After looking a Jewish Mothers, models of motherhood, here I look at the opposite, poor parenting practices associated with children who end up delinquents and inmates. Be advised that some children endure parents like these and still end up champs as adults.

After looking a Jewish Mothers, models of motherhood, here I look at the opposite, poor parenting practices associated with children who end up delinquents and inmates. Be advised that some children endure parents like these and still end up champs as adults.

Criminal Psychopaths

Repeat, this concerns the worst of the worst children. Studies in Sweden involving interviews of high-security prisoners revealed that many have a history of one of two types of extreme parenting. The two type of parenting styles have been linked to children becoming criminal psychopaths in later life. Psychopaths have a lack of empathy and a tendency to manipulate. They had a history of grotesque physical and/or psychological abuse in childhood. Without exception they have been injured in the company of their caregivers and their later ruthlessness was an attempt to address this damage—but in an inappropriate or bad way.

Wrong method #1 is the absence of care or its opposite, totally obsessive parenting. Most parents are in the middle. The authors stressed that parents cannot be blamed for everything. Not all reckless behavior is explained by poor upbringing or inherited traits. Unlike Flip Wilson, children cannot always defend by saying, “The devil made me do it.”

Wrong method #2 is essentially the opposite of #1. Rigidly controlling, authoritarian parents also do damage to their children .Jewish Mothers are highly controlling yet also emphasizing growing independence and decision making by the child all attended by over-whelming affection, attention, responsiveness, and a healthy community instead of peer groups socializing their children in bad behavior. An axiom I have taught in management may apply: to learn responsibility you must be given some to manage.

Houston Police 12-rules

These 12 rules by anonymous person[s] within the Houston police department first appeared in a newspaper in 1959 and in its latest revision in 2009 presented here..

1. Begin with infancy to give the child everything he wants. In this way he will grow up to believe the world owes him a living.

2. When he picks up bad words, laugh at him. This will make him think he cute. It will also encourage him to pick up “cute phrases” that will blow off the top of your head later.

3. Never give him any spiritual training. Wait until he is 21, and then let him ‘decide for himself.’

4. Avoid the use of the word “wrong”. It may develop a guilt complex. This will condition him to believe later when he is arrested for stealing a car that society is against him and he is being persecuted.

5. Pickup everything he leaves lying around—books, shoes, clothes. Do everything for him so that he will be experienced in throwing all responsibility on others.

6. Let him read any printed matter he can get his hands on. Be careful that the silverware and drinking glasses are sterilized, but don’t worry about his mind feasting on garbage.

7. Quarrel frequently in the presence of your children. In this way they will not be too shocked when the home is broken up later.

8. Give the child all the spending money he wants. Never let him earn his. Why should he have things as tough as you did?

9. Satisfy his every craving for food, drink, and comfort. See that every sensual desire is gratified. Denial may lead to harmful frustration.

10. Take his part against neighbors, teachers, policemen . They are all prejudiced against your child.

11. When he gets into real trouble, apologize to yourself by saying, “I never could do anything with him!”

12. Prepare yourself for a life of grief. You’ll surely have it.

Deferred Gratification

In 1960 Stanford psychologist Walter Mischel conducted a series of experiments in which children 4 to 8 were seated in front of a marshmallow in a dish. He said he was leaving for 15 minutes and they could have the marshmallow or wait until he returned and have it plus a second one. Children who were able to wait longer for the preferred rewards tended to have better life outcomes as measured by SAT scores, educational attainment, body mass index [BMI], better responses to stress and dealing with failure, better social skill, and much more likelihood as adults to achieve personal success in both their professional personal life. Intact families with fathers showed superior ability to delay gratification.

Children define achieving the American Dream as they see it in the entertainment media in which people live in affluent homes, are always at home rather than working, and would have to be in the upper 5-10% of the population financially to afford the lifestyle depicted on the screen. Kids see this and aspire to achieve it in their lifetime. In fact, such upward mobility often requires several generations i.e., deferred gratification. Not achieving it, getting impatient, feeling somehow discriminated against, some turn to crime to achieve their American Dream they feel they deserve now. ‘Movin on up’ typically takes time,


The Bible provides both compass for direction and rudder to move you there. Some highly intelligent people are careful to give their children both in all areas of knowledge and practice yet leave it up to their children to figure out their personal morality on their own. That doesn’t seem too smart to me and I don’t think research supports them in this.

Bob Allison is a Shawnee resident who holds a Ph.D. from the University of Michigan, where he taught and was Associate to the Director of University Hospitals. He and wife Elaine and he have three children, 11 grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren. He can be contacted at