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What Charlie Sheen Can Teach Us About Parenting

By: Joe Newman

Charlie Sheen is the perfect icon for a culture that encourages, even idolizes, unconditional rather than transactional relationships. We laud those who become so powerful/wealthy that they don’t have to answer to anyone. We promote self-esteem as the primary virtue and value speaking your mind over responsibility to others. While most people see Charlie Sheen as having gone too far, he’s only taken our culture’s delusions to their logical conclusion.

Internet pornography is the ultimate unconditional relationship. Bill Maher recently made headlines when he said, “Now psychologists are telling us that for a sizable percentage of men in America, masturbating to porn is Plan A, and doing it with your wife or girlfriend is more like a fallback option for when the power goes out.”

So what do Charlie Sheen, our national porn addiction, and parenting have in common?

Raising children where the emphasis is placed on the many and elaborate ways in which the parents should recognize the child’s needs while sacrificing the assertion of their own needs creates children who are self-absorbed, narcissistic, and filled with feelings of their own omnipotence. This creates adults who understand the world as unconditional and not transactional and is the number one contributor to our growing national porn addiction.

Boys with mothers who don’t assert their own needs and desires grow up to become men who want women without needs and desires. And since empowering children through martyrdom parenting is so in vogue, they will be hard-pressed to find adult women who will suppress their own needs and focus primarily on them like dear old mom.

These boys are being groomed to seek the non-transactional, virtual sex lives found in Internet porn. Why bother with a real woman with wants and needs of her own when they can have all the selfless, unconditional, virtual women they want who’ll demand nothing of them, just like mom.

Alternately, these boys might become men with powerful feelings of their own omnipotence (think Adonis DNA and tiger’s blood) that propel them to successful, take-no-prisoners careers and money. In this case they can run through strings of women who each eventually become tiresome due to the assertion of desires, needs, aging, and real life. Perhaps becoming as successful as Charlie Sheen who exchanges his brides every few years in between having porn stars come to him.

As a culture we have gradually shifted our childrearing away from transactional to unconditional.  Transactional childrearing requires a give and take, respect, appreciation, and courtesy.  Entitlement is its nemesis.

Unconditional Parenting prepares children for an unconditional world. A world where friends don’t leave you no matter how abusive or obnoxious you’ve become, where everyone gets an “A” whether they made efforts or not, where employers won’t fire you when you refuse to show up, and where wives stay with husbands who continually beat them. The world is not unconditional (unless you’re Charlie Sheen?). The world is transactional. Love is transactional.

This worship of children –this idea that we should be kind and respectful to children even when they are rude and inconsiderate –is inane, and ironically, self-serving; self-serving because it is born of the narcissistic desire to see in our children our own unfulfilled perfection and to create for them a perfect world free from disillusionment. It is the popular conceit in a society where we strive to inflate our self-identity based on our selfless acts toward our children. But when adults make themselves selfless children are left all alone. How about giving our children a break and finding our self-identity without them? Children need real people with real needs, not parents who will service them unconditionally.

Tips for Transactional Parenting

Insist your children treat you with respect.  Set consequences that make their lives very difficult when they choose not to.

Require your children participate in the upkeep and maintenance of the home.  The things parents provide shouldn’t be taken for granted and your children will appreciate your efforts more when they are required to chip in regularly.  Making dinner, cleaning up, walking the dog, etc.

Assert your needs and desires.  Parents provide all of the resources for a family to function and should make the lion’s share of decisions.  When parents continually make decisions with the priorities placed on the children’s preferences, the children learn they are entitled to this everywhere.


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