Maglio: Parental absence results in dysfunctional families

Parents usually want the best for their children. Today there are more choices than ever about raising a child. Almost everyone who has raised a child is a know-it-all expert. People who have even limited exposure write books believing they are going to revolutionize child rearing after centuries of child rearing tradition.

President Obama in a Nov. 3 speech said, “we don’t want women to stay home.” He was advocating mothers be absent from the family. His reasoning was a stay-at-home mother would never have the earning power that a career woman would. This cradle to grave approach of government involvement in our lives is marginalizing the role of family in modern society and is weakening our entire nation. There are government infant and toddler programs that are urging women to enter or stay in the workforce.

Most children spend more time with the daycare workers than they will with their own parents. Both parents and children will lose their invaluable interaction that creates a love bond between them. Too many youngsters no longer radiate the natural love of adoring parents.

The separation between a child and parent makes effective parenting very difficult.

Many working parents are at a disadvantage of learning their child’s idiosyncratic behavior. These parents receive second-hand reports from the caretaker rather than drawing their own conclusions from the child’s interaction with others. Modern parents have to rely on others to gain a perception of their own child.

Instead of employing a common sense, problem solving of inappropriate behavior and inattentiveness, modern parents currently are directed to a professional. Often an alarmed teacher will suggest an expert evaluate the child’s behavior. A speech therapist, a mental health professional or a medical doctor are the experts recommended.

Modern parents have a reason to be confused, which motivates them to bring the child to the office of an expert. Parents’ unfamiliarity with their own children’s behavior and lack of an extended family giving advice leaves many parents at the mercy of these unknown professionals.

These professionals can give remedial recommendations to correct the problem, explaining it is “normal behavior.” Too often the professionals, instead of employing a long-term therapeutic approach, unethically offer a mental health diagnosis, which does not meet all the criteria. They provide a quick medical (drug) solution that only masks the underlying issues and diagnose the child with a mental disorder relegating him to a life long stigma.

In our nonjudgmental culture family friends would remain silent or approve of, not question the parent’s decisions. This formal “expert” process is usually a relief to the parent as it gives them clear scientific “certitude” that the problem lies with the child not with their parenting. In many cases the parent wears their child’s diagnosis as a badge of courage for having endured the antics and hassles of dealing with a “defective” child.

These child development experts have permeated the thoughts and beliefs of almost all parents, including those at home full time. Modern parents have been indoctrinated not to use time-tested methods such as the “cold shoulder,” moderate spanking on toddlers and preschoolers and strong consistent consequences to regain control of their child’s actions. It is easier and less stressful to put faith in the hands of the state licensed professionals than to examine and change the interaction with their own offspring.

The child becomes the victim of the parent’s ignorance of the child’s “game playing,” the power of their role and their unwillingness to be take-charge parents. The child’s reaction to the consequences of the caregiver is teaching the caregiver, not the parents, the best way to manage the child. Absentee parents do not have the opportunity to learn these lessons. These missed experiences leave today’s parents in an inferior power position as compared to parents of the past.

The lack of awareness and knowledge of their children’s behavior makes it almost impossible to remediate the child’s dysfunctional behavior. Instead the child receives, and will suffer from, the mental health label that will identify him for the rest of his life. This phenomenon is becoming more prevalent reaching epidemic proportions.

Not only does the label influence the thinking and behavior of others but it gives the child a built in set of excuses that fortifies his sense of believing he is defective. Negative self-talk about what a person can and should do, lowers his standards and expectations. This makes the dubious diagnosis a self-fulfilling prophecy.

The modern parent’s void in directly experiencing the child’s behavior results in a lifestyle of disorder for the entire family. The ultimate victim of this family dysfunction is the labeled child, although everyone in the family suffers.

Our central government continues the dismantling of the family and is paving the way for a more totalitarian nation. This central control of our lives is disabling our children, families and nation.

Domenick Maglio, PhD. is a columnist carried by various newspapers, an author of several books and owner/director of Wider Horizons School, a college prep program in Spring Hill. Visit him at or email him at

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