A Few Favorite Parenting Quotations

I like these comments about parenting. They’re a little longish, but capture some challenges and insights about parenting (John S-F, 2011).

If I wouldn’t want to be slapped across the face, why would I slap my son? If I wouldn’t want to be screamed at when I made a mistake, why would I scream at my daughter when she dropped the cake I had decorated for my mother-in-law? If I wouldn’t want to be ridiculed when I attempted to learn to roller-blade at age 43, why would I ridicule my daughter as she jerked the car out of first gear into second after being shown ten times how to do it smoothly. If I wouldn’t want my gardening skills to be compared with my neighbor’s, why would I compare my son’s math performance with his older sisters’? (Coloroso, 1995, p. 14).

It is usually assumed in our society that people have to be trained for difficult roles; most business firms would not consider turning a sales clerk loose on the customers without some formal training; the armed forces would scarcely send a raw recruit into combat without extensive training; most states now require a course in driver’s education before high school students can acquire a driver’s license. Even dog owners go to school to learn how to treat their pets properly. This is not true of American parents. (E. E. LeMasters, 1977, p. 18)

. . . we have inherited a tradition of discounting children’s feelings simply because children are smaller, less rational, less experienced, and less powerful than the adults around them. Taking children’s emotions seriously requires empathy, keen listening skills, and a willingness to see things from their perspective (Gottman & DeClaire, 1997, p. 31)

. . . it’s not easy to ignore your parental agenda in the face of misbehavior—especially when you can feel the sermon on the tip of your tongue. But moralizing about a misdeed without addressing the feelings behind it is usually ineffective. It’s like putting a cold compress on your child’s fevered brow without treating the infection that’s causing the fever in the first place (Gottman & DeClaire, 1997, p. 115)

We must realize the futility of trying to impose our will upon our children. No amount of punishment will bring about lasting submission. Today’s children are willing to take any amount of punishment in order to assert their “rights.” Confused and bewildered parents mistakenly hope that punishment will eventually bring results, without realizing that they are actually getting nowhere with their methods. . . . The use of punishment only helps the child to develop greater power of resistance and defiance (Dreikurs & Soltz, 1964; pp. 69-70)

I secretly believed that sibling rivalry was something that happened to other people’s children

Somewhere in my brain lay the smug thought that I could outsmart the green monster by never doing any of the obvious things that all the other parents did to make their kids jealous of each other. I’d never compare, never take sides, never play favorites. If both boys knew they were loved equally, there might be a little squabble now and then, but what would they really have to fight about?

Whatever it was they found it. (Faber & Mazlish, 2004, p. 1)

To most people, the premise that the first mental structures created by experience are preserved indefinitely, like a scratch on a table, seems reasonable. But, in fact many early ideas and habits either vanish or undergo such serious transformation that they cannot be retrieved in later life, any more than the first strokes of a seascape can be discerned from the larger scene, once a painting is complete (Kagan, 1998,  p. 3).

. . . never lose sight of the homely – and scientifically supported – truth that a good, warm, mutually respectful relationship with your child makes all the difference (Kazdin, 2008, p. 146)

When Mrs. McCormick held Tim in her lap at the playground, she sat alone on a bench across from the other mothers as if she were ashamed of Tim’s clinging. She knew that if she sat by other mothers, they would all give her advice: “Just put him down and let him cry—he’ll get over it.” “MY little girl was just like that before she finally got used to other kids.” “Get him a play date. He can learn about other children that way.” (Brazelton & Sparrow, 2001, p 8).

Even before I had children, I knew that being a parent was going to be challenging as well as rewarding. But I didn’t really know.

I didn’t know how exhausted it was possible to become, or how clueless it was possible to feel, or how, each time I reached the end of my rope, I would somehow have to find more rope.

I didn’t understand that sometimes when your kids scream so loudly that the neighbors are ready to call the Department of Child Services, it’s because you’ve served the wrong shape of pasta for dinner.

I didn’t realize that those deep-breathing exercises mothers are taught in natural-childbirth class don’t really start to pay off until long after the child is out. (Kohn, 2005, p. 1).

No one is more susceptible to an expert’s fear mongering than a parent. Fear is in fact a major component of the act of parenting. A parent, after all, is the steward of another creature’s life, a creature who in the beginning is more helpless than the newborn of nearly any other species. This leads a lot of parents to spend a lot of their parenting energy simply being scared (Levitt & Dubner, 2005, p. 149)

Before my children were born, I was convinced that I would be patient, kind, and nurturing—the quintessential earth mother. But I failed to live up to the ideal mother image that I had pictured for myself. I was daunted by the enormous gulf between the perfect parent that I wanted to be and the flawed parent that I actually was. Since then, I have learned that such feelings are quite common. Scratch any parent, and you’ll find guilt. It’s lurking just beneath the surface, ready to spring out when we lose patience with our children, fail to make them happy, feel resentful of their demands, or believe that when they misbehave its’ all our fault. (Samalin, 2003, p. 265).

A well-educated, cultured man and his wife beat their own child with a birch rod, a girl of seven. I have an account of it. The father was glad that the birch was covered with twigs. ‘It stings more,’ said he, and so he began stinging his daughter. . . . They beat for a minute, for five minutes, for ten minutes, more often and more savagely. The child screams. At last the child cannot scream, it gasps, ‘Daddy! daddy!’ (Dostoyevksy, Fyodor; The Brothers Karamozov, 1881/1957,  p. 234)

“Have Phillip come down after school and I’ll give him a bottle of Show-off Powder. For the next few days sprinkle a little on him before meals, especially when you are having company, and just before he leaves for school in the morning. I’m sure you won’t have any more trouble.”

“But what is this show-off powder? Will it hurt Phillip? Asked Mrs. Carmody fearfully.

“Show-off powder is guaranteed to be harmless,” said Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle. “But it will stop showing off. You see it makes the showing-off invisible>”

“Invisible!” wailed Phillip’s mother. “You mean I won’t be able to see my own little boy?”

“Not when he’s showing off,” said Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle matter-of-factly. “Nobody will be able to see him. But when he stops showing off and is normal he’ll come back into focus.” (MacDonald, 1957, p. 16).

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