It is my view that past and current attempts to create or define a gentler method of bringing up our children are failing us in a myriad of ways, and that is because these ideas are only half measures, providing no real change at all. There is talk about the damages of hitting and otherwise hurting children and a strong suggestion that we don’t, but little else. This talk provides only ways to ask children for what we want and is followed by a shy silence regarding what parents are to do if the child doesn’t comply. I don’t see that parental expectations are defined, let alone modified, and I don’t see an acknowledgement that if expectations are not changed, that ultimately, methods cannot change. The subject of parental expectations is often avoided, and for what is a compelling reason: parental expectations are brutal and unconscious. With no talk of different goals, the “new” methods are offered to bring the same results, if perhaps, in an unspoken way, and of course, they fail. To my mind, the only resulting change then is that people only talk about a gentler sort of parenting, and our society in this respect is made the more schizoid, the gap between the world we talk about having and the world we actually live in is only made wider.
This gap, this gulf between what we are allowed to do to our children and what actually goes on in our homes, this is the effect of parents being placed in a terrible bind, a bind that results from a poorly thought out strategy, and the solution, I feel is to think it out in a far more thorough fashion. That is the aim of this project, and this chapter is central to the conversation that I am hoping to start with this book.