What You’re Up Against
I recently came across an article that was both eye-opening and a bit disheartening with the title, “Poll: Nearly two-thirds of mothers ‘shamed’ by others about their parenting skills.” It turns out that shaming is what is actually going on under the cloak of advice, and it’s leading to substantial stress for parents. The survey was conducted by the University of Michigan Children’s Hospital for moms of children birth to 5. If we also think about parenting kids 6 to 18, how much higher would such shaming be? Chances are quite a lot!
Then I saw a post on Facebook sharing a study published in the Journal of Family Psychology looking at over FIVE decades of research on spanking. The conclusion? The more children are spanked, the more likely they are to show defiance to their parents, to display more aggression, have more problems with mental health, and experience more cognitive difficulties. That’s alarming. But what was somewhat more alarming to me were the comments from readers. A very large number were dismissing the research and taking the stand in one way or another that they believe children need to be spanked.
When I reflect on this and other similar experiences, I see a pattern that parents who are trying to do a better job can get a lot of pushback from others. As the shaming article points out, most of this comes not from strangers, but from within the family—and primarily the grandparents.
Grandparents are great, no doubt about it. But they can also sometimes be misinformed about what’s best for kids. Research continues to come out to help us learn more about what is good for kids and what isn’t; with the goal that it will help us change our behaviors for the better. However, many older people, and of course younger ones too, don’t always believe these sources are valid and useful, or they may simply just not have access to the information.
The unfortunate result is that children suffer, and in truth so do those raising them. Remember the research on spanking? While this is one of the more harmful parenting practices, it serves as a strong illustration of this point. Imagine having your child defy you. Think about having the school call you repeatedly because your child is physically fighting with peers. How would you feel if your child was clearly dealing with mental health problems? Failing classes? How upset, worried, distressed, and so on would you be? We all love our kids, so I’m thinking quite a lot.
A Path Forward
I’m also very aware that most of you don’t sit around reading peer-reviewed journal articles. But that’s actually one of the things I do and I’ve been doing it for 30 years. This exercise isn’t to keep this knowledge to myself, but it’s to carry out the mission we have at Parent in the Know of supporting a better understanding of functioning and well-being in the parenting role and in children’s social-emotional health. Why? To promote effective and rewarding parenting experiences and optimal child outcomes.
We do this in two major ways for parents: 1) assessment and 2) parent coaching. When you use our service you learn more about yourself, your children, and what the research shows about parenting and child-rearing. This isn’t to take the place of your values. It’s not so that you won’t follow your heart. Rather, it’s to help you find that path that you may have been trying to walk, only to have so many barriers like shaming put in your way or confusing you about which way is best for you and your child.
I encourage you to seek out and read all you can from reputable sources about research on parenting and raising children. Think about what you learn in relation to what you currently think and do. Ask yourself how you can do better based on improved knowledge. Respectfully share what you’ve learned with others, and be prepared but stay strong, if they dismiss it the first time or maybe many times.
I also invite you to visit Parent in the Know. See what our assessments measure. They are very easily completed online. Think about if you might like to do some parent coaching sessions. We’d love to talk to you about how we can help you have a great parenting journey.
Dr. Lilla Dale McManis
President & Founder~ Parent in the Know
- Gershoff, E. T., & Grogan-Kaylor, A. (2016). Spanking and child outcomes: Old controversies and new meta-analyses. Journal of Family Psychology, 30(4), 453-469.
- Michigan Medicine – University of Michigan. (June 19, 2017). Poll: Nearly two-thirds of mothers ‘shamed’ by others about their parenting skills. ScienceDaily.
You can also find the video version here.
About the Author
Lilla Dale McManis, MEd., PhD., uses her training and experience as a psychologist, child developmentalist, educator, researcher, and parent to promote positive child outcomes through informed and effective practices. Dr. McManis is President of Parent in the Know. She believes strongly in and enjoys translating research into meaningful practice.
Article date: July 27, 2017