It is clear that traditional, authoritarian parenting in which the outward expression of love and acceptance of a child depends on his ability to perform actions deemed desirable by the parents, even going so far as to rush and force his emotional development (something most parents would consider ridiculous with respect to a child's physical development!), inflicting physical and emotional pain on him for his failures and foibles, causes children to despise their littleness, dependence and vulnerability--the exact opposite of the spirituality of Thérèse, who is called by the Church "The Greatest Saint of Modern Times."
Attachment Parenting, on the other hand, provides us with proven successful means for preserving in our children a love for their littleness and their vulnerability by respectfully fostering their dependence on us until they are mature enough to depend on themselves and ultimately God, and demonstrating to them, in ways which they are able to understand, our love and acceptance of them exactly as they are right here in this moment--weak, ignorant, vulnerable, little.
It is precisely this lack of unconditional love and acceptance between husband and wife (for better or for worse, in sickness and in health, for richer or for poorer) which is the cause of the failure of so many marriages. How much more devastating is this kind of selfish love for a child!
We have all heard the saying, "Idleness is the root of all evil." Well, did you know that St. Thomas defines idleness, or acedia as "the despair of weakness," of which Kierkegaard said, that it consists in someone "despairingly" not wanting "to be oneself."
Given the present and dismal state of affairs of the world, particularly amongst our youth, and the predominance of authoritarian parenting (permissive parenting, though less common, has the same effect only in a more subtle way) I would have to say that it is misguided, or "conditional" parenting which is the root of all evil.
And the remedy, from Billy Dean and St. Thérèse, is that we "Let Them Be Little" and love their littleness so that they can too.
Ways In Which We Teach Children To Despise Their Littleness
Rushing or coercing them to:
- emerge from the womb
- sleep through the night
- sleep alone (in the dark)
- wean from the breast
- potty train
- hold back their tears
- overcome their fears
- talk (say "please" and "thank you")
- sit still
- be quiet
- show respect
- clean up after themselves
- dress themselves
- feed themselves
- eat food that is distasteful to them
- excel at academics, sports, music, art, etc.
Punishing them for:
...to live up to any of the above mentioned parental expectations.
(Please add to these lists in your comments.)
To teach our children how to "be in the world and not of it," we must create in our homes an environment in which the worldly law of penalties and incentives, violence and power, cruelty and luxury, is foreign and unwelcome; in which the Beatific Vision is glimpsed in the face of the child and reflected back to him for his adoration.