I love John Rosemond. Actually, let me clarify. John Rosemond is a total know-it-all and we could never be friends, but he dispenses straight-forward, common sense parenting advice that I find helpful and entertaining at the same time. So I still love him.
Parent Babble is Rosemond’s manifesto against psychologists and the myths they lead parents to believe. His basic premise is that until the 1960s, raising kids had generally been done the same way. This traditional way of parenting was proven and effective. During the the 1960s, however, there was a shift in ideology sparked by a small handful of well-meaning but ultimately incorrect psychologists. This shift led a number of mental health professionals to develop some revolutionary (but unproven) parenting theories that ultimately ruined every generation thereafter. These theories have been so widely disseminated that they are accepted as truth by many well-intentioned parents, when in actuality they have never been proven in any scientific studies and are actually detrimental to our society as a whole.
For example, potty training. Prior to 1960, more than 80 percent of American children were successfully potty trained by 24 months (pg. 103). Presently, the child who is trained before his 2nd birthday is few and far between, which most of us moms can personally attest to. Rosemond blames pediatrician T. Berry Brazelton, who in 1962 wrote an article stating that a pre-two year old’s nervous system was not mature enough for potty training and that a child would practically train himself if the parent waited until he was “ready.” Other psychologists jumped on board with “child-centered potty training” and “readiness cues”, eventually resulting in what we have today – a bunch of 4 year olds still wearing diapers.
He goes through the same dissemination of misinformation with these subjects:
- Authoritative parenting
- Potty training (mentioned above)
- Attachment parenting
It was all very interesting. It wasn’t quite life-changing for me because I already tend to do parenting as my mother did (which is how her mother did), but it was interesting. I specifically liked when he talked about the feminization of the father (pg 70), which is something Eddie and I laugh at every time we see a man wearing a baby bjorn. Rosemond wasn’t specifically talking about baby carriers – he was debunking the myth that high self esteem is essential to a child reaching their greatest potential, pointing out that many families lack a traditional masculine role model now – but it got us talking about other ways fathers have feminized over the last 50 years.
I think his argument would have been stronger if he had included more specific data on the research he cites. There are times he says a certain thing has been proven or disproven through multiple studies, but he fails to go into those specific studies which I think weakens his argument. I did see that there is more detailed information provided in the notes section in the back, but I really think he should have included it as part of his main argument.
There are also some things I question – specifically in the self-esteem section. I don’t have empirical evidence, but I just think there has to be some value in praising your children for the areas in which they excel. He pretty much says a child should not be praised for things like intellect or talent – only for effort. I will have to think more on this subject.
Overall, it was a good read. If you like reading about parenting theory OR if you’re a traditional parent looking to arm yourself with ammo to use against the smug judgement of an attachment parenting mom, this is the book for you. If you’re so busy with life that you barely have time to shave your legs anymore, skip this one and read another Rosemond book with more practical application.
Since he established that praise isn’t helpful, I’ll withhold any accolade to John Rosemond and just say that it’s pretty clear that the best parenting advice you can get will generally come from an 80 year old woman who raised her 5 kids in the good ol’ days. Ignore the “babble” about all the things you can do to permanently damage your child’s psyche. Just do as they did in the 1950s and your kids will turn out just fine.