There is something deeply wrong with so-called child-rearing expert and syndicated columnist John Rosemond. (Hence the title. It were a punne, or a play on words.) In his latest newspaper column, published on April 27 here in Charlotte, NC, Rosemond takes to task those fathers who commit the heinous sin of actually high-fiving their little dudes and dudettes.
No, seriously. He says that high-fiving the little dudes is a very bad, bad thing. Why, you whisper in shocked astonishment? Well, says he, because if you high five the little dudes, you’re forfeiting your right to leadership over the young ‘uns. Again, yes, seriously. That is what he said.
. . . although this common practice is well-intentioned, it diminishes a child’s ability to view his father as an authority figure. Children need two L-words from their parents: love and leadership.
The high-fiving dad is a loving guy who has substituted relationship for leadership, a proposition that does not work in any leadership setting.”
I do believe he’s seriously suggesting an either/or proposition here. Either you’re some remote, unapproachable leader of men (well, little dudes, but you get the idea) or you’re some kind of commie-symp wimp who wants to be all buddy-buddy with your progeny at the expense of showing them what a man really does.
Personally, I find this outrageous. This dude has some serious baggage in the brain if he really believes this is true. I’ve read Rosemond before and thought he’s had some good idea, but he’s really run off the rails here. I mean, take a look at this.
Providing encouragement, helping people reach higher, is characteristic of all good leaders. But effective leaders do so without crossing the line of relationship. In fact, encouragement is most effective coming from someone who is clearly your superior, not someone who is trying to be your buddy.
Whoa! Again, seriously? He really wants dads to hide up on a pedestal, deigning only to speak to the lowlies on special occasions? Wow!
A side note: As I was writing this post, I had the Rosemond article sitting beside my beloved MacBook Pro. I’d wandered off into the bathroom to brush my teeth (really) and was doing so when Zippy the Monkey Boy walked in. I turned to see what he wanted and he simply raised his hands for a high-five. I laughed, gave it to him and then asked if he’d read the article. Yep, he said. “What did you think about it?”
“I thought it was complete hokum,” said Zippy the Monkey Boy. “High-fiving is just another way of showing encouragement, sort of like shaking hands was for those old crusties.”
Then he melted my heart. “I think we’ve got a good relationship and I’ve got a good leader.” With that, he hitched up the shorts that were sliding off his butt and walked back out to make his lunch for school.
So, that’s one (extremely intelligent) little dude’s opinion. Let’s look at this a bit more.
I think Zippy the Monkey Boy is right. High-fiving has moved into the realm of everyday gestures in habited by the thumbs up, the handshake and the OK sign. It’s just something people do.
Rosemond’s problem with this, I think, comes from the fact that he’s from an older generation, one that had never heard of the high five until they were very set in their ways. He also seems to have a definition of leadership that excludes leadership by example. It seems to me that his vision of a family leader is one who is unimpeachably right, stern while giving orders and more than a bit remote from those whom he is leading.
Whereas I see leadership in the family as consisting of setting a good example in ways both fun and somber, providing the right verbal and physical encouragement, and being there to support and guide the little dude or dudette when he or she runs into problems.
The one thing we agree on here is that all dads should show and give their love to the little dudes. That’s something I think we can all agree on.
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