Too Many and Too Few Limitations for Children

  • Michael B. Rothenberg


The conjunction in the middle of the title of this chapter seems to me to characterize the current status of this situation quite accurately. Too many and too few limitations plague our children and ourselves, and indeed, in the same family, both situations may be present simultaneously. As the pressure has increased on physicians, among others, to provide society with some solution to this dilemma, we have often tended to provide a prescription which draws heavily from what I call the “unholy trinity” of activity / authority / magic. Traditionally, our patients have expected us to go about solving their problems in a highly active manner, our actions carried out with maximum authority, and with both doctor and patient tacitly accepting the reassurance provided for both parties by the “magic” of medicine. It is my impression that we do our patients and ourselves a disservice when we attempt to respond in this manner to the highly complex issues which are represented by children’s and parents’ questions concerning too many and too few limitations. Paul Goodman (1964), whom many college students attempted to make into one of their folk heros, pointed out to those of our children who consider themselves in the vanguard of various “anti-Establishment” movements in recent years, that their greatest weakness, and thus the greatest danger to the success of their cause, is the fact that “they have no sense of history.” We adults, as we attempt to respond to the question of limitations, also seem often to have little or no historical perspective.


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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1973

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael B. Rothenberg

There are no affiliations available

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