Home News Local news Self-Proclaimed 'Bad Boy of Psychology' to Offer Parenting Workshops

Self-Proclaimed 'Bad Boy of Psychology' to Offer Parenting Workshops

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Jan. 30, 2007 — Search the Internet for "John Rosemond" and you'll find plenty of adjectives about the author of many parenting books, some of them along the lines of "conservative," "right-wing" and "evangelical."
"I have gained some degree of notoriety, or whatever you want to call it," says Rosemond, 59, who will offer a series of workshops on St. Thomas this weekend. "I can't resist the urge to spout off about issues from time to time. To some people I have a mean-spirited, right-wing, narrow-minded kind of aura."
A staunch advocate of what he calls "traditional parenting" with a heavy emphasis on discipline, Rosemond speaks often about a need for America and its parents to return to the values he believes went off track in the late 1960s and early '70s. In the early '90s, he wrote a "Bill of Rights for Children" in response to the United Nations' Convention on the Rights of the Child, which President Bill Clinton unsuccessfully submitted to the U.S. Senate for ratification.
The Rosemond version includes such homilies as, "Because it is the most character-building, two-letter word in the English language, children have the right to hear their parents say 'No' at least three times a day," and "Children have the right to find out early that their parents care deeply for them but don't give a hoot what their children think about them at any given moment in time."
"I'm saying what I want to say in a humorous fashion," says Rosemond, who will make presentations Friday and Saturday at the V.I. Montessori School. "I think people see that. I've never heard anyone say that they were offended by it. I've gotten more positive comments on that than anything else I've ever written. The funny thing is it took me about 30 minutes to come up with."
In addition to books like To Spank or Not To Spank, Ending the Homework Hassle and A Family of Value, Rosemond also writes a syndicated parenting column that appears in approximately 250 newspapers around the country. A South Carolina native who spent most of his childhood in Illinois, Rosemond keeps his certification current. But in 1990 he left a family-psychology practice in his adopted home of Gastonia, N.C.
"I keep my license, but not to use it," Rosemond says. "(It's) so I can continue to call myself a psychologist. It gives me some credibility that I wouldn't otherwise have."
In the late '60s, Rosemond says, he was a typical young person of the era, aimless and drifting. In Illinois he played in a rock band called Herkemer Bog, which he says had a large regional following and opened some concerts for REO Speedwagon. In college at Western Illinois University, a professor convinced him to try his hand at psychology.
"I needed to stay in school so I wouldn't be drafted, and the classes suited my schedule," Rosemond says. "He was an excellent instructor. One day he said, 'What are you doing?' I said, 'Nothin'.' He said, 'No, I mean what are you doing with your life?' I said, 'Nothin'.' He took me under his wing, and that was that."
Rosemond earned his master's degree in psychology in 1971 and got elected to the Phi Kappa Phi National Honor Society. In 1999, Western Illinois awarded Rosemond its distinguished alumni award, given only once per year. He gave the commencement address to that year's graduating class.
After initially embracing new approaches to child psychology, Rosemond says he found himself confronted with the limits of child-centered parenting that emphasized self-esteem over discipline.
"Everybody was enamored of this new progressive point of view," he says. "It wasn't until I began having children of my own that I realized that this new point of view — it certainly did sound good. It reflected a well-intentioned idealism, but it didn't work."
One day a third-grade teacher called Rosemond and his wife in for a conference regarding their son's behavior.
"The teacher told us he was the worst-behaved child she had seen in 20 years of teaching," Rosemond says. "I could tell he was a kid who didn't want to misbehave, but he was just out of control. It wasn't that he was a bad kid, we just weren't disciplining him properly. He had no self-control because we didn't impose controls. His teacher raised the red flag and flapped it quite strenuously in our faces."
It worked, Rosemond says: Strict discipline turned his son around.
"Three months later the teacher said he was the best-behaved child in the class," he says.
Rosemond's religious beliefs have also shaped his attitudes toward parenting.
"I'm an evangelical Christian," he says. "To me it's just my walk in life, it is what it is. In fact, my next book is called Parenting by the Book — the book being the Bible. I'm trying to do what I can to clarify God's instructions into advice on raising children."
But Rosemond says he tailors his presentations to different audiences: "The only time I really talk from a Christian perspective is when I'm given permission to do so from my sponsors."
While many of his family-psychology colleagues still consider him a "heretic," Rosemond says, he believes the tide has started to turn back to more old-fashioned parenting methods.
"To a great degree I still am this bad boy of psychology," he says. "For a long while I was the bad boy of psychology in Gastonia. Now I'm the bad boy of psychology in the U.S.A."
For a brief period a year ago, Rosemond found himself cast as a bad boy for a different reason. The home newspaper for his column, the Charlotte Observer, discovered that Rosemond had resubmitted old columns on occasion and altered questions from readers, raising ethical questions.
In his defense, Rosemond says the issues stemmed from misunderstandings and outdated editorial policies. He says he began recycling old columns occasionally with permission from an editor in the early '90s, and that in years past he had been told to change readers' letters to protect privacy. While he says he takes full responsibility for his actions, the problem stemmed from communication problems between his editors and him, Rosemond says.
The trip to the Virgin Islands this weekend will be a first, Rosemond says, though not his first trip to the Caribbean.
"My wife and I own a very small, 750-square-foot seaside cabin in a very remote island in the Bahamas," he says.
On Friday Rosemond will present a teacher workshop from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the V.I. Montessori School called "Working with Parents of Problem Students." According to a news release from the school, "It will be a teaching in-service for teachers, counselors, school psychologists and other education professionals."
"You can't separate parenting issues from educational issues," Rosemond says. "First you have to talk about what's happening with parenting in the Western world. America is exporting jobs, and parenting practices. Japan's child rearing has been ruined now by the importation of the American ideas and American methods."
On Saturday, Rosemond will offer workshops for parents from 9 a.m. to noon called "Assuming the Power of Parenthood" and "Parenting the Strong-Willed Child."
"My talk with parents will primarily focus on the leadership aspects of parenting, primarily the issue of disciplin
e," Rosemond says. "I try to help people acquire a new, more functional point of view."
Seating is limited. Tickets are $45 for the teacher workshop and $25 total for the two parenting workshops. Advance tickets may be purchased at the school. Tickets may also be purchased by calling (340) 775-6360 and charging them to a credit card (MasterCard, Visa, Discover and American Express), according to the news release. Walk-ins will be welcomed as long as seating is available, the release said.
For more information, call the V.I. Montessori School at (340) 775-6360.
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