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Have We Created a "Child-Centric" Culture?

Updated on May 29, 2011


Newborn by Peter Griffin
Newborn by Peter Griffin
by Peter Griffin
by Peter Griffin

Have we created a "Child-Centric" culture? Children have rights and in some states may even turn in their parents if they are not scolded according to their expectations. Parenting is the hardest job you will ever love. In our pursuit to be the perfect parents, have we thrown out all common sense practices that worked for our parents and grandparents? Have we bought into the "psycho bable" of so called child psychologists, T.V. counselors and other gurus the media has thrust into our faces? Have we become so unsure of our own innate abilities to raise our young? We find an author that meets our fears head on with catchy phrases and we blindly follow their advice?

You become an adult the day you are able to accept the consequenses for your actions and not blame adult figures in your life. There are many criminals in our prisions , today, who have never reached adulthood and probably never will. But this group of citizens are the extreme not the majority.

An infant believes he/she is the center of her parents world. This is correct. Because in the beginning , every need is met by the parents. Food, drink, physical comfort, clothing and emotional and social interaction are the responsibility of the parents 24 hours a day. Ask any new father if there is time off for sleep and you know the response. We've all been there. We enjoy this demanding role and should because of the bond we feel to the little one.

However, in every infants life, a time fastly approaches, when the wants of the child must be met, as well. An infant's need for sleep must be met . A parent needs to keep their child safe and also engage the child in learning. To accomplish these goals, discipline must be taught with huge doses of patience. Some infants will fight the parent to skip a nap or not to be potty-trained. The parent must teach the child that their wants will not prevail. Eventually, the child learns that the parent knows best and will cooperate on a daily basis. Thus a routine is established and a certain harmony exists for both parent and child. The parent has learned to "go against" the self-centered wishes of the child to allow the child to be healthy and safe.

What happens when the child wins "these battles" and rules the home? A child who takes a tantrum is completely out of personal control. Crying, flailing of the arms, legs , kicking and hitting and screaming are undesirable behaviors. A parent cannot communicate with the child and will accomplish nothing by trying. No parent wants to condone this behavior and feels awful watching this, as well.

Other behaviors a responsible parent does not want to see are : defiance, extreme selfishness and the lack of ability to get along with others. It has been said that man's greatest need is to be appreciated. Even though such popular songs as "I am a Rock" prevail in our culture - we all know that choice is very unfulfilling.

Have we as a society given up on our innate ability to raise our young? Have we transferred this responsibility to authors, counselsors on T.V. and pop culture celebrities?

One example that comes to mind is Dr. Spock. A renown author, pediatrician was the first to study psychoanlysis and apply this to the needs of the child and family dynamics.

He influenced parents to be more affectionate with their children. He believed a newborn could never get enough attention. He frowned on allowing a child to cry it out. Some believed he ushered in an age of permissiveness and the concept of immediate gratification instead of self-discipline and the denial of selfish "wants".

In 1940, Spock supported circumcision of males performed a few days after birth. However, by l989 in an article for Redbook, he stated that "circumcision of males is traumatic, painful and of questionable value." For this stance he received the first Human Rights Award from the International Symposium on Circumcision (ISC) in l991. Without getting into a full blown debate on this subject, many factors have to be weighed by the newborn parents when reaching a decision on this topic. Religious beliefs, and ongoing health issues ( even the spread of certain STD's ) should be taken into account. This is a multi-faceted decision not to be taken lightly.

Dr. Spock taught not to place the child on their back when sleeping, for fear of blockage of the airways due to choking or vomitus. This belief was widely spread and practiced by health care professionals until the l990's . Later , after years of studies on Sudden Death Syndrome, empirical evidence showed there was a significantly increased risk of sudden infant death syndrome for babies who slept on their abdomens. Possibly 50,000 infant deaths could have been avoided in Europe, Australia, and America if this advice had been changed by l970.

Did the readers of Dr.Spock's books take some of his findings and misinterpet them to meet their own needs? To help us better understand his philosophy here are a few of his statements. " I didn't want to encourage permissiveness, but rather to relax rigidity." His own children were raised strictly. He valued consideration and politeness. He hoped to give children confidence in their own judgements. He did not want young adults to feel intimidated by authority as he did. He wanted them to believe in their views and to stand up to authority. These are all admirable qualities .

