- Obama takes aim at ‘corporate deserters’
- Dick’s Sporting Goods lays off 478 PGA golf pros
- Senators: Cease-fire must allow Israel to defend against rockets, tunnels
- Sierra Leone doctor fighting Ebola catches disease
- Iraq welcomes Russian fighter jets, helicopter gunships into ISIL fight
- John McCain laments: Obama’s ‘self-pity … is really kind of sad’
- GOP offer to fix VA gives $10 billion in emergency funds
- Paul Ryan offers to repair U.S. economic safety net with a single grant stream
- Kim Jong-un builds bond with Putin: $250M Russia-backed addition to key port opens
- Pope Francis meets Meriam Ibrahim, a Sudanese woman sentenced to death
ROSEMOND: High self-esteem for kids a sham
Question of the Day
A fellow, slightly upset at my recent series of columns dealing with the myriad stupid parenting ideas that came out of the 1960s, accuses me of painting with too broad a brush. Without being very specific, he says some of the parenting changes fashioned during that decade were worthwhile. What?
In the 1960s, American parents stopped going to their elders for advice and began going instead to mental health professionals — people like me. To create a devoted client base, we had to come up with something new. So we cut from whole cloth a nouveau philosophy that was 180 degrees removed from the philosophy that had successfully guided every previous generation of parents. The centerpiece of this new point of view was the notion that high self-esteem is a good thing and parents should do all in their power to make sure their children acquire it.
Mind you, we made this up. Absolutely no empirical evidence, obtained by scientific means, existed to support this claim. It just sounded good; therefore, it was easy to market. High self-esteem is the card that supports the house of cards that is what I call "postmodern psychological parenting." Pull that card and the whole stack falls.
The supposed merits of high self-esteem were sold on the basis of rhetoric, not evidence. The evidence, however belated, is now in, and the evidence says high self-esteem isn't the holy grail it was promoted as being.
People with high self-regard, the evidence says, possess low regard for others. Instead of seeking opportunities to serve others, they seek to manipulate others. Furthermore, people with high self-regard tend to antisocial behavior. People incarcerated in maximum security prisons have very high self-regard, for example.
Pre-psychological parenting emphasized respect for others. People with high other-regard seek opportunities to serve; therefore, they pay attention to other people. People with high self-esteem want to be served and be paid attention to. It's the simple difference between wanting to do for others and wanting others to do for you — obligation versus entitlement.
So, to the question, "Isn't it possible for a child to have high self-esteem and a high level respect for others?" The answer is an unequivocal no.
Because high self-esteem has become even more American than the flag and apple pie, what I say on the subject produces what psychologists call cognitive dissonance. Parents become confused, even angry. The most common protest: "But I want my child to be confident!" There is no evidence that people who are humble, modest and possess high regard for others lack the belief they are capable of dealing with life's challenges. The Amish do not value or promote high self-esteem (they call it "being prideful") and they don't think there's a problem they can't solve (and you'd be hard-pressed to identify one they haven't solved).
Self-esteem doesn't pass the common-sense test either. Would you rather be employed by, work alongside, be close friends with or be married to a person with high self-esteem or a person who is humble and modest? See what I mean?
Your common sense knows the truth, the way things really are. (And make no mistake, high self-esteem and humility do not coexist.) The problem is that America's parenting common sense has been all but smothered by a big, wet blanket of psychobabble that was manufactured in, yep, the 1960s.
So, since belief in high self-esteem is essential to believing in the whole of postmodern psychological parenting, I maintain that the latter is completely devoid of value. It is a sham, a pig in a poke, an intellectual rip-off. It has damaged children, families, schools and culture.
I propose, therefore, that we begin the invigorating, rejuvenating process of finding our way back home.
• Family psychologist John Rosemond answers parents' questions on his Web site (www.rosemond.com).
TWT Video Picks
Second- and third-stringers eye 2016 if front-runner stumbles
- 'We're coming for you, Barack Obama': Top U.S. official discloses threat from ISIL terrorists
- Obama orders Pentagon advisers to Ukraine
- NAPOLITANO: What if our democracy is a fraud?
- Hamas rejects Kerry's call for cease-fire; Fears grow others could join fight against Israel
- Evidence shows Russia firing artillery into Ukraine: Pentagon
- Norway expects imminent 'concrete threat' from ISIL terrorists 'within days'
- PRUDEN: The Democratic-wannabe mice under Hillary Clinton's feet
- Presidents of Honduras, Guatemala blame U.S. for border children crisis
- Algerian plane diverted due to storms, second aircraft: 116 missing
- ISIL captured 52 U.S.-made howitzers; artillery weapons cost 500K each
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors
20 gadgets that changed the world
Fighting in Iraq