On Wednesday my youngest child turned 20 years old, marking the end of over 14 years of parenting teenagers. I once heard a joke that went something like “your grandchildren are your reward for not strangling your teenagers.” To be honest, I’m not sure that teenagers are significantly more challenging than toddlers. They are certainly more expensive than toddlers, but each is challenging in their own way. I am proud to say that I enjoyed my teenagers. They were a lot of fun. I’m extremely grateful they survived. And exactly what they survived? I really don’t ever want them to tell me.
So today, while contemplating my complete transition over to parenting adult children, I discovered a very disturbing article in the paper about a fake parenting study published by the satirical magazine The Onion as a joke. I have no quarrel with The Onion’s article. I am taking issue with the people who thought it was for real and agreed with it. Now that is scary. The Onion article heading was “Study Finds Every Style of Parenting Produces Disturbed, Miserable Adults.” They pretended a study was conducted and found that no parenting practices or styles were successful; that every parenting style produced “profoundly unhappy adults” who are bitter and isolated, and “unprepared to contend with life’s difficulties.” The story was a joke. It was run in the same issue with an article entitled “Nation Finally Just Breaks Down and Begs Smart People to Fix Everything.” The make-believe research study mentioned in the article is attributed to the California Parenting Institute (CPI) in Santa Rosa (just down the road from me).
When Robin Bowen, executive director of CPI arrived at work on Thursday morning her office was swamped with phone calls and emails from people who believed the article was true and wanted copies to prove that they were right all along in their theories that no matter what parents do it doesn’t make a difference in how their children turn out! One woman called because she is writing a book about how parenting doesn’t really have any impact on children and she wanted a copy of the report. CPI has been working hard for over 33 years to provide parenting education in an effort to help people raise healthy, happy children.
I am astonished and shocked that there are so many people who seem to think that parenting makes little difference on how children develop and eventually turn out as adults. The fact that so many people thought the study was for-real and agree with it is pretty disheartening. I know that no one who reads my blog is this ignorant, so I’m preaching to the choir here. But I just have to say, I think all the problems of the world would go away if everyone raised their children well.
Next Sunday I will be on vacation and won't be blogging. I'll be back again the next week.