Some times people connected his political views to his teachings on child rearing. This is not a fair way to access his teachings, either. He also, lost a grandson to sucide but that 22 year old suffered from schizophrenia for a long time. Not a conditon anyone can control.

At the end of his career, after living with the results of some of his teachings ; he was "man-enough" to state that he was wrong about certain principles. He issued an apology and wrote many, many columns trying to undo some of the damage he had done.

I found that behavior to be breath-takingly honest. I also believe, he did alot of good.

When God gives you a child, he is blessing you and telling you he believes in you and trusts you to create a human masterpiece for him. I told my adopted son this when we first looked at his newborn son. I also believe, what we do with our lives is our gift back to God. Let's all choose wisely and meet our responsibilities head on to create the most beautiful , spiritual and giving human being we can .

Some books by Dr. Benjamin Spock

Baby and Child Care ( l946, with revisions up to eighth edition, ( 2004 )

A Teenager's Guide to Life & Love ( 1970 )

Raising Children in a Difficult Time ( 1974 )

Spock on Parenting ( 1988 )

Spock on Spock : A Memoir of Growing Up with the Century ( l989 )

A Better World For Our  Children  (1994 )                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

A note: I hope to visit other authors, psychologists and some television gurus and explore some of their teachings. The decline of parents following their own innate abilities to raise their children has helped to create a very superficial , me first group of young people.

Additional information

Recently, at St.Christopher's Hospital for Children in Philadelphia a conference was held about the recent changes in parenting recommendations and the recent advice about the safety and recall of certain cribs and some infant clothing. Ellen Tyrala was a featured speaker. Tyrala is the national medical director of the Cribs for Kids program, which was started in Allegheny County in 1998. This group now has 280 partner organizations nationwide. Since the 1980s , doctors have dramatically changed their advice on unexplained deaths, including those attributed to sudden infant death syndrome.

At first these deaths were treated as mysterious until a vast majority of the deaths that used to be called SIDS were caused by suffocation or asphyxiation.Tyrala says good data show the magnitude of various risks:

* "An infant placed on soft bedding, such as an adult mattress, faces a fivefold increase of sudden unexpected infant death, the official category that now includes SIDS."

* " An infant placed on its stomach faces a 2  1/2 -fold increase in death risk, placed on its stomach on soft bedding, it faces a 21-fold increase. "

* " An infant co-sleeping with adults faces a 40-fold increase in death risk."

She has written an initiative to get the Pennsylvania legislature to require hospitals to do what St. Christopher's already does: Teach safe sleep practices to all newborns' parents. House bill 47 has passed unanimously by the House but is currently stalled in the Senate. This is very frustrating after a four year battle.  The City of Philadelphia recorded 14 accidental sleep-related deaths last year, and 11 in the first half of this year, says Dr. Roy Hoffman of the City Health Department.

Adapted from Jeff Gelles article in The Philadelphia Inquirer

This is a poem that best describes how I feel about raising children.  I have seen this printed on cards, book marks , etc. but I have never seen the name of the author . I believe it is anonymous. 

Y O U R    C H I L D R E N

Your children are not yours

But they are the children of life

Always willful in its own ends.

     They don't live from you

     But through you, and although

     They may be with you ...

     You don't own them,

You may give them your love

But not your thinking,

Because they will always have

Their own thoughts.

     You may shelter their bodies

     But not their souls, because

     they belong in the world of tommorrow

     That you can not reach

     Even in dreams.

You may make an effort to be like them,

But never try to make them be like you.

Because the will of life never retreats

Nor is it ever detained by yesterday.

     You are the bow from which 

     Your children like arrows

     Are projected forward ....

Therefore, allow the inclinaton

Of your loving hand as the Archer

To mark the sure way

Toward their happiness ....




Baby with dandelion
Baby with dandelion | Source


Submit a Comment

  • fetty profile imageAUTHOR


    8 years ago from South Jersey

    daydreamer I applaud you for following your heart and your common sense with parenting your kids. We started much later raising a family and it was enormously challenging. If we end up with "law abiding citizens" that says everything about our parenting. Thank you so much for stopping by.

