Bryan opens a recent post by saying:
My eldest sons just turned ten, which means I’ve been a father for ten years. Ergo, it’s time to inventory the top things I’ve learned from my decade of experience. In no particular order:
Now in his list, some of the items make sense to me, while others don’t. But I want to focus on a few for which I wonder, “What in the world does Bryan mean when he says he learned these from a decade of experience?”
To show you what I mean, first let’s look at two examples that do make perfect sense:
7. Mild discipline, mechanically enforced, deters bad behavior far more effectively than harsh discipline, arbitrarily enforced. Idle threats, no matter how lurid, (“I’ll sell you to the gypsies if you don’t eat your dinner” “I’ll turn this car to Disneyland right around”) do not improve behavior at all.
9. Expressing anger at your children is counter-productive. It undermines your authority and gives wayward children hope of besting you.
So sure, I can believe that Bryan has learned from first-hand experience what he is expressing above in #7 and #9. But now look at these:
1. Kids are a consumption good, and always have been.
2. Have kids to create beloved companions, pay forward the gift of life, and see the world anew, not to get a person to mold or boss around.
4. You have little effect on your child’s intelligence, success, or even character….
6. Don’t use discipline to turn your kid into a good person when he’s an adult. It won’t work. Use discipline to turn your kid into a good roommate when he’s a kid. It won’t work miracles, but it’s way better than nothing.
I submit that the four “lessons” above aren’t things Bryan learned from his decade of parenting, as he claimed. (Did Bryan spend the first three years teaching a kid to be honest, then the next three teaching the kid to lie?) Instead they are things he believes because he did a lot of research writing a book on children.