The Collapse of Parenting?

 “Stop seeking out the storms and enjoy more fully the sunlight.” ― Gordon B. Hinkley


Guest-blogger Kelli O’Dell joins iParent today:


Are you ambivalently drawnrepelled by parenting book titles like this: The Collapse of Parenting: How We Hurt Our Kids When We Treat Them Like Grown-Ups?  

Me too. But I usually take the bait. Dr. Leonard Sax hooked me this time.

Sax is a triple-threat to slack parenting: doctor, psychologist and author. Been doing it for decades. He knows his stuff. He wrote some other books you may have heard of: Boys Adrift and Girls on the Edge. See what I mean? Irresistible, those titles.

But don’t let Sax fool you with those sensational titles of his, he actually advocates a real meat-and-potatoes parenting style.

Now I love me my meat and potatoes (medium well, mashed with excess butter) but some kids defy the old-school parenting logic Sax promotes. So I give him 3 outta 5 possible stars for Collapse; but only because I have Mowgli for a son.

But Sax easily gets a raving 5 outta 5 stars for this from his book: He thinks families should make fun times together a priority. A big priority. He says having fun together is powerful.


Dr. Sax asserts that kids will respect whatever authority (person or group) they attach to emotionally. He urges parents to apply this principle in two ways:

  • Think about restricting the amount of time your kids spend with peers. Question the automatic sleepovers and play dates, or at least the number of them.
  • Increase and invent family fun. Not just vacations, but habits and traditions of warmth and enjoyment.

In other words: do fun things with your kids and they might spend less time fighting your authority or going to their peers for advice.


Speaking of having fun, I like to throw randomly-themed parties every once in a while.

I’m usually inspired to do so somewhere around late February, when the “I’m so done with hibernation” crowd is in peak easy-to-please form.

One such party was what I called the “Wisdom Party” (owl decor was in raging and annoying vogue then). I asked my guests to bring three bits of practical wisdom. In exchange, they got food, drink and respite from an intolerably long winter.

What worked that night was that we shared wisdom…without sharing advice.

Stoking the Fire


Let’s re-boot the wisdom party, e-style. Still free and easy:

Read the following ways our family has experienced consistent fun and then share yours in the comment section below. You don’t have to do three, by the way. And I know you’ve got ’em, because I stole most of mine from someone else:

  1. One-on-one dates. We schedule weekly dates for one parent and one kid where it’s all about them. We budget a humble $10 for whatever they want to do or eat.
  2. “Dessert of the Week”. In a two-birds-with-one stone move, our kids feel empowered and special getting to choose their favorite sweet and mom reduces the sugar-induced hype to once a week.
  3. The “Manly-Pedi”. As a mother of all boys, the amount and ways of showing physical affection seems to narrow all the time. But the offer of: “Want a foot rub?” hasn’t been turned down yet.

Who in your life do you trust and respect more because they made time to have fun with you?

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