The Modern Parenting Dilemma
Henry H. Lindner
Most parents are stuck in a dilemma. They are living Jesus' parable about pouring new wine into old bottles. The old bottles represent in this case the authoritarian type of childrearing--the way they themselves were raised. It consisted of:
The authoritarian system functioned. It produced conformity to society's rules. It produced fearful people who didn't dare think for themselves and who wouldn't dream of being selfish or breaking any laws. Our society's institutions are still structured on this authoritarian system. Coercive public schooling is the most prominent example of the old system's institutions.
However, today's parents are somewhat "enlightened". They lived through the cultural revolution of the 60's. They have more respect for their child as a person. They don't demand obedience at all times and they don't have the cruelty required to "break the child's will" and produce complete obedience. They've been taught that hitting the child is "child abuse". They want their child to develop his own creativity and thought. At the same time, they're pursuing their own self-actualization. Both Mom and Dad are deeply involved in their careers and have little time for children or housework. So both aspects of the old system have broken down, but a new system has not taken its place:
So we have what we've got: children who are ill-suited to the strict authoritarian regime of the school, who've been allowed to think that they deserve a better life, and who don't have the support they need to sublimate their animal energy and will in order to conform to a system that just doesn't make sense anymore. We have a breakdown of "discipline" in our schools and society. We have a lot of very angry, neglected and coerced children. We have boys who cannot and will not tolerate the mind-numbing boredom of school and girls who just tune out. These children are labelled as mentally-ill (Depression, Attention-deficit Disorder, Conduct Disorder) and are drugged. Thus psychiatry serves as a convenient way for parents, school, and government to blame the child and ignore their own deep-seated problems.
We must instead create new bottles for new wine. We must create a societal system that corresponds to our better ideas about children and childrearing. First and foremost, we must completely separate the State from child education and development. Eliminate coercive public schooling and allow children to become integrated into the real world of the adults. Allow a free market of learning to develop that can offer every sort of full or part-time learning experience. This huge change in the system will free children and parents from the old coercive mental paradigm of childrearing and allow an entirely different attitude and lifestyle to develop. Eventually, our society will be based upon love and cooperation, not on cruelty and coercion.