Our Culture's Oversight For decades psychologists have focused on mental illness and its cure. But the pervasiveness of psychological disorders is so extensive that there simply are not enough professional people to handle the afflicted. One study of 175,000 people in New York City showed that only 18.5 percent were free of the symptoms of mental illness. The number who limp through life in inner turmoil and whose potentials are mired in unbealthy defenses is of epidemic proportions. Neurotic hangups have become a way of life. This is a staggering indictment of an unfortunate oversight in our culture: we parents are not trained for our job. Vast sums are spent to teach academic and vocational skills, but the art of becoming a nurturing parent is left to chance and a few scattered classes. And yet, paradoxically, we regard children as our most important national resource! We turn freely to the medical and educational professions to check on our children's physical and intellectual progress. But for guidance on nurturing children to emotional health, we are left largely on our own. Even when symptoms appear, many parents regard consulting a psychologist as an admission of defeat. It is a last ditch resort. The discrepancy between our valuing children on the one hand and our failure to give parents specific training for their job on the other hand seems to be based on the assumption that if you are a human being you should know how to raise one. But, becoming a parent doesnotautomatically confer upon any of us the knowledge and skills to raise youngsters who are confident and steady and able to live as fully-functioning persons who lead meaningful lives. In short, preventing mental illness has not been given its proper emphasis. Yet, prevention remains our best hope for alleviating the high incidence of emotional disorder. Most of us do our best, but much of the time we simply fly by the seat of our pants. The fact remains, however, that we, as well as our children, have to live with the results of ourunintentionalmistakes. And these mistakes have a way of being passed on to future generations. The impact of our culture's oversight is to some degree felt by all of us. In our search for guidelines we parents have turned to the many books available on child-rearing. But here we find the important issues facing us treated on the whole as separate, isolated topics. We have not been given a cohesive, basic framework--the child's self-esteem--into which we may place each important facet of living with children. This book gives just such a framework. Here is a new way of looking at child development: seeing all growth and behavior against the backdrop of the child's search for identity and self-respect. Step by step, you will be shown specifically how to build a solid sense of self-worth in your child. Then, your youngster is slated for personal happiness in all areas of his life. Unless you fully understand the nature of the human fabric and work with it, you travel blindly and may pay the price. This book has been written because of my firm conviction, born of twenty-five years' work in psychology and education as well as from my experiences as a mother, that parenthood is too important for the "by-guess-and-by-golly" approach. Awareness of the facts can help you discharge your responsibilities toward those entrusted to your care, give you confidence as a parent, and point the way to your own personal development. Over the years, parents in my classes have reported exciting changes in themselves and their children as they began to apply some of the ideas in this book. They have made statements such as the following about their experiences: "This way of seeing children's growth has given me new confidence. I find I am a freer person, not so afraid of the responsibility of parenthood." "Our whole family has become mBriggs, Dorothy C. is the author of 'Your Child's Self-Esteem', published 1975 under ISBN 9780385040204 and ISBN 0385040202.