It’s just about the easiest rationalization in the world: My parents did it to me and I turned out fine. My dad used to [smack me][yell at me][never come to my baseball games][never told me ‘good job’][never said he loved me] and I survived. It’s what I learned. That’s just how I was raised.
Until 1968, cars didn’t need to have seat belts in them.
Until 1992, the prevailing advice was that infants should sleep on their stomachs, not their backs.
Moms used to be forced to give their newborns water at birth for ‘hydration’…an idea we now consider to be insane.
People used to send their young children to distant and brutal boarding schools for their own good. (The pioneer of attachment theory, Dr. John Bowlby, was sent to one himself, and later wrote, “I wouldn’t send a dog away to boarding school at age seven.”)
Many people still claim that misbehaving children need a good spanking, even when research shows that not only does spanking not curb bad behavior, but it also can cause mental health problems in kids.
Indeed, it is amazing that any of us survived and that we’re not all broken or sociopaths. These horrible (or, at best, ignorant) practices didn’t “build character”—they hurt and damaged generations of our innocent children. Whether we know it or not, we carry this baggage with us today.
A father should not content himself with merely being the same as his own father was. No, every generation owes it to themselves, and to their children, to improve, to learn from the past and to not continue the cycle of error or suffering. We have to do better. We cannot make excuses (and we can’t let our parents—our children’s grandparents—continue with their own ignorance either).
Our job isn’t to do things the way things have always been done. That’s an attitude that’s bad for business, for government, and for raising kids. Our job is to do things the best way we can with the best information we have. And that almost certainly means doing it differently than it was when you were a kid.