  • daydreamer13 profile image


    8 years ago

    I absolutely love this hub. I started raising kids at a young age and I did things by what made common sense to me. Over the years I've been critisized by many, including family, on my parenting, but now that my kids are older I'm being complimented on how well my children behave and their respect and manners shown to adults. It's nice to see that others share my views.

  • fetty profile imageAUTHOR


    8 years ago from South Jersey

    Thank you for your thoughtful comments. I was amazed to see my sons at twenty-five and twenty- eight years old finally acting the way my generation did at eighteen!!!

    My sons came to us at five and seven through adoption. They have the same mother, who still has not taken a responsible approach to relating to them. I've always been a no-nonsense parent. ( I believe this story needs to be told in a book.) Today's culture has produced immature and not fully emotionally developed adults. Thank you for your kind words.

  • profile image


    8 years ago

    I enjoyed this article very much and agree we have lost our senses when it comes to parenting. We have people now who still think they are teens well into their 30s and they really aren't prepared for adult life. Unfortunately, many of them have children who, as was pointed out, are left to their own devices (Internet, video games etc). Yes, I agree with you about the lack of human interaction and I hope you do a hub on it. I'll definitely be back to read more!

  • fetty profile imageAUTHOR


    8 years ago from South Jersey

    James , thank you for stopping by ! I really believe our culture is going down the wrong path in many other ways as well. I will look for that documentary. I am delighted that you came by to encourage me. Please give criticism , too. I respect your talent and passion for the written word.

  • James A Watkins profile image

    James A Watkins 

    8 years ago from Chicago

    Thank you for a fine article that I enjoyed reading. Last night I watched an extraordinary documentary about boys called "Raising Cain."

  • fetty profile imageAUTHOR


    8 years ago from South Jersey

    Always love reading your very thoughtful comments. Freud missed an awful lot, didn't he. Loved your reference to Mick J. . He is some kind of philosopher now that I think about it. Thanks for stopping by.

  • Winsome profile image


    8 years ago from Southern California by way of Texas

    Very readable and well done article Fetty, thank you. I like your definition of an adult: "You become an adult the day you are able to accept the consequences for your actions and not blame adult figures in your life." The problem I have with a lot of Freudian therapy is the need to go back and blame some adult for your poor development. While it is true that adults often parent poorly, at some time a child learns the difference between their own choices and that of their parents. When they realize they always have the power to choose and exercise that right, they are becoming an adult. Our responsibility is to model a person making healthy choices as well as dialogue about theirs.

    As for wants, the great philosopher Mick Jagger told us you can't always get them. We just need to pass that wisdom on to our kids. =:)

  • fetty profile imageAUTHOR


    8 years ago from South Jersey

    Yehokanan , I agree that the state of federal government has no business raising our children. Lack of discipline has already raised its ugly head and has the ability of ruining an entire generation. ( I have worked with children of all handicaps for many years. Some children need medication to interact and to concentrate. But it should always be the last course of action to take, after everything else has failed.)

  • fetty profile imageAUTHOR


    8 years ago from South Jersey

    Music Love - I do believe that the pendulum will swing; I'm just hoping it returns to common sense. I hope the basic needs of the children are met . I also see a grave misuse of technology related to our children.

  • Yehokanan profile image


    8 years ago from Indiana

    Good hub. I agree that many parents have absconded from fulfilling their role by doing what was convenient. Lack of discipline as we knew it in our youth will create a generation of people, (already has) of people that will not form coping skills until their late 20's when they should have learned them when they were 10...or 6. Also, our laws are also aimed at taking our influence as parents away, and replacing with the State, or the Fed. Which would rather medicate them into utter mediocrity than nurture their uniqueness and talents. That is the ultimate downside.

  • music love profile image

    music love 

    8 years ago from United States

    Maybe when the selfish kids created today have their own kids and pay less attention to them, everything will be back to normal. Then it will be a pendulum swinging back and forth.

