Stupid Things Parents Do to Mess Up Their Kids

Stupid Things Parents Do to Mess Up Their Kids

3.8 6
by Laura Schlessinger

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Following her previous New York Times bestsellers, Dr.Laura Schlessinger, the conscience of talk radio, now addresses an issue near and dear to her heart: the stupid things parents do to mess up their children. Never one to shy away from tough truths, Dr. Laura marshals compelling evidence for the widespread neglect of America's children and convincingly


Following her previous New York Times bestsellers, Dr.Laura Schlessinger, the conscience of talk radio, now addresses an issue near and dear to her heart: the stupid things parents do to mess up their children. Never one to shy away from tough truths, Dr. Laura marshals compelling evidence for the widespread neglect of America's children and convincingly condemns the numerous rationalizations to excuse it. These are just a few of her hard-hitting points:

  • Don't Have Them If You Won't Raise Them: "The cavalier manner in which our society treats child care, not as a matter of intimacy and love, but as a matter of convenience and economics, is deeply destructive to our children's sense of attachment, identity, and importance."
  • Dads Need Not Apply: "Single motherhood may be more acceptable to society, but it is not acceptable to children; nor is it in their best interest."
  • Brave New Baby: "In our society, reproductive freedom means anyone can decide to create a life by any means with no, and I mean no, consideration of what is in the best interest of that new human being."
  • Spare the Rod: "Children without discipline often become adults with tempertantrums, defiance, rage, depression, anxiety, poor school and work adjustment, drug and alcohol abuse."
Stupid Things Parents Do to Mess Up Their Kids covers all aspects of parenting and also tackles such cultural and societal concerns as abortion, modern sexuality, drug and alcohol use, violence, discipline, and a child's right to privacy.

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HarperCollins Publishers
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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

The Death of the Family

Here, Dad. I'd like you to sign this form and have it notarized:

"I, the undersigned Dad, attest that I have never parented before, and insofar as I have no experience in the job, I am liable for my mistakes and I agree to pay for any counseling in perpetuity Calvin may require as a result of my parental ineptitude."

I don't see how you're allowed to have a kid without signing one of those!

Calvin and Hobbes, by Bill Watterson, 1993

"The Family Must Go!"

"The nuclear family structure has to be abolished before women can be totally liberated was the opinion of 100 participants in the first statewide [Wisconsin] Women's Liberation Conference..." (The Sentinel, May 11, 1970). The articlegoes on to say that "Feminists at the conference believe a child shouldn't be limited to one mother or father. They say the child would benefit from being reared by a variety of individuals."

Mrs. Carl W. Thompson, then associated with the Center for Women's and Family Living at the University of Wisconsin, and wife of Senator Thompson, prophesied that "In twenty years there won't be the formal marriage as today. It's happening now. These [fluid, unmarried couplings] are meaningful relationships. They just don't want to get into the traditional thing."

While many feminists have decried marriage, parenthood, and child care as oppressive, degrading, and designed to enslave women, most folksyearn for the love, commitment, home, hearth, and attachments that marriage and families provide -- however imperfectly.

Nonetheless, the paranoia and hyper-individualism projected by that conference did accurately portend the destruction of the family. Under the mantle of exaggerated freedom of expression and experience came a loosening of the ties that bind us. No-fault, no-stigma divorce; shacking up without shame; bearing children out of wedlock as a privilege; aborting babies for personal convenience; birth control for pregnancy-free promiscuity; tolerating single parenting and gay adoption as valid social experiments; and constant propaganda promoting child-free parenting through day care have all served to undermine the value and very existence of the family unit.

Family is what kids need and want. "Almost one-quarter (22 percent) of Generation X (ages eighteen to twenty-four) say that a lack of family structure and guidance are the most important issues it faces..." according to a poll reported in USA Today (October 30, 1995). These concerns take precedence over AIDS and illiteracy (each 15 percent), violence (14 percent), and drugs (9 percent). "'The collapse of many of our social institutions, like the family, has left its mark on them,' said Ross Goldstein of Generation Insights that tracks social trends."

There is no question that Generation X has been damaged by the coming to pass of Mrs. Thompson's greatest dream. According to an article on the politics of Gen X in the August 1999 issue of the Atlantic Monthly:

Gen Xers have internalized core beliefs and characteristics that bode ill for the future of American democracy. This generation is more likely to describe itself as having a negative attitude toward America, and as placing little importance on citizenship and national identity, than its predecessors. And Xers exhibit a more materialist and individualistic streak than did their parents at a similar age. Moreover, there is a general decline in social trust among the young, whether that is trust in their fellow citizens, in established institutions or in elected officials. These tendencies are, of course, related: heightened individualism and materialism, as Alexis de Tocqueville pointed out, tend to isolate people from one another, weakening the communal bonds that give meaning and force to notions of national identity and the common good.

