Parents who want to raise happy, successful children need to prioritise their marriages not their children, according to a bestselling American book soon to be released in the UK.
The book, To Raise Happy Kids Put Your Marriage First, tells parents that “the greatest gift you can give your children is to have a fulfilling marriage yourself.”
The book’s author David Code, a family therapist, says: “Today’s number one myth about parenting is that the more attention we give our kids, the better they’ll turn out.
“But we parents have gone too far: our over-focus on our children is doing them more harm than good”.
Mr Code warns that parents who focus on their children, to the detriment of their marriage, will simply end up with more “demanding and dissatisfied” children.
He says: “We parents convince ourselves that putting our children first is child-friendly, but we make two main mistakes by doing so.
“First, it becomes harder to respect and enforce the boundaries that shape a child’s character, so he simply badgers his parents until he gets his way.”
He adds: “Second, we put tremendous pressure on our children to fulfil our emotional needs, which may lead to the child acting out.”
Mr Code’s concerns are shared by Frank Furedi a sociologist at the University of Kent, and the author of Paranoid Parenting.
Mr Furedi said: “Children’s security and their sense of wellbeing is inseparable from how they view the two people that they have the most amount of confidence and trust in – their father and mother – and if that relationship seems harmonious and happy it can act as a source of inspiration and security for that child.”
Last November a major study concluded that children who receive ‘tough love’, a combination of warmth and discipline, from their parents have the best chance of doing well in life.
The study found that parenting style, not economic background, is the most important factor determining a child’s development of positive qualities such as self-control, empathy and determination.
And top psychologist Dr Aric Sigman has said that parents who fail to exert authority have bred a “spoilt generation” of children who believe adults must earn their respect.
Dr Aric Sigman’s book The Spoilt Generation, published last October, shows that many social problems, including teenage pregnancy and anti-social behaviour, are due to a lack of discipline.