John's Articles

‘Gentle Parenting’ Appeals to Emotion, Not Reason

Posted 2 days ago

Q: My husband and I recently visited our son’s family. We live two thousand miles apart and with the pandemic and all, hadn’t seen one another in several years. We were appalled to...

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Stop High-Fiving Kids

Posted 1 week ago

Arrrrrrggggggggghhhhhhh! Will you please just stop doing that, please? Every time I see it, I want to scream, and I’m not an emotionally hyperactive person. I’m talking about adults high-fiving...

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Child Mental Health Therapy: Any Proof It Does Any Good?

Posted on 8/30/2022

In a 6 – 3 decision, the Killingly, CT, school board recently said “no” to establishing a mental health center at its high school. I imagine most folks, upon hearing that, would be dismayed,...

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'Parenting' vs. Child-Rearing

Posted on 8/23/2022

“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...

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Why Parenting Slot Machine Theory Is Wrong

Posted on 7/27/2022

Some parents, I have discovered, believe in the parenting slot machine theory. They hold fast to the notion that some parents are simply lucky, meaning that chance, and chance alone, determines...

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'Equal' vs. 'Fair'

Posted on 7/19/2022

Q: How can I explain to my kids, ages 6 and 9, that “fair” and “equally” are not the same. They complain constantly that I’m not fair. What they mean is I don’t treat them the same. A: ...

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Research on Ultrasounds Is Murky

Posted on 7/5/2022

Correlation does not prove cause, drummed my grad school statistics professor. For example, a rise in the rate of American children who regularly consume lox and a concurrent rise in Type 1...

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Back Off on Daughter’s Eyeliner Use

Posted on 6/28/2022

Q: Our 14-year-old daughter is a rising high school sophomore. We let her wear eyeliner this past year, but she is wearing entirely too much. She is well-adjusted (plays sports, good grades) but...

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The Ideal Time Spacing Between Children

Posted on 6/14/2022

Q: My husband and I have one child, age two. We’d like to have at least one more. What is the optimal spacing between children? A: Research puts ideal sibling spacing at three to four years....

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What Should Single Mom Do About Disrespectful Son?

Posted on 6/7/2022

Q: I’m a single mother with a 13-year-old son. His father, whom he sees infrequently, has PTSD from battle experiences. My son has anger toward his father, but I can’t get him to talk about it....

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Chores for 3-Year-Olds? Yes!

Posted on 5/31/2022

Q: In certain of your books as well as your newspaper column, you have written that children as young as three should be doing daily chores around the home. Exactly what chores are reasonable for...

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Today’s Kids Have No Idea What They’re Missing

Posted on 5/24/2022

I grew up in the “You’re Making a Mountain of a Molehill” Era, also known as the Age of “Children Are Starving in (fill in the blank with some remote place)," and by golly, I’m a better person for...

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The Age of Parenting Enlightenment

Posted on 4/26/2022

America entered what I call the Age of Parenting Enlightenment around 1970. That was the year, or thereabouts, when parents stopped listening to their elders when it came to childrearing matters...

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Keep Kids Away From Screen-Based Devices

Posted on 4/12/2022

Psychologist, author, and professor Russell Barkley, widely regarded as one of America’s leading ADHD experts, used to be (and may, for all I know, still be) fond of ridiculing me in his public...

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Parents Should Trust Teachers About Children

Posted on 4/5/2022

If the following testimony, received from a thirty-eight year veteran of the teacher wars, was a one-off, it could be dismissed, but the sad, sad truth is that it is but one of hundreds of such...

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Kids Need Parents Who Are Authentic Adults

Posted on 3/22/2022

The contemporary parenting ideal consists of equal parts fixer, go-fer, and friend, which is why, when it is encountered in the flesh by someone of my ancient age, the new definition of a “good...

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Make the Marriage Top Priority in Family

Posted on 3/15/2022

Okay, I’ve had it! I’ve reached my limit! My tolerance for well-intentioned nonsense is kaput! Over and done with! Maxed out! Stop it! Just stop it! I’m referring to the...

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Are You Trying to Be Liked by Your Child?

Posted on 3/8/2022

Is the following statement true or false? It is often the case that children like what is not good for them and do not like what is good for them. True, right? Right! ...

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Respect Is a Two-way Street

Posted on 2/8/2022

I just experienced a flashback, but fear not, it wasn’t freaky. I was thinking about the parenting revolution that began in the late 1960s and quickly overwhelmed America’s homes and schools....

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‘Parenting’ vs Childrearing

Posted on 1/25/2022

I often go looking for parenting ideas that illustrate the difference between so-called “parenting” and mere childrearing. They abound. My latest find came in the form of a 2018 article on...

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When To Use Time-outs

Posted on 1/4/2022

I was once an orthodox believer in the power of time-out—the practice of having a child sit in a somewhat isolated chair for five minutes or so immediately after said child has misbehaved. I...

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Moving From ‘Gentle Parenting’ to ‘Insistent Parenting’

Posted on 12/7/2021

My previous column concerned so-called “gentle parenting,” which is naught but a retreading of the parenting propaganda that has gushed relentlessly from the mental health professional community...

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No New Tricks To Raising Kids

Posted on 11/30/2021

What is “gentle parenting”? It did not take much investigation for me to conclude that it is merely a rebranding of the same old, same old parenting babble America’s mental health establishment...

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The Problem With ‘I Feel Your Pain'

Posted on 11/23/2021

“I feel your pain” passes as a virtue, but it is anything but. However well-intentioned, it is the gist of codependency. When someone else is in a state of emotional pain, it is one...

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How To Stop Nitpicking

Posted on 10/19/2021

Q: A friend recently pointed out that I constantly nitpick my nine-year-old son’s behavior. Her words were, “You’re on his case all the time.” Why do I nitpick and how can I stop? A: ...

