Harsh statements of the Swedish psychiatrist about modern liberal education
At a time when many of the traditional rules of education by modern parents are being questioned and rejected, we can observe the other side of this process - the loss of parental authority. In an attempt to become children only a friend, parents cease to fulfill their primary tasks - to guide, protect and establish rules. And for this, they should be the main ones in the family, and children should reckon with their requirements and conditions.
David Eberhard is the author of the book Children in Power. The monstrous fruits of liberal education ”is convinced that the family cannot be a democratic institution, and a liberal education based on super-care and the fear of causing a child psychological trauma does not prepare children for real life. This threatens with the fact that children grow up terribly ill-mannered, but in adulthood they often succumb at the slightest difficulty.
Swedish psychiatrist, author of books David Eberhard says that liberal education harms both children and parents. Jeannette Otto talks to him in Stockholm.
Zeit: When was the last time you were with your children in a restaurant?
David Eberhard: Most recently. Why do you ask?
Zeit: Because the owners of establishments in Stockholm are fed up with children who do not know how to behave. One cafe even banned entry for families [with children]. And this is in child-loving Sweden.
Eberhard: I understand perfectly what is at stake. There are always children who shout, spill drinks, rush around the room or open the front door wide open at minus five degrees. Parents are sitting together, and do not even think to interfere.
“Zeit”: Why then do not others think of children?
Eberhard: No one decides. Parents are very unpleasant when their children are criticized. Previously, our society was a society of adults. There were common values regarding education issues. If the child behaved indecently, they approached him and said: stop it! Such consistency no longer exists. We adults are no longer responsible for each other, but only for our children.
Zeit: Your new book, Children in Power, is published in German in a few weeks. In it, you claim that the liberal upbringing as a method failed. Why?
Eberhard: Because parents no longer behave like responsible adults. They believe that they should be the best friends of their children. They put themselves on the same level with the children, not venturing to contradict them and set boundaries. They no longer make any decisions, but they want to be as steep, advanced as rebels as their children. Now our society consists only of teenagers.
Zeit: Do you really think that German parents also allow their children to dictate to themselves where to go on vacation, what to eat and what to watch on TV?
Eberhard: Many people recognize themselves in this portrait. Parents reluctantly endure their problems with education. They say: everything is in order, it's not about us! However, their conscience is constantly gnawing at them, because they believe that many things are doing wrong. They come tired in the evening from work, and prepare what the child likes, because they do not want to engage in discussions with him.They allow him to sit at the TV for longer than the stipulated time to be at rest. They spend their holidays where the children will be busy, although without children they would never have been there. I am not saying that this is wrong. I say only that the life of the parents should not revolve only around the child. There is no scientific evidence that this has a positive effect on the future of children, that they become more successful or carefree in adult life.
David Eberhard accepted me for an interview in his apartment in downtown Stockholm. The budgie chirps, the children are still at school and kindergarten. David pulls out four books from his bookcase. His favorite topics are upbringing, the desire of society for security and the adults' obsession with safety. In the Swedish edition of his new book, his son was captured in a vest of reflective fabric, a helmet, fastened in a children's car seat. To talk, he came straight from his clinic. He is a leading psychiatrist in a team of 150 employees, his third wife is a nurse.
Zeit: You yourself have six children. Who sets the rules in the family?
Eberhardt: I am.
Zeit: And there are no democratic family structures?
Eberhard: I do not find that the family should be a democratic institution at all. The relationship between adults and children is always asymmetric. This is a master-student relationship. One teaches, the other listens. Parents can better assess circumstances because they have more experience, they know more. They must set the rules.
Zeit: How do you manage, in the midst of a liberal Swedish society, to raise your own children in a strict and authoritarian manner?
Eberhard: I can't be too different from other parents, otherwise my children will get in trouble. And militant authoritarianism would not be allowed to me.
"Zeit": So you should keep yourself in hand?
