Parent-Centered Parenting: Reflections from a Park

A corrective to some parenting perspectives. Some of us have been taught that our worlds are not meant to revolve around our children. While this is true, oftentimes the pendulum is swung in the wrong direction.

It is detrimental to the growth of our children to let our worlds revolve around them–thus creating self-worshipers. It is, HOWEVER, also wrong for us to demand our children revolve around our worlds.

I was sitting on a bench in a park while I heard a distressed mother scream to her two-year-old, “Eat!” A few minutes passed by: “Sit down and eat your food!” The father steps in out of guilt and stands over his child and says, “Eat!” By the sound of it, you would think they were trying to get him to eat some poison or gruel that would kill him. They were demanding that he eat his pb & j. He didn’t want to. It was 3 o’clock in the afternoon. This child should probably be napping somewhere. Not eating lunch! The parents are right: that the child should eat his lunch. BUT they have failed to care for their child. They are not listening to the child.They are demanding with little or no reference to the child’s needs. As a relatively new parent myself (I have a four year-old), this has been a rough learning curve for me. How much do I demand? Is it wrong to demand obedience? I know that it is right for my children to obey me. But I take issue with parents who give little or no thought to the humanity of their children. Their children are often talked to like animals–as though a one word command is all that is required on their part as a parent.

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