Psychologist and renowned speaker Dr Jordan Peterson has some home truths for parents. Parenting is certainly challenging, but it is a tremendous privilege and responsibility that should not be subsumed by competing priorities.

Bette Davis said, “If you have never been hated by your children, you haven’t been a parent.” She is correct; being a parent is tough. Being a dad is even harder, because the buck stops with Dad!

My Mum used to say to me when I was naughty, “Wait until your father gets home.” I’m sure untold millions of mothers around the world would say that every day.

You see, the key responsibility to come up with the answers in the tough times falls back to the father. That’s why, as fathers, we need to get the best advice from the best fathering experts in the world. I googled ‘fathering experts’, but struggled to find a comprehensive list.

However, when I googled ‘parenting experts’, I found a list of the top 35. Only 3 out of 35 were men. We desperately need more parenting experts who are men, who can relate to men, and tell it to us straight, to give fathers the expert advice they need.

Top-Notch Advice

The good news is that we have Dr Jordan Peterson. This outspoken psychologist and university professor is a one-man army for common sense and values-based parenting. My wife and I recently had the privilege of hearing Dr Jordan Peterson speak at the Adelaide Entertainment Centre in his recent Australia Tour 2022. He even spoke at Parliament House in Canberra.

I am a big fan of Dr Jordan Peterson, along with hundreds of millions around the world. From the point of view of influence and experience, I would say that he is the world’s greatest fathering and parenting expert. Watch the video interview below and make up your own mind.

Babies, the Joy of Children, Family Mealtimes & Teaching Your Children Responsibility

(Transcript of the first 5 minutes of the above Jordan Peterson video)

One thing you want to think about with children, especially young children (this is really important), you’ve got to get this right when you have a baby. You can’t believe it and you can’t believe that you’re going to be able to figure out what to do with this thing, this baby. It’s the most complicated thing you’ve ever had, and no one has helped you figure out how to do it.

So, you’re stuck and then three months later, you can’t really imagine what life would be like without that baby. And this goes on forever! That’s how it feels, but it doesn’t go on forever. You have little kids for four years and if you miss it, it’s done, that’s it!

You’ve got to know that there are lots of things in life you don’t get to do more than once. Now obviously, you can have more than one child, but all I’m saying is that period between age zero and four, zero and five, there’s something about it that’s really like a peak experience in life and it’s much of your life.

You think of it as a long time. It’s not that long man, four years goes by so fast you can’t believe it and if you miss it, it’s gone. You miss it at your peril, and you don’t get it back. I know that with your career you miss opportunities, you fall behind. This happens to women a lot. It’s part of the reason for the pay gap and it’s really hard on women you know, although no one knows what to do about it.

You should talk to each other, try to minimise your financial requirements to the degree that you can see if there are other ways you can generate income and come to a consensual solution. Try not to torture yourself with guilt with whatever you come up with, but do remember you’ve got financial responsibilities and often you do need two incomes.

There’s no easy way of dealing with it and for women, it often seems that no matter what they do, it’s wrong. They stay home with the kids, it’s wrong. If they go to work, it’s wrong. If they do both, it’s wrong and I’m not being smart about that, it’s rough man. Having said all that, I would say again, you’ve got little kids for four years. Don’t miss it, you will regret it.

The Importance of Family Mealtime

Human beings are social eaters. It’s a species characteristic that’s really weird. Social eating is really weird. Animals don’t share food.  Mother birds will feed their chicks but animals, as a rule, don’t share food. If you’re in a wolf pack and you bring down a moose, the most dominant wolves eat their fill and then the less dominant wolves get to go in there and pick up the scraps.

Human beings aren’t like that. People who are alone don’t eat well generally speaking. They’re not even hungry. We have this unbelievably deep need to eat communally. It’s a huge part of socialisation because the regulation of eating is, (the only thing that could compare would be the regulation of anger and the regulation of sex), fundamental to culture.

Sit like a civilised human being. Share the food properly. Be good company. Pay attention. Learn to converse. Be grateful for what you have to eat. Those are basic. They’re not even rules, they’re deeper than rules. They’re patterns of behaviour and you need that.

Not having that shared meal is a real catastrophe.  I think a third of British families now don’t even have a dining room table. It’s really not good. ‘My mother does everything for me.’ That’s not so good, because that means you can’t do anything for yourself.

Teach Your Children Responsibility

There’s a rule for working with old people in old age homes. That rule is, don’t do anything for the residents that they can do themselves. You think, well that’s pretty harsh, but no it isn’t. You’re helping them retain their independence and their strength. You’re not stealing their strength.

It’s the same with little kids. Little kids should be doing whatever they can that’s productive and useful as young as they can. If you have a two-year-old who’s just toddling around, you can get that two-year-old to set the table. We used to have our kids do that. It’s really funny to watch because the table’s a foot and half above their heads.

You give the two-year-old a knife, not a sharp one, and you say, “Go put this on the table”. Now they can’t exactly put it beside the plate because they can’t see the damn plate, but they’re more than happy to comply because it helps them develop and move forward. (Actually, if you’re careful with them and you adjust your expectations to their level of developing expertise, that’s called the ‘zone of proximal development’). Children have a really powerful instinct for that and with kids, if you watch them very carefully, you can see when they’re ready for the next task.

Lovework

Please watch the above video with your wife/partner. Check out here what he says to fathers.

Dr Peterson’s interview here with John Anderson, I still regard as one of his best.

Happy parenting!

Yours for our children,
Warwick Marsh

PS: Some more wisdom from Dr Jordan Peterson: “The better ambitions have to do with the development of character and ability, rather than status and power. Status you can lose. You carry character with you wherever you go, and it allows you to prevail against adversity.”

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Photo: Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia Commons

About the Author: Warwick Marsh

Warwick Marsh has been married to Alison Marsh since 1975; they have five children and nine grandchildren, and he and his wife live in Wollongong in NSW, Australia. He is a family and faith advocate, social reformer, musician, TV producer, writer and public speaker. Warwick is a leader in the Men’s and Family Movement, and he is well-known in Australia for his advocacy for children, marriage, manhood, family, fatherhood and faith. Warwick is passionate to encourage men to be great fathers and to know the greatest Father of all. The Father in Whom “there is no shadow of turning.”

2 Comments

  1. Kaylene Emery December 11, 2022 at 9:37 am - Reply

    Thank you Warwick. The video clip you included is one of JP’s best and they are all great!
    We are so blessed to have him especially during our current times.

  2. Warwick Marsh December 12, 2022 at 11:40 am - Reply

    Yes Kaylene you are 100% correct. Jordan Peterson is a one man army for common sense parenting!

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