Eberhard: Oh well, well (laughs). And my other readers think that I want a return to military education, back to corporal punishment. I never wrote like that. I never beat children.
Zeit: In Germany, there is now a lot of discussion about the Pope’s statement about the acceptability of light slaps as a method of education. In your book you write that there is no evidence that children raised in severity, including those who were beaten up, live worse. How close are you to the Pope's opinion?
Eberhard: In this issue, I completely disagree with him.My point is that for children it is important that they are brought up so as to conform to the values and norms of the society in which they live. For children who grew up in a society where such strokes are taken as the norm, they are not so [mentally] traumatized. But parents in the West are afraid of everything now, believing that even the slightest criticism can hurt a child. They no longer consider it necessary to tell her daughter in the puberty period: do not eat so much chocolate, otherwise you will grow fat, because they are afraid that the girl will immediately hit the other extreme up to anorexia. At the same time, we may well demand something from the children, they will withstand it. Do not treat them like porcelain dolls.
Eberhard understands the book in detail with the fears of parents. Although today there are hardly any serious dangers for young families, new and new fears are emerging. Eberhard in many examples shows the contradictions of modern parents. He provokes them, wants to encourage them to think about their behavior. He draws his conclusions from many international studies. For example, to strengthen the resilience of children, says Eberhard, you need to teach them to cope with troubles from an early age.
"Zeit": Where does fear come from inflicting harm on the child with upbringing and rigor?
Eberhard: I have the impression that parents are obliged to specialists.
Zeit: ... that is, people like you?
Eberhard: I tell parents that they should not read too many different advisers.
Zeit: Only your book is enough.
Eberhard: You can blame me for this. But, for example, John Bowlby, whose attachment theory is considered undoubted, is often interpreted by experts too freely. This leads to the fact that parents think that they will harm children if they give them too early to the nursery, where they will spend more time with the teacher, than with the mother. But I have not seen a single child who is more attached to a teacher than to a mother.
Zeit: Danish Jesper Juul gathers entire halls in Germany for his reports on authenticity and partner treatment of a child.
Eberhard: Oh, if I wanted, it would soon be with me too!
Zeit: How do you explain the success of Yuula?
Eberhard: He appeared at the right moment and headed straight into this educational vacuum. Nobody wants an authoritarian upbringing any more, as well as an analogue of the “invisible hand of the market”,which itself will raise a child. Owners do not want to listen to their own parents, and to rely only on intuition seems overly frivolous. Jesper Juul says very simple things. Others are reasonable, the rest are not. His first book, The Competent Child, did without a single recommendation; it was indifferent to parents. And suddenly everyone started talking about the fact that a child should not only be punished, but also praised.
"Zeit": You can not praise?
Eberhard: Yes, and not only Jual says that. If my daughter wants to show me her drawing, then the maximum I can do is say: O, drawing! How interesting! Have you become happy by drawing a picture? But this is wrong communication, I am not like that, why should I pretend? Parents must accurately select each word before pronouncing it to the child. If only not to shame him, not to deprive of self-confidence or to subject oppression to competition. The problem with the experts in their moralizing. They tell parents what to do and what not. Parents in search of landmarks absorb dogmas and ideologies, from which it is not so easy to get rid of later.
Eberhard harshly judges about specialists in the field of education, although he does not say that parents can not learn from them.Expert knowledge is too often based on their own views and common sense, that is, things that parents can grasp on their own. It is important that in their own home no one can be an expert. First-class specialists are only parents without children.
Zeit: German parents dream of Bullerby or Lönnebergi.
Eberhard: And the Swedes are still in love with madness in the history of Astrid Lindgren and all these idyllic pictures. But think about how the children grew up in these books. They wander all day long, back and forth, unattended, without helmets and sun hats. Michael tied his little sister Ida at the top of the flagpole. And Lotta from the street Krakhmakar rode with her siblings on the roof of Volkswagen, the "beetle". Now it all became completely unthinkable. Today, parents and the juvenile affairs agency (Jugendamt) are mutually holding each other's guns. In the kindergarten of my son, all children must wear helmets already when sledding!
