I continue to be amazed at the evidence that indicates our society continues
its movement towards a secular meltdown in what people are not moral beings
who must decide between right and wrong behavior, but are simply flotsam
on the sea of life, swept to and fro by the winds of accident.
The following article clearly articulates my fear.
More kids are in therapy;
parents are reason why
Moral values have been replaced with psychological issues
By John Rosemond
Knight Ridder Newspapers
"Why," asked a journalist, "do so many of today's parents
take their children to therapists?"
The question strikes at the heart of the child-rearing problems experienced by too many parents, who ask, "Why is it that although we work much harder at parenting than our parents, we have so many more problems with our children than they had with us?"
The answer to both questions is that parents of a previous era looked upon a child's behavior-or misbehavior-as a moral issue, but the contemporary parent has been persuaded to look upon it as a psychological issue.
This shift in America's child-rearing outlook reflects a more fundamental, all-encompassing cultural transformation from the scriptural to the secular.
The scriptural view of misbehavior holds that it is a moral problem, a matter of right versus wrong. The child succumbed to temptation. Acting on some narcissistic impulse, he made an antisocial choice which, if not a fully conscious one, needs to be brought to consciousness through punishing consequences.
Punishment affirms accountability. For the child to exercise control over free will, he has to learn that "free will ain't free."
The secular view holds that misbehavior is either a psychological or biological issue (or a combination). Misbehavior is the product of either (a) stress, anger, low self-esteem, conflict, or some other psychological condition, or (b) a biochemical imbalance, bad genes, allergies, etc.
In either case, the child "can't help it." Therefore, he deserves
not punishment, but understanding. Once his parents understand (supposedly)
the problem, they are obligated to make every effort to resolve it. If they
do not feel qualified to understand the problem and resolve it, then they
are to take the child to an expert who is trained in such matters.
Within the secular context, the child is not completely responsible for his misbehavior. He is merely a "leaf," driven to behave as he does by psychological and/or biological winds. He is a victim of circumstances beyond his control.
So where the pre-1960s child had no excuse for misbehavior, today's child is given one excuse after another.
Not surprisingly, the behavior of children now is more antisocial than has ever been true.
Most interestingly, although secularists accuse religion of producing guilt, the secular view of children and child-rearing is far more likely than the scriptural view to result in parental guilt.
The scriptural view holds that knowing the difference between right and wrong, a child chooses to misbehave. His parents are responsible for dealing properly with the misbehavior, but the scriptural view does not presume that they caused it through parenting sins of omission or commission.
But that is exactly what the secular view implies. The child's parents have but two means of escaping this, trap.
They can escape by successfully pointing the finger of blame at some other agent: teacher, playmate, the school curriculum, a television show the child watched (at someone else's house, no doubt), and so on. Or, they can escape by finding an expert who will tell them the problem is biological, not psychological.
In other words, it has nothing to do with them.
The secular view of children and child rearing has given us an epidemic rise in antisocial behavior on the part of children, a spate of parental guilt, and the notion that biology determines the choices one makes.
Have we hit bottom yet?
John Rosemond is a family psychologist in North Carolina. Questions of general interest may be sent to him at P.O. Box 4124, Gastonia, NC 28054 and at www.rosemond.com on the Internet's World Wide Web.
This article appeared in the Idaho Statesman, December 15, 1998, p 3E.