    Selfishness seems to be built in our human nature, plus technology seems to be taking away a chunk of parents' time with kids. They say a bad parent is better than no parent though.

  • fetty profile imageAUTHOR


    8 years ago from South Jersey

    Kellydove - thank you for stopping by.

  • kellydove profile image


    8 years ago

    good work

  • fetty profile imageAUTHOR


    8 years ago from South Jersey

    I really feel sorry for the children, today. I believe there is a huge misuse of technology going on with the today's youth. Human interaction is becoming optional. Does anyone else see this happening ? ( Food for another hub.) Thankyou for stopping by .

  • elayne001 profile image


    8 years ago from Rocky Mountains

    So right about this. My grandchildren seem to have everything they want and then some. They were upset they didn't have their own cell phones saying everyone else at school had one - they are 10 and 11 - so now they have those too. At least their mother did not pay for texting so they still have to sacrifice. It is hard being a parent these days.

  • fetty profile imageAUTHOR


    8 years ago from South Jersey

    Words by Mike, Thankyou for visiting my sight. I appreciate your kind comments. I believe children need a strong parenting style. I know from my interactions with hundreds of students that your words are very powerful and must match what you practice in your home. Teens today have so many temptations and opportunites to fail in their decision making. We as parents need to have a strong presence in their lives, guiding them along their journey to adulthood. Today, I believe a strict upbringing is almost essential to insure our children's well being.

  • fetty profile imageAUTHOR


    8 years ago from South Jersey

    mquee, I agree that most of the parents I know try to be buddies to their children. This seems to be the current trend that is being "sold" to parents in books , on TV , etc. I also believe our parents did the best they could by us. ( I felt my parents loved me especially when I was disciplined .) I am a no-nonsense parent and teacher. My words are short and not sweet and I have always meant what I say when I am disciplining. I believe children beg for boundaries. My efforts are almost always understood by the child. Thankyou for your kind and insightful comments.

  • fetty profile imageAUTHOR


    8 years ago from South Jersey

    eshaw, I agree that we have the responsibility to raise our children to be healthy young adults. It isn't wrong to look for help if one feels the need; but I feel our society has lost their way by relinquishing some of the practices that their parents and grandparents taught them.

  • fetty profile imageAUTHOR


    8 years ago from South Jersey


    Thankyou for your thought provoking comments. I believe there is a middle approach to raising, healthly , independent , responsible children. By once again relying on our common sense and some of the child-rearing practices of our parents ; we can better evaluate the current trends suggested by these so called experts. Thankyou for your thoughful question. I will attempt to find an answer in my next hub.

  • profile image

    Words by Mike 

    8 years ago

    This was very insightful. I believe we have completely lost the ownership in parenting out of fear of persecution. I have had many people in my life tell me I am too strict with my children, and I have remained on course. I believe that children must understand one basic lesson.

    Life is about choices, either positive or negative and the resulting consequences. I have taught this to my children since they first could listen, and still yet in their teenage years. You are so right about adults accepting responsibility for their own behavior.

    Thanks for writing this, more people need to ponder the message.

  • mquee profile image


    8 years ago from Columbia, SC

    I believe any parenting skills we have are inherited to a degree from our parents. This is one of those responsiblities that is learned on the job. I am 61 years old and I know my parents did the best they could with what they had. I respect them for that.

    It seems now parents want to be buddies with their children. There is a time and place for everything, but early on parents should be teaching, caring for, and yes disciplining if necessary.

    Very good observations here, especially about Dr. Spock. I didn't know that he had changed some of his views. Thanks for sharing.

  • eshaw profile image


    8 years ago from Huntsville

    i agree we have, and i think we as parents or adults in positions to make those decision, when brought one should make the right one when detemining whether a child has been abused or just simply scolded

  • CMHypno profile image


    8 years ago from Other Side of the Sun

    A lot of children these days seem to know all of their rights but none of their responsibilities. Somehow we need to change things so that children have boundaries and discipline again, and will have the ability to be able to take care of themselves and their own families when they themselves are adults. Surely there is a middle way where children are appreciated, loved and have fun, but still get a good education and grow up to be self-sufficient, appreciative and respectful?


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