As I noted in my last post, we are going to look all over to place to understand what I want to convey. This relates to a rut many well intentioned otherwise good middle class parents fall into. There are “bad” parents. Those who neglect, abandon, and/or physically abuse.
What the Stern example illustrates this problem endemic to middle class parents. His were “good” parents, in a comparative sense (they always provided and didn’t do the “bad” things above mentioned).
But the way they dealt with him on an emotional level was unhealthy, suboptimal, and caused damage.
Scenario One: Young Howard pushed his father’s buttons which caused his father to flip out and humiliate him in public.
Truth: His father failed to properly react to the situation. Humiliating your children, especially in public, is wrong. That’s not to say it’s okay for them to misbehave. But the right way is to be patient, but firm. Getting angry at your children and taking it out on them is always wrong. It may be unavoidable. If my underaged son took my car out without permission and got a DUI and ended up in prison, I might, understandably, get angry and take it out on him. But I still fail to properly react to the circumstance.
And it is NO EXCUSE that everyone does it. If everyone does, it’s akin to original sin.
Howard claims: He doesn’t take his anger out on his kids. When he finds himself yelling at them like his father yelled at him, he leaves the room because he remembered what a jerk he felt like when his father did that to him. If he is being honest, he does the right thing and is a better father, at least in that respect.
Personal example: I remember in law school, one of my classmates — she seemed like a perfectly nice lady — middle aged (if I remember properly she had a PhD) regularly brought her kids — her three little girls — to school. They had to wait outside when mommy was in class. She used emotional pressure, guilt, and humiliation to “keep them in line.” I remember a number of occasions where she got frustrated with them, screamed at her little girls, took her furious anger out on them, seemingly completely unaware of the incident it caused.
I thought in my head, “man I wouldn’t be surprised if those girls grow up to hate her.”