Current Issue

I grew up in the “you’re making a mountain of a molehill” era, also known as the age of “children are starving in (fill in the blank with some remote place).” And I’m a better person for it!

First, some historical context: I am a baby boomer—a child of the fifties. I remember the first time I heard Elvis. I was in a diner with my mother, and “Don’t Be Cruel,” one of the 10 greatest rock songs of all time, came on the jukebox. Mom couldn’t stand him. I was hooked before the hook.

As was the case back then, I was not “parented.” I was brought up, raised, reared, or something along those lines. This new “parenting” thing is mostly about how children feel. My parents never talked with me about my feelings. I have yet to meet someone my age whose parents talked with them about their feelings. Believe me; it was a very uncomplicated way to grow up. There were right things, and there were wrong things, and adults didn’t give a hoot about your self-esteem. If you did the right thing, your parents left you alone. They weren’t inclined to be involved with you, and that was fine by all concerned. Boomers did chores and their own homework. We didn’t need adults to tell us when to play, what to play, or how to play. We settled our own quarrels, and we left home as soon as we could. Today’s kids have no idea what they’re missing.

I remember coming home crying one day when I was maybe 10 years old. I told my mother the other kids weren’t playing fair. They wouldn’t give me a turn! She told me they were horrible children, and she didn’t want me playing with horrible children. To prove her point, she kept me indoors, away from the horribles, for several days, during which time I begged and promised to endure unfairness forevermore. I had made a mountain out of a molehill, and besides, there were children in the world who had valid reasons to cry, and I wasn’t one of them. Mom finally let me back outside, and I never made that mountain again.

Today’s parents act like every feeling their kids have is a mountain and requires a conversation. And so, surprise of surprises, their kids have more and more feelings. I don’t think an American child has heard the thing about molehills—much less that there are children in the world who are too hungry to even cry—in 40 years. They have no perspective because they aren’t given one. They grow up thinking they’re entitled to be “traumatized” by anything and everything that doesn’t suit them to a T, which is the most destructive entitlement of all.

“You’re making a mountain out of a molehill” is the mother of emotional resilience, which is the essence of positive mental health. Contrary to what the professional psychobabblers have told parents, positive mental health is not about “getting in touch” with one’s feelings; it’s about not letting oneself be carried off into the wild blue yonder by them. Good mental health is not about expressing one’s feelings freely; it’s about controlling their expression.

People my age are so very grateful that we grew up before children had therapists, before adults of good intentions made mountains of kids’ molehills and kids couldn’t see the horizon for all the mountains in their lives.

Family psychologist John Rosemond:,

Living With Children: Emotional Resilience

by John Rosemond
From the October 2022 Signs