While many 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 psychological trauma to the child 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 you're asking?
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 scream, 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 reason for children?
Eberhard: No one decides. Parents are very uncomfortable 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 of only 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: we are fine, this is 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 with him in discussions. 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 somehow 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 budgerigar chirps, the children are still in school and kindergarten. David pulls 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?
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 to raise your own children in a strict and authoritarian manner in the midst of a liberal Swedish society?
Eberhard: I can't be too different from other parents, otherwise my children will get in trouble. Yes, and militant authoritarianism would not allow me.
Zeit: So you should keep yourself in hand?
Eberhard: Oh well, okay (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: I completely disagree with him on this issue. 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 have grown up in a society where such strokes are taken as the norm, it is not so [mentally] traumatic for them. But parents in the West are afraid of everything now, believing that even the slightest criticism can injure a child. They no longer consider it necessary to say to the 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 with the fears of parents. Although today there are hardly any serious dangers for young families, more and more new fears arise. 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 the fear of harming a child by upbringing and austerity come from?
Eberhard: I have the impression that parents owe this 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 loosely. 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. Nobody wants to listen to their own parents, and relying only on intuition seems overly frivolous. Jesper Juul says very simple things. Others are reasonable, the rest are not very. 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'm not the same, why should I pretend? Parents must select each word accurately 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 educators, although he does not say that parents cannot 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: Yes, and the Swedes are still madly in love in the history of Astrid Lindgren and all these idyllic paintings. But think about how the children grew up in these books. They wander all day long, back and forth, without supervision, without helmets and sun hats. Michel tied his little sister Ida at the top of the flagpole. A Lotta from the street Krakhmakher skated with her siblings on the roof of a Volkswagen- “beetle”. Now it all became completely unthinkable. Today, parents and the juvenile affairs agency (Jugendamt) mutually hold 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 act in a contradictory way, it doesn’t make any sense at all that spurs a child, promotes development, and what goes on to be 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” - this is Eberhard's frequent expert opinion in practical work. Parents were looking for medical answers to their helplessness. And the diagnosis of 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, annoyed, 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 half the night. 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 equitably as possible, as much as possible, as much as 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 early nails. 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 younger son should dry up in the evening. He interrupts the interview to settle the 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”: “Hyun”, a personal pronoun of the middle gender, became official in the Swedish lexicon. Thus, should avoid talking about the child "he" or "she."
Eberhard: This is child abuse, 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 no longer cope with school affairs on their own, because they are no longer treated like boys.
Zeit: Is that why Swedish schools have fallen so much in comparison with the international level?
Eberhard: Not only for this reason. The problem is in our teachers. Their authority is negligible. 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 leading in absenteeism, teacher abuse 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 “navel of the earth” children later become adults, 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, recovering from amazement, asks: what have you, no one ever said that you do not know how to sing?
Zeit: His parents were too cowardly?
Eberhard: They did not want to hurt the poor child. So grow bold lousy go to 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 the case, our children would love us more than anyone else anywhere in the world. But it is not. As soon as we grow old and decrepit, they take us to a nursing home. In other countries, families live together, because parents and in old age are still valued.