Parent-Centered Parenting: In Which She Connects the Dots Between Wildly Disparate Newspaper Features.

WaTi publishes a special "Family Times" section each Sunday, in which they run the ever-controversial John Rosemond's "Living With Children" column side by side w. also-controversial pediatrician and parenting expert T. Berry Brazelton's "Families Today." Hub & I are often amused because the columns frequently address the same difficulties in wildly disparate fashion. I haven't come up with Rosemond's column on-line, but I did find a variation on it here. Basically, he can't believe how late Americans potty-train their kids these days -- a benefit only to diaper companies, he thinks. And he went out of his way to name Brazelton --whose smiling face seemed to look out at his column space right next door-- as a main culprit for this trend.

Then there's this WaPo Sunday Magazine profile of two Bulgarian girls working in Ocean City, MD for the summer. The last time I was in Ocean City --about 2 years ago-- we didn't encounter a single service person of any kind who didn't have a Slavic accent of some variety. This summer the trend had spread south to the Outer Banks of North Carolina, where all the store clerks were Polish. Here, the Post explains why, at the same time rendering one of those uncomfortable and yet salutary "see ourselves as others see us" stories. You may feel as I did that it's not fair of them to judge American cuisine and behavior by Ocean City, MD, but still. . . . Here's the part that caught my eye.
A vacationing couple walk past, pushing a 3- or 4-year-old child in a stroller. Is it normal, Nadia asks, for American parents to push children who are clearly old enough to walk? She says that, in Bulgaria, as soon as a kid can walk, the stroller goes. This child, she predicts, will grow up to be lazy. And maybe fat, too.

That observation made me think of Rosemond's column and I realized he was wrong about something. Or anyway partly wrong. There are certainly enough fruity ideas about discipline around. But I think for the most part late potty-training and long stroller-pushing is not a matter of over-indulgence of children. We do these things to make our own lives easier. A 3-yr-old can't keep up with his parents' desired pace, so it's easier to push him and do what we want to do. Similarly, kids may be able to train early, but then Mom has to stay home to get that done --or maybe deal with embarrassing messes while she's out. Early toilet-training means stopping your errands and outings to find public facilities in improbable places and inconvenient times. American parents are getting things done-- something you welfare-bloated-2-months of government-mandated-paid-vacation-getting Europeans don't know much about. (Not that I am smarting about this rebuke, mind you). Defensiveness notwithstanding, however, it's worth thinking about when parental ease and the drive to get things done begins to harm the formation of a maturing young child.