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Just 'Stop It!'

Posted on 10/12/2021

I often find myself telling parents that they need to stop doing something that is counterproductive and, in most cases, contributing significantly to whatever parenting problem is bedeviling...

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Fixing Our 'Parent-View'

Posted on 9/28/2021

Most of the problems today’s parents are experiencing in the course of raising children are due to a faulty “parent-view.” Just as one’s worldview consists of attitudes, values, and expectations...

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Why? Because I Said So

Posted on 9/22/2021

When I was a graduate student, one of the parenting memes then emerging from within the mental health professional community had it that “children deserved explanations.” The flip side of that...

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How To Help Your Child Get More Grit

Posted on 9/7/2021

It’s all over the web, that “grit” thing. Seems like every day, I get some promo for a webinar on how to get more grit, project more grit, or get in touch with your inner grit. So, allow me to...

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Psychological Parenting Is a Prescription for Enabling

Posted on 8/24/2021

Q: In your column, you have often spoken of “psychological parenting.” What, exactly, do you mean by that? A: Answering your question requires that we first unpack the word “parenting,” the...

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Talking About Children’s Fears Can Intensify Them

Posted on 8/17/2021

A stalwart friend recently called my attention to an online article titled “Two Things to Say to a Child Returning to In-Person School (& Two You Should Avoid).” I am choosing to provide...

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With Parenting Young Adult Children, Less Is More

Posted on 8/3/2021

It seems to be generally true that as one gets older, the habit of reminiscing develops. Looking back seems to be a function of getting closer to the final curtain. The closer the latter, the more...

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How To Stop Kids From Living Out Soap Operas

Posted on 7/6/2021

Will my profession, psychology, ever get it? Beginning in the 1960s, the psychological mainstream asserted that nearly all child mental health problems were caused by parents who...

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Parenting Quiz: True or False?

Posted on 6/29/2021

We interrupt this weekly column with a three-question quiz, following which you will find the correct answers. 1. True or False? Telling a child that her feelings concerning a decision you...

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The Better the Husband, the Better the Dad

Posted on 6/15/2021

Several columns past, I took to my bully pulpit and excoriated men who are married with children for being fathers first and husbands a distant second (maybe even third behind sports fans). My...

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Kids Don’t Need Curing, They Need Correcting

Posted on 5/18/2021

No small number of today’s parents view their children through psychological lenses, especially when it comes to misbehavior. Instead of regarding a given misbehavior as simply an error that needs...

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The Futility of Reasoning With Children

Posted on 5/4/2021

Many if not most if not almost all of today’s parents believe in magic words. They do so because the mental health professional community has for fifty years or so told them that children can be...

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Be the Best Father by Being the Best Husband You Can Be

Posted on 4/27/2021

Guys! Guys! Look, your wives, bless their hearts, are having enough trouble putting their children and priorities into proper perspective without you adding to the muddle. Keep it straight,...

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The Drama of a Child's Feelings

Posted on 4/20/2021

One of the more unfortunate consequences of relying on advice from mental health “experts” concerning parenting matters has been a one-dimensional understanding of child discipline. Because of the...

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Mom, Stop Checking Kid’s Homework

Posted on 4/6/2021

Many times have I warned parents of the pitfalls of micromanaging their children’s academic responsibilities lest said children deduce that the responsibilities in question are not theirs at all...

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Micromanagers Are Their Own Worst Enemies

Posted on 3/30/2021

To most folks, micromanagement has to do with tasks or performance. The micromanaging parent, for example, is generally thought of as one who hovers over a child’s homework or academics in...

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Smartphone Addiction Is Real

Posted on 3/10/2021

Concerning my prior use of the word “addiction” in association with smart phones and children (including teens), some people think I am speaking figuratively. To set the record straight: No, I am...

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What Is COVID Parenting?

Posted on 3/2/2021

What, pray tell, is COVID parenting? I need to know because over the past few months, several journalists have asked if I have any COVID-parenting suggestions. I went online and, sure enough, a...

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Shy Child? Don’t Fret About It

Posted on 2/16/2021

Researchers have found what many personal testimonies will confirm: most shy children, even the most painfully shy of them, are not shy adults. The progression from introversion to extroversion...

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Discipline vs. Punishment

Posted on 2/9/2021

Misusing terminology is not simply a matter of semantics. A person who confuses the meaning of words is likely to behave accordingly. That occurred to me during a conversation with...

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The Correlation Between Food and Behavior

Posted on 1/26/2021

A headache does not mean one has a brain tumor, but some brain tumors do cause headaches. Likewise, ADHD behaviors do not mean one has a food allergy, albeit some food allergies...

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The More You Try To Make Child Happy, the More Unhappy They Will Be

Posted on 1/19/2021

Making children happy became a parenting goal in the early 1970s. The paradox, as everyone with a modicum of commonsense knows, is that the more effort parents put into making a child happy, the...

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After 45 Years, Still Advocating for Old-Fashioned Parenting

Posted on 1/12/2021

2021 marks the forty-fifth year I’ve been writing this column. I’ve been told it is the longest-running syndicated column written continuously by one author. That takes “Dear Abby” out of...

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Today’s Kids Suffer a Lack of Common Sense in Their Lives

Posted on 12/22/2020

A journalist asks, “What is the biggest challenge facing today’s children?” “The real world,” I said. For the last fifty years or so, good parenting has been defined...

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'Hand in Hand' Parenting is Pure Psychobabble

Posted on 12/8/2020

“Hand in Hand” parenting is the latest iteration of progressive (nouveau, unverified) childrearing. I became aware of HIH several weeks ago, courtesy of a grandmother whose daughter and son-in-law...

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