“The goal of parenting is not to control, coerce or punish children into being ‘good.’ The goal of parenting is to grow children who can feel all of their feelings and become empathic problem-solvers, and to help children reach their fullest potential.”

No, I haven’t gone over to the other side. That’s a quote from a recent Washington Post column by parent coach Meghan Leahy. I checked the date because it’s the very sort of romantic blah-blah the experts were churning out in the early 1970s, which is when mere child rearing became parenting.

Leahy is well intentioned, but she is sadly mistaken. Helping children feel right is not the goal of parenting. Well, in a sense it is, because parenting and mere child rearing are polar opposites in every way. Parenting is about making sure children “feel all of their feelings and become empathic problem-solvers,” whatever that means and however it is measured. Mere child rearing, on the other hand, is about growing responsible citizens, which requires, in no particular order, that children learn to control their emotions and know the difference between right and wrong. The goals of mere child rearing are clear. No one has to wonder what is meant by “know the difference between right and wrong.”

Visit family psychologist John Rosemond’s website at johnrosemond.com. Readers may send him email at questions@rosemond.com; due to the volume of mail, not every question will be answered.

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