NEW YORK - Dr. Leonard Sax has been a family physician and psychologist for 27 years, conducting workshops around the world for parents, teachers, social workers, counselors, school psychologists and juvenile justice professionals.
He’s also a dad, and it’s from all those perspectives that he took on his fourth book, an alarm bell of sorts titled, “The Collapse of Parenting,” out recently from Basic Books.
Sax, who lives in Exton, Pennsylvania, argues that American families are facing a crisis of authority, where the kids are in charge, out of shape emotionally and physically, and suffering because of it. He calls for a reordering of family life in response.
A conversation with Dr. Leonard Sax:
The Associated Press: What exactly do you mean by a collapse of parenting?
Sax: I wrote about an office visit with a 10-year-old boy who is sitting and playing a game on his mobile phone, ignoring me and his mom as I’m talking with his mom about his stomachache. And his mom is describing his stomachache and the boy says, ‘Shut up, mom, you don’t know what you’re talking about.’ And he laughs.
That would have been very unusual in 1990 or 2000. It is now common: children, girls and boys, being disrespectful to parents, being disrespectful to one another, being disrespectful to themselves, verbally and otherwise. The mother did nothing, just looked a little embarrassed. The culture has changed in a profound way in a short period of time in ways that have really harmed kids.