Good Parenting Practices Losing Ground


In an ideal world far, far away

For a generation of baby boomers who were raised pretty much by nurturing principles articulated by Dr. Spock and whose own parents were raised by the “spare the rod, spoil the child” model, it’s good to see that bonding between parents and child is still the preferred method of raising this current generation, by some parents at least.  Sadly however these parents are in the minority as indicated in current polls taken that studied a certain parenting model.

A poll conducted by Harris Interactive found that only 33 percent of U.S. parents read bedtime stories with their children nightly. Fifty percent of parents say their children spend more time with TV or video games than with books.

The results were similar in another poll from Australia. The Optus Literacy Study revealed that only one in four parents read a bedtime story to their child daily.   SOURCE

Good parenting is being lost out to bad parenting in so many ways but as this poll shows, it could be the result of new parents who were not raised by more disciplining parents who set down rules and guidelines for their children and carried them out.   When fifty percent of parents say their children spend more time with TV or video games than with books one has to wonder why a parent would allow this.

Technology has its place in our contemporary world today but when it starts to substitute for practices that have been proven to have great social and personal skills building for a new generation, it falls on parents to draw the line.   Clearly most can’t seem to do that today.

 smacking-gettyAnd don’t get me wrong.  I’m not for reinstating another generation’s practice of using corporal punishment to serve as an impetus to mold behavior.  At least not where it’s used as a convenience for the parent who fails to serve as a good role model for appropriate behavior.  Using fear through physical and emotional threats only suppresses the undesirable behavior which will likely allow it to resurface later in life, sometimes much worse, when the child is no longer under the thumb of a heavy-handed parent.

But I’m really not telling most people something they don’t already know, even if they are guilty of succumbing to such tactics more often than not, or worse, sorely lacking in any style of disciplinary action in raising their children.  As the poll above suggests, 50% of American parents apparently give in to their children’s demands rather than guiding them with a firm disposition that is balanced with rewards and non-physical, emotionally sound punishments.

Mother Telling Off Teenage Daughter

An informal, unscientific poll found on the MSN browser that was attached to this study illustrated that a strong majority of those who responded to the poll still understand the value of reading to kids during their formative years as opposed to allowing them to supplant such times by viewing TV shows or playing video games.

Is less bedtime reading a bad trend?

95% – Yes, parents need to foster reading in their kids – 427,719 votes

5 % – No, TV & video games aren’t as bad as people think – 20,246 votes

This particular polling data aligns with the numbers in a 2007 study that shows corporal punishment is still used by over 90 percent of American parents at some point in time, and condoned by over 60 percent of the population.   One wonders that if the MSN group were asked about corporal punishment reflected in the 2007 group’s response along side their beliefs about reading with their children, if that 2007 90% figure would drop significantly.  In other words, might there be a correlation between spending quality reading time with their children and a lesser need to spank misbehaving kids?  Just a thought


Reading to children has more value to it than merely teaching them a skill that will enable them to excel in school and better qualify them for the better jobs in society later in their lives.  Unlike interactions between kids and their hi-tech toys, reading to your children when they are young develops a bond that is deeper and lasts longer than anything Big Bird or Angry Birds can convey.

At close quarters with each other the child’s intellectual senses are not only stimulated as a parent reads to them but the senses of touch and voice tones from parents help the child capture an aspect of humanity that not only endears them to their parents but can translate into more empathetic social behaviors as the child grows and develops a circle of friends and looks for love as an adult.

When I and my wife used to read to our two children at bedtime we not only gave them some one-on-one quality time that was often absent with two parents who worked a 40 hour week but it allowed them to ask us questions about the story when it didn’t quite fit their level of understanding at the time.  This two-way interaction is missing as a child sits in front of a one-way TV tube that Marie Winn called “the sorcerer” in her 1977 study, The Plug-in Drug,  of TV’s effect on children.  The tube or electronic screen gives out information that children can’t challenge so that information gets absorbed in their fertile brains as sent and settles in for years as the de facto way of looking at what they were told or shown.

But even more valuable than asking questions about the story, kids would use this time to make parallels between what they thought they were hearing and what was going on in their own lives.  These concerns would be raised at such times and would afford us an opportunity to see what was really going on in their lives.   Something that shuts itself off as kids get older and start to distance themselves from their parents.  A natural course of events for both good bad and purposes.

Why would any parent forsake that opportunity?  Parenting is tough enough as it is, especially for dads as I have humorously demonstrated before.  Once our kids evolve into young adults we lose those opportunities to get close to them and have a lasting effect.  To this day my adult children still recall the little bedtime “night-night” song I used to sing to them when story time was over and I began to tuck them in.


Yes it was corny and both of them hated it but not because I couldn’t carry a note (I couldn’t) or because the verses were terrifying or harsh in any way.  But because I think they knew that the special time was over.  What wasn’t corny was that intimate attention they got from their mom and I in that brief time.

Neither has admitted as much to me when they remind me today how they hated to hear that little bedtime ditty.  But the fact that they readily recall it is a reminder to them, I like to tell myself, that we had that special time.  A time I hope they remember when it becomes their turn to share a close moment with their kids, should I be so lucky to be graced with grandkids before the grim reaper sings it’s own version of a bedtime song for me.


