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Outmoded Parenting Rules

According to ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus, “The only thing that is constant is change.”  Similarly, parenting rules change over time.  Read on for outmoded parenting rules.


Spare the rod; spoil the child. This axiom extolls the benefits of using corporal punishment on children.  Today, such corporal punishment is considered abusive.

Children should be seen and not heard.  This axiom advises that children should be still and quiet when they are interacting in an adult environment (i.e., at the dinner table, when adult company is being entertained, etc.).  Today, children are allowed and encouraged to speak, be mobile, and behave in a socially appropriate manner when in an adult environment.

A woman’s place is in the home.  This axiom instructs that women are better suited than men to cook, clean, and raise children.  Today, we know that both men and women can be well suited for cooking, cleaning, and raising children.  The adeptness at and interest in these tasks are rooted in personality, and are not necessarily gender-specific.


Chain of command parenting versus egalitarian parenting.  In chain of command parenting, which was common in prior generations, parents are the bosses, and children are the unquestioning subordinates.  Parents issue commands; children follow those commands without challenge.  In egalitarian parenting, which is more common today, parents seek the perspectives of their children and attempt to obtain children’s buy-in for actions and outcomes.

Children as the center of parental life versus spouses as the center of parental life.  In prior generations, it was believed that parents should make their children the center of their lives in order to nurture the children properly.  Today, the more common perception is that parents should make their spouses the center of their lives because children will grow up and move away, but spouses may be together all the remaining days of their lives.

Rewarding outcomes versus rewarding effort.  In prior generations, parents rewarded outcomes (i.e., achievements, successes, etc.); the goal was to encourage more positive outcomes.  Today, it is more common for parents to reward effort; the goal is to praise “baby steps” of progress and not damage children’s self-esteem for failure to achieve or succeed.

In sum, times they are a changin’.  Parenting rules which we believe to be hard-and-fast are, in fact, malleable over time.

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