Parents, the secret to a happy family is putting your children last.

A newspaper clipping stands out on a digital news feed.

And there’s one that has been standing out on parents’ feed for months now. Men are sharing it, over and over. And it’s about family. You might have seen it:

It's an article by a famous American family psychologist, John Rosemund. And John is here to tell us that everything we're doing with our kids and our families is wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong.

Because we have our families upside down.

Now I don't think Rosemund is referring to yoga, or even non-traditional families (there's not much that's non-traditional about John - his favourite book's the Bible, his favourite bit of parenting advice is to bring back the phrase 'Because I said so'.)

He's referring to the way 'normal people' treat their kids.

Like they're important. Like their needs come first. Like the world - at least the small one contained inside your home - revolves around them.

Watch: The phrases you'll never hear a mum say. Post continues after video.

Sound familiar? Let John tell you about this couple who came to see him who just couldn't seem to control their three kids.


"Many if not most of the problems they're having with their kids... are the result of treating their children as if they, their marriage and their family exist because of the kids, when, in fact it is the other way around..." John writes. "When we were kids it was clear to us that our parents were the most important people in our families... We did not sleep in their beds or interrupt their conversations. The family meal, at home, was regarded as more important than after-school activities."

Are you squirming yet? I am. I wake up every morning with my daughter's feet in my face.

Holly Wainwright.

Let John really bring it home for you.

"The most important person in an army is the general. The most important person in a company is the CEO. The most important person in a classroom is the teacher. And the most important people in a family are the parents."

Isn't that a radical concept?

Parents of young children, parents of moody teenagers, when was the last time you felt important?

Listen: Your kids should not be the most important people in your life. Post continues after audio.

Important is what you are but not what you feel when you're wiping noses, packing lunchboxes, breaking up arguments, combing out nits, trying to find Just Dance on YouTube and forgetting the names of all the dinosaurs. Again.

CEO doesn't really cover it.

John Rosemund is one of a growing, vocal band of parenting experts who wants to call us back to a time of common-sense and home-made dinners at 6 and 'wait til your father gets home'. And to a generation of frazzled parents, sprinting about yelling and never getting to finish a conversation, it's beginning to sound quite comforting.


Which brings me back to the men who are sharing this post on my feed.

"More than a bit of truth in this one," a male friend posts hopefully, knowing that his wife will tease him until he takes it down just as soon as she sees it.

"Something we could all learn from," writes another, and you can almost feel him ducking as he presses send.

Are men particularly loving this advice because they feel, in this crazy inverted family, that somehow they've ended up on the bottom? That their needs come last?


Oh, boo-hoo boys, it's not that bad.

Your needs might come last but statistics show you're still not cooking the meals or folding the washing.

Keith Urban famously said he puts his wife above his daughters. And people took notice, because there's nothing like a rich and famous man telling us that 'date night' is his natural born right.

Because for most of us, male and female, the compulsion to love your children above all things is inate. We know we're meant to pretend we love everyone the same - 'There's enough love to go around, it doesn't run out,' we say.


That's nonsense. By 9pm on a Monday evening, my love has run out. I spent it all cajoling the kids into bed, convincing them to play a lame game of Uno with their mum, getting homework finished, kissing them and tucking them in and then putting them back to bed and then kissing them and tucking them in and putting them back in bed. My love reserves are run down.

Listen: Little girls want to wear dinosaur knickers too. Post continues after audio.

That's the point where, John Rosemund would say, we should sit down together and reconnect. Re-establish ourselves as real, actual people with oodles of self-worth and a real drive to be together, parent together, and love each other. You know ogether.

But really, you'd rather shovel down some carbs ad stare at Netflix for an hour. Actually, they can stare at Netflix, you'll be right there, on your phone.

That's the trouble with relationship and parenting advice from a pre-Facebook world. They have no idea how easy it is to never speak to the person next to you on the couch. Noses buried in phones, eyes twitching in a tech-indused Twitter. Who are you again?

So yes, John Rosemund, it sounds lovely in this parenting utopia where everyone does what their told and no-one ever questions parental wisdom, but that place exploded about 20 years ago and now we live amid the rubble.

And there's Netflix there. Kids, what do you want to watch?