Some people live according to internal moral codes (even if these come from external religious beliefs) - they tell the truth, live within their means, confess their misdeeds, pay their taxes, take responsibility for their actions, succeed due to their own efforts, don't become substance abusers - and they teach their children to do the same. If so, they aren't preparing their offspring for the world we live in. Intentionally creating maladjusted children is the definition of child abuse.

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The Stanton Peele Addiction Website, February 18, 2009. This blog post also appeared on Stanton's Addiction in Society blog at PsychologyToday.com.

Is Teaching Your Kid to "Do the Right Thing" Child Abuse?

Some people live by internal moral codes (even if these come from external religious beliefs) - they tell the truth, live within their means, pay their taxes, confess to misdeeds, succeed due to their own efforts, don't become substance abusers - and they teach their children to do the same. If so, they aren't preparing their offspring for the world we live in. Intentionally creating maladjusted children is the definition of child abuse.

Although it turned out that Roland Burris hadn't told the truth about his contacts with Rod Blagojevich's advisors, and then that he lied when he said that he had never tried to raise money for Blagojevich, he consistently claims he has done nothing wrong. And he seems to have the right approach to life (I assume he has been doing such things his whole career) - he was elected Illinois' Attorney General, the highest legal office in his state, and is now one of 100 United States Senators.

And although Timothy Geithner revealed he avoided paying tens of thousands of dollars in taxes by not reporting his overseas income, he was nonetheless appointed as Secretary of the Treasury, a job for which the Senate voted overwhelmingly to approve him. Colleague Tom Daschle was not so lucky after he didn't pay over $100,000 in taxes, and he withdrew his name for the post of Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (which oversees the National Institute of Mental Health).

One problem Daschle had was that his entrepreneur business associate provided him with a car and driver. Although Daschle didn't get to join the Obama cabinet, he still got to keep the many millions he made advising this associate about, and lobbying on his behalf with, all of the government officials he knew from his stint as a U.S. Senator. His wife is an even higher-profile lobbyist. President Obama said he wouldn't hire lobbyists in his administration. This has proved impossible, however, because everyone in a position to peddle influence in Washington does so, as do their children and spouses, many of whom likewise become lobbyists.

If you are in the media, your children get to inherit those jobs too. My favorites are addict offspring of famous people, who write best-sellers and then - in the case of William Cope Moyers, son of media giant Bill Moyers - parley their addiction into a lucrative job. The younger Moyers is Executive Director of Public Advocacy, the PR arm for Hazelden, the most prominent private treatment facility in the United States. If you're not famous and your child doesn't become addicted, they can kiss goodbye any chance of getting a groovy position like that.  (Am I revealing my benighted bigotry by implying that "being an alcoholic is somehow their fault," for which fellow blogger Phil Newton would castigate me.)

Wealthy entertainment and sports stars who do something very bad - like take illicit sunstances to boost their performance (Alex Rodriguez) or beat up their girlfriend (Chris Brown) find that they are forced to fess up - after a fashion. For Brown, this meant denying reports of the abuse, and then apologizing for "what transpired," as though it were a heavenly event. Rodriguez, the highest-paid star in baseball, reported he ddn't know the stuff he was shooting in his butt for three years, ages 25-27, was steroids: "My mistake was because I was immature and I was stupid."

If you disregarded the idea that you need to work for what you make and pay for what you buy, and for example got a nice house you couldn't really afford, the government has a plan to make sure you get to stay there - and the rest of us will pay for it! What a brilliant move you made! The idea that people should suffer for moral or financial failures has gone by the boards. Cheating, lying, and living beyond your means are now the best ways to get ahead.

Will your children function successfully in this environment? Are you punishing them for lying or reprimanding them for welching on debts? Are you misleading them by telling them that hard work is the best way to get ahead? You might even believe a PT blogger who suggests you make your children earn their own money and live within their means! What's the matter with you? You're setting your children up to fail and spend their lives envying other people's success. You better find a support group and change your ways, or you may get reported to family services for abusing your child (like the Jersey couple that named their kid Adolph Hitler).