The article minimizes the influence on Xer apathy of the breakdown of the traditional family where children learn about love, commitment, obligation, compassion, and duty. Instead, the analysis goes on at great length about the importance of the politics of the economy. Yet, later, the text offers that "There are numerous indications that Xers -- many of whom grew up without a formal religion -- are actively searching for a moral compass to guide their lives, and a recent poll suggests that the highest priority for the majority of young adults is building a strong and close-knit family."

No matter what, it always comes back to the family. It is within the family, and best in the context of a relationship with G-d, that children come to believe life in general, and their life in particular, is worth living and has meaning and ultimate purpose. Otherwise, children are left with only the most self-centered survival mode -- acquire and compete. I haven't read too many autobiographies of folks who described themselves as happy with only those two concepts to guide and comfort them. Have you?

In fact, one particular section of Senator John McCain's 1999 autobiography was heralded as "the rare passage in a political book parents will want to read aloud to their children" (Los Angeles Times, September 6, 1999). Noting that McCain spent five and one-half years as a prisoner of war in Vietnam, the reporter wrote, "In captivity, he demonstrated a personal fortitude that answers any questions about his capacity to handle the pressure of the White House. Yet the book's most powerful moment is his realization, in the darkest hours, that what allowed him to survive was not so much his individual strength as his communal allegiances -- his religious conviction, love of country and faith in his fellow prisoners. The candidate writes, ' not a decoration for valor...[It] belongs to the act of being constant to something greater than yourself, to a cause, to your principles, to the people on whom you rely, and who rely on you in return.'"

This is not what we are teaching our children. As we marginalize the value of traditional family allegiance and sacrifice, we are creating an "each for himself" mindset...

Stupid Things Parents Do To Mess Up Their Kids. Copyright © by Dr. Laura Schlessinger. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Meet the Author

Dr. Laura Schlessinger, a licensed marriage and family therapist, is one of the most popular talk-show hosts in radio history and the only woman to win the prestigious Marconi Award for syndicated radio. She is the author of twelve New York Times bestsellers, writes a daily blog, and is a regular Newsmax columnist. She is heard daily on Sirius/XM Channel 155 live, and her program is streamed and podcast on Dr. Schlessinger has her own YouTube Channel ( She is also the skipper and driver of a racing sailboat program that won the 2010 international race from Newport Beach to Cabo San Lucas. She and her husband live in Southern California.

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Stupid Things Parents Do to Mess Up Their Kids 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I see parents all the time yelling at their kids, and sometimes even making their kids embarrassed in front of other people. I remember that being done to me, and I am tellling you all right now: Be open to chnage, even if you think you have barely any chnace of being proven wrong, it is always good to think outside the box/ paradigm. If you can do this, then you are probably comfortable with yourself. Also, if you have a uncomfortable reaction to Dr Laura's comments, i wonder how many of you are afraid of changing. Even the best can get better, and that applies to everything. My old boss is one of the best, and he just keeps on getting better. You parents: If you are great, why would it hurt to follow some of the advice in this book? Sometimes your kids peers have gotten to your kids before you have, but that does not ever mean that you should stop trying. Please, I don't want my kid being bullied by your kids, or grandchildren. Hey, if you bring up your kids differnet, there might be a chance that it won't be their fault if they end up in jail, in that case it really would be appropriate for them to say 'It wasn't my fault!' Please read this book, as many of the parents today put too much emphasis on how the parent is always right. Please read this book!
husband-and-father More than 1 year ago
Dr. Laura tells it like it is, saying what needs to be said rather than what's popular. She champions the true needs and care of children, spells out the most common pitfalls that parents fall into, and encourages parents to make the necessary sacrifices for their kids. This book is loaded with examples to illustrate her points. For those who are serious about giving their children their best, this is a must read. Enjoy!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
Although Dr. Laura had some good ideas regarding spending quality and quantity time with children and generally taking responsiblity for them and making them accountable, she obviously had a 'bone to pick' with the entire daycare industry. A better title for this book may have been 'Why Dr. Laura Hates Daycare and Any Parent Who Puts Their Child There is Selfish!' I truly wish I had this book on-line so I could do a word-count on the word 'selfish' in regards to parents who choose daycare as an option for raising children. There are good daycare situations, there are poor ones. Just as there are good parents and there are bad ones. For Dr. Laura to make so many vindictive assessments of parents who choose a lifestyle different then hers, shame on you! Rather then berating daycare, present the cons AND PROS. There are pros and cons to any situation...including working at night (like Dr. Laura did) and having a parent around 24x7. There is also something to be said for children experiencing both parents present at the same time (i.e. 'working parents', a topic that Dr. Laura did not even touch upon. The obvious bias of this book was a huge turn off. I gave it 2 stars rather then 1 since it had a few good ideas. None of these ideas are overly original, but this book served as a good reminder. Just the same, I will use this book now to line my bird cage.