May 16, 2013

The Problem With "Quick-Fix" Parenting

Many will say that this day in age, people have traded slow and old-fashioned ways of doing things for anything that can be done easier, faster and cheaper. In reality, we've been doing this all along. From the invention of the wheel to laptop computers, humans have been attempting to reinvent cheap convenience since...forever. And we don't stop at technology, either.

A distressed mother called recently, desperate for help after experiencing the utter failure of a well-known quick-fix parenting program. We won't name names. But here's the summary: The entire program was based around a method that instructs parents to (upon experiencing some undesirable behavior from their children) warn their child that if the behavior has not ended by the time they count to three, that the child gets put in a time out or gets privileges taken away. Theoretically, after the count to three, the child receives their consequence and that is the "end of story." (Yeah, right.)

Tempting as it may be to seek parenting methods that publicize to get-your-kids-to-behave-themselves-in-five-minutes-or-less-for-$29.99, I can't help but think about the old familiar saying: "If it seems too good to be true, it probably is." Yet, I sit here in disbelief over the amount of (successful) parenting programs that claim to achieve exactly that. The victims being those parents in desperation to try anything.

It can't go without mentioning that there seems to also exist an underlying implication that parents are too busy to spend the necessary time working on the behavioral and emotional issues of their children. This may be another problem all on it's own, but the ultimate doom of these parenting methods seem to ultimately (and without fail) become an insurmountable heap of disaster.

Here's why they don't work:

Let's assume that the inner-workings of a developing child's brain is a highly complex and growing instrument composed of electricity and soft tissue, that has the astonishing capability to communicate, create patterns, grow and think, all the while maintaining continuous functionality of every other vital organ in the body. This instrument is actualized by biology, culture and experience. Also keep in mind that every event that this "instrument" experiences during childhood has an immeasurable influence on who that child becomes for the remainder of their lives. If you are among those individuals who believes in facts, then feel free to set aside assumptions at this point and embrace these ideas as truths. How can something as intricate as the brain of a child be permanently guided and influenced by count-to-three type parenting methods?

Wait a minute, though - there's nothing wrong with many of the advantages of life in 2013. We all want to save time, money and effort for most of life's daily tasks.

Here are some quick-fix solutions that won't haunt you later on (to name a few):
  • Microwaves
  • Self-adhesive envelopes
  • Dishwashers
  • Blow Dryers
  • Cellphones (to be debated)
But by using simple tools, with something as complex and profound as the human brain - which has the ability to react, brainstorm, re-evaluate, and re-route its behavioral avenues - it's no wonder that quick-fix parenting tricks never cease to fail.

For parents who've got nothing but a few minutes, a few dollars and (most of all) a tiny bit of effort set aside to solve the intricate behavioral dilemmas of their children, I hope they consider this question: Would you hire a heart surgeon on the same basis?

by: Selena George, Program Manager