“Who is the most important in your family?” and other foolish questions from John Rosemond


Over at The Personalist Project today, I am taking a look at parenting columnist John Rosemond’s assertion that parents are “more important” than their children. (TL;DR: he’s wrong. But please do go read and see why I say that!)

Reading the column reminded me how important it is to ask the right questions and examine our own biases.

After accusing parents of answering his question about relative importance by “fumbl[ing] with appeals to emotion,” Rosemond himself resorts to the most emotional of all justifications, the appeal to nostalgia. He appeals to an age when children “emancipated earlier and much more successfully” because parents talked “a lot more” with each other than with their children and “did not sleep in their beds or interrupt their conversations,” a time when “the family meal, at home, was regarded as more important than after-school activities.”

Rosemond never asks whether making after-school activities a priority over family bonding is actually the decision of a parent who genuinely considers their child’s needs of primary importance to the family. Nor does he ask whether prioritizing family dinners might actually be a decision that places children’s need for stability over a parent’s hopes and wishes. (I’m sure there are children out there who are truly self-motivated to seek awards and accomplishments and public recognition, but my own observation is that parental pride is just as often the driving factor behind over-committed children.)

And, of course, Rosemond fails to ask himself whether the problem with the answer he is getting to “who in your family is most important” might be rooted in the problematic assumption underlying the question itself.

But you’ll have to head over to The Personalist Project to read about that. 😉

Mrs. Edwin Stephenson family portrait by Snyder, Frank R. Flickr: Miami U. Libraries – Digital Collections [No restrictions or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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