2 April 2011

Us vs. Them

Recently I was talking about the Pearls with their To Train Up a Child book.  This is a subject I cannot usually talk about without getting very angry, but I'll try not to rant too much (full disclosure - I've only read the first chapter, I was angry enough after reading that to not read the rest).

As I was thinking about it, though, it struck me that, if you strip away all the advice they give, it seems based on a faulty premise in and of itself.  It seems to pit parents against their children.  This is made obvious in talking about how you must train children to obey immediately, and praising situations where children aren't seen or heard at all.

A similar trend can be found in what I've read of the Ezzo's work (they are the authors of On Becoming Babywise).  They advise parents to have "couch time" with each other to show the child that the primary relationship in the family is the spousal relationship, and not the parent-child relationship.  Again, this is pitting parent against child and vice versa, it seems.

I truly don't understand the "us vs them" mentality, though I have heard it in other places as well (such as when people tell you not to co-sleep because it might ruin your marriage).  I see this as creating conflict that isn't necessarily there.  Yes, children disrupt our lives, but not in a bad way.  The family must adapt with each new child, as the dynamic changes each time, but it doesn't pit the parents against the children.  At least that shouldn't be the case, I don't think.

I can understand, though, that if one accepts the premise that it is "us vs them", one would perhaps be more inclined to buy into the Pearl's and Ezzo's other statements regarding training children.  I know that ranting about them doesn't change anything, but maybe that's also because those of us who aren't thrilled with their parenting philosophies aren't getting to key assumption in the matter.  Maybe we need first to discuss that it isn't "us vs them".  I don't know, to be honest, but I wanted to get some thoughts/observations written.


  1. I completely agree. I can't imagine, even subconsciously, pitting my child against me like that. Our family is an organic whole; we're in this together! Yes, having children will completely change your life, but it's for the better. Having children makes you so much less selfish, and that is a wonderful, beautiful thing.

    I don't agree at all with the "us vs. them" mentality, but I see it often, and I know a lot of people who choose that for their family. I don't see any good in it; honestly, I could never choose that without feeling a twinge of conscience. Why is it so attractive to parents? Because they don't have to be selfless that way? Has our society disintegrated so much that selfishness is ok, even when it comes to our children?

  2. I think a lot of it is about selfishness, and that this is what society is telling us is the "normal" family dynamic. As I mentioned on Phatmass, I find the kids get into more trouble if I'm doing my own thing & not paying attention to them, so what I need to do is spend more time with them, even though it means less "me" time. Not that all "me" time is bad, we all need some time to ourselves, but that I shouldn't be so selfish with my time. Actually, I can use that same argument/example with prayer time.