’t even accredit a day care program or a preschool program that uses time out. And you know. Right. What all of this is based on is this idea that children are so fragile psychologically that that the use of the word no could squash their intellect wash their curiosity squash their self-esteem and that it treats them with disrespect and so on you don’t like to hear the word no do you.
Well no I don’t like to hear the word no. But guess what. The most well-adjusted human beings have accepted that the world says no to you more than it says yes.
You know for example you know Honey can I have. Can I go out today and buy a Rolls Royce.
What is wrong with this word. It it it is a word that communicates to children. You you as Mick Jagger has so eloquently put it you can’t always get what you want but if you try real hard you just might find you get what you need out of life.
And I’m afraid that today’s children are just not learning this basic reality principle that the world says no to you more than it says yes to you and art learning it in part. Because children’s advocacy groups which I don’t believe they’re really advocacy groups I believe there are destructive like the American the Association for the education of children promote these ideas the kind of idea that you just described.
Well, thank you for clearing that up. Didn’t I see a lot of child care providers that I work with and even myself just just watching every word that they say and it’s like walking on eggshells because they’re afraid to use the word now.
Yeah, I mean just walking on eggshells that that’s a great way of putting that atmosphere in parent child relationships you know children.
Look I heard the word know as a child a lot. And you know especially when my mother was a single parent mom used to say to me don’t ask me for stuff because I hate to say no and you don’t want to hear it.
You the solution is don’t ask no good solutions.
And I learned not to ask you know because I I realized OK I don’t want to hear the word. My mother doesn’t want to say it so I won’t ask for it. And I learned how to be a very. I mean we were poor but I was a very content and happy child. You know I dare say today’s children and I hear this all the time from parents their children aren’t content unless they’re getting something you know.
Yeah well, that kind of even takes us to the next point. We know about toys and play and the manufacturers these days. And you know the kids feel like they have to have all this stuff and commercialization and I actually really enjoyed the chapter about this and maybe we should let the readers try to figure that out on there.
And I just wanted to say that John talks about there’s four components of a toy. So for parents who are selecting materials for their children you really need to check out this section because he tells you what are the foremost important criteria of selecting a toy. And then John even mentions that there is one toy in his mind that is perfect because it does meet all four standards. So I think that we should leave that as a surprise for the listeners.
Just have to go check out the book and by the way, I am not being paid by that particular company.
Ok. But we will keep the listener in suspense about Friday.
But just a brief comment you know I I recently took a poll through my newspaper column and the overwhelming response to the poll I received nearly 500 e-mails in response to this poll from parents whose children a don’t watch a lot of television or any at all and we don’t have a lot of toys and without exception these parents describe their children as creative self occupying children who don’t whine who who find things to do and you know if you want to create a child who whines about wanting things then just give them a lot of stuff.
Yeah yeah. Which is. It’s just amazing and I was kind of funny because even when Vicky and I met to talk about this book and that actual day I went home and the girls and my two girls took all the cushions off the couch and the pillows and the blankets and they played with those for about an hour and my first impulse is Oh I got to put the couch back together and I was then I was like Wow we were dead.
And then I’m like Hey I just read about you know it’s and it’s funny because I don’t you know I’ve actually John I feel like I’m doing a really good job with my kids.
You know I think that they are creative and things like that I know. But what this has gotten me to do is to really look at the little things that that you do. And like I said you know the comment about go find something else to do. And you know not getting you to know upset about having to put the couch back together you know that kind of stuff. It’s really kind of brought this stuff more into focus.