One of the more difficult facts for today’s parents, as a rule, to wrap their heads around is the … I’ll say it again, with emphasis … fact that children do not need (as a general rule) a lot of attention.
I was there, working as a journeyman psychologist in a community mental health center, when the children-need-lots-of-attention myth had its genesis. The professional consensus at the time (early 1970s) was that any persistent inappropriate behavior was a “cry for attention.” Said another way, the parents of the child in question were depriving him of feeling that the universe had been eagerly anticipating his arrival ever since the Big Bang. The parents in question were irresponsible, neglectful; at best, lazy.
This myth lives on in the form of mommy-guilt. An all-too-typical mom recently told me that if she even sits down for a moment during the day to catch her breath, she almost immediately begins to feel that she’s being selfish, that she should be doing something (anything will do) for her kids — yet another example of how bad parenting advice from mental health professionals has greatly increased the perceived need for mental health professional advice.
Today, the child who seems to need constant attention is interpreted as a “high needs” child, as if he was born that way when the fact is that the child is an attention-addict. He was not born an attention-addict but became such by virtue of being given entirely too much attention on demand….
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