- The Violence Trap
- By Barrington H. Brennen,
November 28, 2006
moms and dads today cannot effectively parent and train their children.
This is one of the profound reasons we are having so much emotional and
physical violence, disrespect, dishonor, vulgarity, and drug addiction in
our society. Why are parents unable to parent their children effectively?
The answer is deeply philosophical and at the same time fundamentally
simple. Most parents of today might have been parented well but were not
taught how to parent their own children. Parents of the so-called “good old
days” had control over their children, not with reason and intellectual
skill, but with fear and coercion. However, those same children who were
raised under the authoritarian rulership of believed-to-be-reasonable
parents, were obviously not taught in a way so they would be able to
transmit to their own children the same values and principles under which
they were taught.
- The authoritarian
parenting style of yesteryear was devoid of training skills that have
not equipped today’s moms and dads to face the challenges of parenting
in a post-modern society. It has created what I call years of “social
illiteracy” in our society. This “social illiteracy,” has actually
caused today’s post modern youth to fall into a violence trap. Parents
are guilty of creating a trap from which it seems almost impossible to
be freed unless radical intervention occurs. (See part two entitled “Releasing
the Violence Trap.”)
- THE SKILLS
- What are these
fundamental skills? Before listing these important skills, let me
provide the foundation on which they will be cultivated. Ellen G.
White, a great author of family life, writes in her book Child
Guidance: “The family is a church over which parents preside. The first
consideration of parents should be to work for the salvation of their
children.” Directing children to Jesus is the foundation on which all
other training can happen. This spiritual nurture makes attaining the
primary goal of parenting easier.
primary goal of parenting is to train a child who is able to govern his or
her life positively under any circumstance without external coaxing and
prompting. This is called self-government. How is this done? This is
achieved by teaching these three basic skills to the child:
Independent thinking. It is imperative that parents encourage
children to think for themselves. First, independent thinking is
realized by creating an interest in reading (not television viewing)
through parental modeling and by reading to and then with the child.
Second, it is achieved by allowing the child to fail. Teach that
successful failure is growing through painful circumstances. It is
making room for wrong choices and learning from them. Third, it is
achieved by encouraging the child to speak his mind and valuing her
opinion even when it does not make sense. This approach was a taboo
yesteryears. A child was not allowed to think for himself.
2) Critical thinking. This is a most crucial skill that if
present, will reduce the risk of children growing up to a life of
violence. Critical thinking is the ability to reason, evaluate
objectively, ask appropriate questions, and attain rational
conclusions. It is obvious that most of our youth lack this ability. If
it feels good, looks good, tastes good, sounds cool is the limit of
their reasoning for selection of appropriate behavior. This is
fundamentally flawed. Parents can teach children how to develop
critical thinking by asking them questions. Parents should discuss with
their children the principles and concepts of whatever they are
requesting them to do. It is only through this kind of training that
the children will have ownership of these values and principles. This
is how the values taught are transmitted down through the generations.
3) Original thought. Original thought, although closely
connected to critical and independent thinking, is the ability to
create, in one’s own imagination, or through higher critical thinking
methods, original ideas that are unique to that individual. This is
most important because it allows the child to become creative,
spontaneous, and more fun to be around. People who can develop original
thought are less likely to become chronically bored. Thus, they may not
resort to a lifestyle leading to violence.
What makes it very
difficult for children to develop independent or critical thinking and
most of all, original thought, is the television. The television robs
growing children’s ability to think for themselves. According to the
American Academy of Pediatrics “too much television too early in life
actually prevents the full development of the brain.
The first two
years of life are especially important in the growth and development of
your child's brain . . . Until more research is done about the effects
of TV on very young children, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)
does not recommend television for children age two or younger. For older
children, the Academy recommends no more than one to two hours per day
of educational, nonviolent programs.”
Parents, to avoid the
violence trap, start training your children to think independently.
Read Releasing the Violence
Barrington Brennen is a
marriage and family therapist and counseling psychologist. Send your
question or comments to
firstname.lastname@example.org or write
to P.O. Box N-896, Nassau, The Bahamas or call 242-323 8772 or visit the