The Dangers of Therapeutic Parenting

The Dangers of Therapeutic Parenting

Another powerful culture that has infected parents and their children is the culture of therapeutic parenting.

Many parents believe certain dangerous therapeutic parenting myths:

Myth 1. Children are fragile. The reality, according to mountains of research, is that children are not nearly as fragile as we have made them out to be. Once they are infected with the entitlement virus, their behaviors can become out of control and extreme, but that does not result from them being fragile; it is a result of them becoming entitled. In fact, most research tells us that if underlying love, care, and attachment are present; most children are extremely resilient in the face of ordinary kinds of mistakes, non-abusive anger, and parents’ inevitable episodes of self-centeredness, inattentiveness, and overreaction.

Myth 2. A child’s uniqueness is more valuable than their ability to conform. The myth that each child is a one-of-a-kind flower that cannot bloom as beautifully if they are expected to conform to the pattern of the garden not only is incorrect, but also actually detracts from the potential of the child to develop their uniqueness. It takes an ability to conform and an ability to express unique gifts and talents to become a contributing human being that best serves others.

Myth 3. Parents do not have direct influence over their children, especially teenagers. Therefore parents do not put up the kind of fight necessary to help their children grow. The truth is that children need both love and limits. We cannot allow the societal zeitgeist, marketing of Madison Avenue, television, sports, pop stars, or what’s cool at school to raise our children. We must parent. We must set limits, determine the values that will be revered in our homes, and stand for something important so our children will not fall for things too small for their potential.

Myth 4. Self-esteem is critical for children to succeed in life and it is our jobs as teachers and parents to provide it. Children need to develop an intrinsic sense of their value and worth, but parents and teachers cannot provide self-esteem to a child. When children learn what it means to esteem themselves, their families, their teachers, their leaders, their friends, and their country they naturally develop esteem within themselves. But when the focus is on just the first word self, our children can become victims of the blinding effects of entitlement to the point that it steals their peace, confidence, worth, and happiness.

Myth 5. I am responsible for my child’s choices. After all they are just children. You are NOT responsible for your child’s choices or their lives, they are. YOU are responsible for giving your child every opportunity to grow and learn how to make good, wise, well thought out choices, and then they are responsible for making them. Part of your job as a parent is to allow your children to think for themselves, be creative and figure things out. My dear friend Jim Fay, co-founder of the legendary Love and Logic Institute tells us:

“Some day your kids are going to need to figure things out for themselves. Wouldn't it be unfortunate if they found themselves in a dangerous or tempting situation when they get their first opportunity?

Don't pass up an opportunity to give your kids practice-figuring things out for themselves while they are still young. It's tempting in this fast-paced world to do things that kids could do for themselves. It's quicker, we're pressed for time, and it feels so good to help them.

But the bad news is that many parents pass up opportunity after opportunity to say, "I bet you can figure that out. Give it a try; I'll be here later if you need some help." Those parents put their kids at risk for believing unstated messages that say, "I have to do this because you are not capable."

Children need to learn responsibility. Responsibility makes more of our children. When they can take responsibility for their lives they are better prepared to succeed. Authors Linda and Richard Eyre state,

"Responsibility is not a matter of maturity,
but the cause of it - and a major responsibility of parents is to teach responsibility.
Responsibility means to become mature in the sense of being responsible to family, to self, to society. It means being responsible for all aspects of our lives and our situations; for our talents, for our potential, for our feelings, for our thoughts, for our actions, for our freedom. On its most basic level, responsibility is obedience. At its next higher level it becomes morality or care for how our actions and attitudes affect others. Then, at its highest level, it becomes service.”

                                                           Linda and Richard Eyre,
                                                                           Teaching Your Children Responsibility

The earlier levels of responsibility prepare a child to accept and add to the later levels. The sequence of responsibility can best be understood in diagram form. I have altered Richard and Linda Eyre’s diagram by adding a level of responsibility for learning.


Responsibility as:

Responsibility for:

Responsibility to:






+ learning



Parents &


+ morality

Talents & gifts
happy attitude



+ discipline




+ service



Make sure your children know you expect a GREATT™ deal from them because you believe they are Capable of Greatness

“The major value in life is not what you get.
The major value in life is what you become.
That is why I wish to pay fair price for every value.
If I have to pay for it or earn it,
that makes something of me.
If I get it for free, that makes nothing of me.”

                                                                   Jim Rohn

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referenced: William J. Doherty, Take Back Your Kids, Sorin Books, 2000 (P.O. Box 1006, Notre Dame, IN 46556-1006).