20 responses to “Good Parenting Practices Losing Ground

  1. Right On! We read to our kids, and now read to the grand kids…well only the five year old. The ten year old is at High School reading levels and reading thick novels (Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings etc.) because he was read to a lot during his early years.

  2. Reading is essential. An old slogan but oh so true…….I was made to read and my daughter still reads…she is like me…there is something comforting about hold a book over say a kindle… grand daughter is now a reader also….we encourage that and her creativity in writing….

    • Every child deserves that opportunity Dr. Chuq. It is likely that generations X & Y will fail to pass this on if they had parents who missed this opportunity with them.

      • Agree…….the parents are more to blame than the kids….life became about things and not about the kids…that is where we have failed our children….

    • Like any new technology it is as susceptible to abuses as it is to making life better. Once the genie is out of the bottle however, so to speak, it is not likely to go back in so easy if at all.

  3. For better or worse, interactivity has changed. Tactile relationships are being supplanted by digital ones. Whereas its wonderful for the amount of information now available, there is a loss physical closeness. Will this have a long-term affect/effect on future generations empathetic skills? One can only hope not.

    • The trade off doesn’t seem too promising I’ll admit but it seems at a bare minimum that parents need to understand the value of one-on-one interaction with their kids at early ages and when to block their use of electronic media

  4. We read to our children – still do with the youngest. Of the other two, the eldesat reads, the youngest does not. But we have a house full of books, which conveys the message. You can lead a horse to a metaphore etc. Incidently, I didn’t read a single book out of chopice till I was 18. I have not stopped since. When my children do read a whole book, they certainly feel that they have accomplished something.

    we live in hope.

    • I miss those times we read to our kids. I was always tired when it came time to but once I got started and the kids showed their interest then I would always liven up and even caricature those stories.

  5. I think keeping as much technology out the mix as possible is vital to good parenting. As Marshall McLuhan famously said “Television sucks the brain right out of the skull.” What’s concerning is that TV’s negatives pale in comparison to what kids have access to today.

    The majority of video games are nothing but highly addictive, adrenalin pounding,murder simulations from the perspective of the murderer.The Internet is nothing but a free-time guzzling collection of hardcore porn, child luring pedophiles, Nigerian scammers and people with nothing better to do than bully other people to the point of suicide. Loserbook, The Twit Zone and all that other social media bullshit just teaches illiteracy, hostility, attention seeking behaviour and does it in a way that demands instant reactions with as little thinking involved as possible. “Smart” phones ensure that one is permanently chained to the above, unable to concentrate on anything, lest they miss something else.

    As a whole, it makes for a child predisposed to hyperactivity, short term thinking, violence, insensitivity, social isolation and basically everything a good parent wants to rid from a child. It also dramatically cuts parental face-to-face time, especially the quality time, like book reading or playing catch.

    (And I didn’t even touch on corporate marketing to children, a plague turning children into little brainwashed, buy-bots.)

    • I tend to agree SM. Like the “wasteland” that McLuhan referred to TV as, it seems the same could be applied to the internet. For all of its benefits, it has suffered tremendously from its abuses.

  6. I recently got into an argument by suggesting that good parenting need not involve hitting kids as a disciplinary tool. The right-winger fundamentalist reminded me of “spare the rod, spoil the child.” I of course embarked on a citation to experts who say that hitting is not a good choice ever, and an explanation of the proverb. The reply? Only a parent knows anything about this issue….you aren’t one, so forget it, and you’re not a good Christian either, since you disobey a clear biblical directive. I give up. We are raising a generation of sad children who know nothing, are taught nothing, and are beaten into submission. Worse, we use media as a baby sitter, and we all know how crappy most of that offering is. We are raising kids to demand instant gratification, and quantity over quality. Our country will pay the price in years to come I fear. But then, our parents thought we would go to rack and ruin from drugs, sex and rock and roll. I remain hopeful as much as I can.

    • ” … and you’re not a good Christian either, since you disobey a clear biblical directive.”

      Sherry, you need to let this twit know that bible also tells us slavery is okay and that disobedient children should be stoned to death. Is he/she okay with these “directives”?

  7. I hate the iphone commercials that depict young people with euphoric looks on their faces while lovingly cradling their phones. They’re always looking at their phones. I see it everywhere. No one looks at the scenery any more. No one stops to witness the world and they’re barely part of it. But parents are giving their toddlers and pre-teens phones now. I can’t honestly say that this is all for the good.

    • “No one looks at the scenery any more. No one stops to witness the world and they’re barely part of it.”

      How many times Jean have you been to an open public event or in a closed venue like a restaurant and seen people who came together looking and texting on their Iphones rather than having eye-contact and conversations with each other? It is eery to see this.

    • I remember seeing an ABC poll. I can’t remember the exact percent, but a minimum of 60% of teens said they sleep with their “smart” phones in the bed with them. This number did NOT include the ones who have their phone on the night table which I expect is over 20%.

      These things are a straight up addictions and the companies who sell them know it..

      • They are definitely psychological addictions. It doesn’t bode well for their future relationships nor our society in general.

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