Summary of The Epidemic by Robert Shaw, M.D.

Thursday, October 31, 2019

I was pleasantly surprised when I picked up this book from the library. In today world when the norm is letting kids do and be whatever they want; the author write about the important of raising responsible, respectful, secure, and loving children.

"The true test of civilization is, not the census, nor the size of the cities, nor the crops - no, but the kind of man the country turns out." Ralph Waldo Emerson

Large numbers of children today are no longer developing the empathy, moral commitment, and ability to love and respect others. Children are malleable and how we rear them is the major determinant of their outcome.  Today's parents are lulled into believing the child-centric theories preached by parenting gurus: "Never let your baby cry," " He'll use the potty when he's ready." "Discipline is disrespectful," "The child's feelings should come first." But creating an atmosphere that feels satisfactory to the child all the time was leading to an increase in what we call today "narcissistic personalities." Moreover, modern parents are encouraged by culture to push their children onto an endless tract of achievement, to desperately squeeze one more enriching activity into their already full schedules.

As they grow older, our children spend much of their time pursuing entertainment rather than accomplishment: TV, video games, mall roaming, computer hacking, substance abuse, sex. When these children get into trouble academically, we are seeing a cultural tendency to dumb down standards.

Before these days, we held high standards for children at home as well as in school. As they grew, kids contributed more to the family by doing chores like washing dishes, mowing the lawn, taking care of their pets. Now they retreat to their rooms to instant message, video games, and social media.

When we don't train our children to behave, they train us to be their servants.

Critical steps parents must take to teach their kids how to live in the world at large:
  1. Establish Boundaries: Every child needs a code of appropriate behaviors to grow and thrive and fit into society. Rules and routines support our children's development.
  2. Maintain discipline: Disciplining children is out of fashion in American culture today, but children need it in order to be psychologically healthy and happy. 
  3. Teach self-control
  4. Instill respect for others
  5. Instill moral value
  6. Promote a healthy degree of separation
  7. Establish appropriate accountability, privacy, and trust. For example when a child breaks a bowl you have forbidden him to touch, he should be taught that: he misbehaved, he did damage. He created a mess that has to be handled. It is his job to clean it up. Depending on the child's age, you may help him clean up or not, but you should supervise and see that it is done appropriately. When a child can make the connection between his behavior and your responses, he will learn to control those responses by behaving in accord with the moral and ethical values of his family and society. 
Appropriate guidance and limits help to teach a child how other people feel. When parents let a child run wild, they are in fact abandoning him. On the other hand, parents who are overly strict and harshly punitive, who reacted to problem behavior mainly with anger and disappointment were likely to impede their children's prosocial development.

Be there: Parents would have to spend time with the kids or not put their children in so many activities just to keep them busy. Family time creates secure, loving, and happy children.
Have  the kids do chores
Limit media intake

11 Rules of Life written by Charles Sykes in his book: “Dumbing Down Our Kids”:

  1. “Life is not fair – get used to it.” The more time you spend complaining about the things you can’t control, the less time you’ll devote to the things you can.
  2. “The world doesn’t care about your self-esteem.” Respect is earned, not given. You need to achieve something on your own in order for others to stand up and applaud your contribution.
  3. “You won’t earn $60,000 right out of high school.” You’ll need to work your way up, and – in many ways – the lessons and failures you experience along the way will serve as your real education.
  4. “If you think your teacher is tough, wait till you get a boss.” In many cases, it’s your tuition that’s paying the teacher. In the business world, it’s the teacher who’s paying you.
  5. “Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity.” When your grandparents were young, flipping burgers was an opportunity to learn.
  6. “If you mess up, it’s not your parents’ fault … It’s yours.” Don’t waste time blaming others. They’ll resent you, and it doesn’t earn you any real respect.
  7. “Take responsibility for your own contribution, rather than waiting for others to place opportunities in front of you.” Don’t waste years of your life waiting for someone to show up on your doorsteps and hand you the roadmap to success. Go out and grab it.
  8. “Your school may have done away with winners and losers, but life has not.” Hard work is often its own reward. And consistent hard work leads to greater rewards.
  9. “Life is not divided into semesters and you won’t have the summers off.” Make time for yourself, but devote yourself to being focused and equal to the task on a daily basis.
  10. “Television is not real life.” You need to step outside your comfort zone to really experience life.
  11. “Be nice to nerds … Chances are, you’ll end up working for one.”