"Part of season two is setting up boundaries with my child and giving my child responsibilities around the house. This hopefully will make him feel more of a part of the family," added White.

 

Season three—the season of mentoring—covers ages 13 to 18. The parents' job now is to help the child acquire the skills to successfully emancipate.

 

What has happened in America is that the "female parent is being frozen in season one with the husband as the child's best buddy," said Rosemond. He gave three things a mother must do to move from season one to season two successfully:

 

1) significantly lower the level of doing for the child;

2) build a boundary between self and child; and

3) reclaim her marriage in front of the child.

 

"Parenting has become bad for the mental health of the mother," he said. "Mothers are reaching for the ludicrously high bar of good motherly behavior that says a child is a reflection of the mother. … Women have allowed themselves to lose their identities, becoming two-dimensional cut-outs in their pursuit of clearing the mother bar."

 

"I have learned to remain calm yet assertive in dealing with my boys, ages 7 and 5," said Leigh Ann Martin of Roanoke, Va., who attended the parenting conference. "If my boys are defiant or ill-behaved, I don't take it personally and fret about it—I make it their problem not mine. I feel no guilt in doling out a punishment with real ‘staying power.' Basically, John's advice has alleviated me of much of the guilt I think we moms have taken on ourselves because we feel what our children do reflects on us."

 

Rosemond recommends that parents remember one simple rule: You may not always make perfect decisions but they will be better than the ones your child will make for himself. " Parents need to be proactive or you will be in a weak position. No discipline feels good at the time," he said, citing Hebrews 12:11 ("No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it" NIV).

 

Consequences Versus Feelings

One main point of departure between traditional parenting and post-modern psychological parenting is the application of consequences. "American parents are fooling around with consequences," said Rosemond. "When yesterday's child misbehaved, the child felt guilty. When today's child misbehaves, it's the mother who feels guilty."

 

That change in associated guilt can be traced to the pendulum swing from a focus on the child's behavior to a child's feelings. Rosemond contended that today's parents—particularly mothers—spend too much time talking to children about their feelings and much less time trying to discipline their children for misbehaving.

 

"Children need an outside agent to assist in feeling bad about misbehaving so that as an adult, they will feel bad about misbehaving on their own," he said.

 

"Rosemond's reminder to wait for the right opportunity to punish instead of punishing immediately was priceless for us," said Martin. "My husband looked at me and said, ‘Now that was worth the price of admission.'"

 

Marriage Trumps Child

Rosemond emphasizes a strong marriage is the best foundation for children. "When we lose that marriage, we lose something fundamental in child rearing," he said.