Zeit: What's wrong with wanting to protect children?
Eberhard: Overdocking. If we want to get this competent child, then he needs to be allowed to go to school alone.At the age of six, the child is already capable of this, even in a city with a lot of traffic. Parents do not allow this, but at the same time offer the child to make decisions or discuss each issue on an equal basis with adults. Many adults are contradictory, it doesn’t make any sense at all that spurs a child, promotes development, and what goes on as an unnecessary burden.
Zeit: What are the consequences?
Eberhard: We do not prepare children well for adulthood, fooling them, that something bad will never happen to them, that we always exist for them, that they are the navel of the earth. In my psychiatric clinic, I meet with young people who came to me because, for example, a girlfriend broke up with them because of the death of the dog. They have difficulty coping with ordinary experiences.
“Something is wrong” - such is the frequent expert opinion of Eberhard in practical work. Parents were looking for medical answers to their helplessness. And the diagnosis - attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, they were relieved because they got an explanation for the child’s behavior, and could no longer blame themselves.Parents are amazed that their children are tired, irritated, hyperactive, but they do not have the idea to send the child to sleep early or to prohibit a teenager from hanging around the computer for midnight. Eberhard does not skimp on criticism.
Zeit: Germany has long been focused on Sweden in the care of children and equality. Now tell me: stop, finally, go after us!
Eberhard: Because we went too far. We no longer control liberalization, and the issue of equality has become one of the social dogmas. We all give up children in the nursery at the age of one year. Further, mothers and fathers work as far as possible on an equal footing, whenever possible equally much, if possible in equal positions. No one should be in the tail of someone. Work is the only way to become a man. We absorb it from a young nail. Parenthood is no longer a value in itself. Parents must immediately decide who stays at home with the child and for how long, and who continues to work.
The phone rings, it's his wife. He should hang out the washed laundry. Bed linen of the youngest son should dry up in the evening. He interrupts the interview to settle his household chores.
Zeit: And what if a woman decides to stay at home longer?
Eberhard: No woman can afford that already. The charge will be excessive. She will turn into a reactionary, old-fashioned traitor to her gender.
"Zeit": "Hen", a personal pronoun of the neuter gender, became official in the Swedish lexicon. Thus, should avoid talking about the child "he" or "she."
Eberhard: This is cruel treatment of children, fortunately, practiced so far only in a few children's institutions. This leveling ignores all scientific knowledge about the biological development of children. We have a huge problem with teenage boys (teenagers). They can not cope on their own with school affairs, because they are no longer treated like boys.
Zeit: Is that why Swedish schools have dropped so much in comparison with the international level?
Eberhard: Not only for this reason. The problem is also in our teachers. Their authority is insignificant. Children do not consider it necessary to obey them, since they do not obey their own parents. As a result, drop in results. According to the Pisa study, Swedish schoolchildren are in the lead in terms of absenteeism, insulting teachers and vandalism.And do not forget: in terms of self-confidence!
"Zeit": Typical for children who are constantly in the center of care and attention.
Eberhard: Yes, and these children-the "navels of the earth" become adults then, and come, for example, to the Swedish television show "Idol." They are looking for singing talents who will become superstars tomorrow. And here they come there, and in general can not sing. But they do not even know it. The jury, having recovered from astonishment, asks: did not you ever say that you can not sing?
Zeit: His parents were too cowardly?
Eberhard: They did not want to injure the poor child. And so are the arrogant scabs who go into the world with a completely distorted picture of their own abilities. Focusing only on the child is not the best method of education in the world. If this were so, our children would love us more than anyone anywhere in the world. But this is not so. As soon as we grow old and grow old, they take us to a nursing home. In other countries, families live together, because parents are also valued in old age.
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