Living with Children: High-fiving fallout


Well, I must say I’m rather, uh, disappointed albeit my worst suspicions have been verified. I expected response to my recent column on the practice of high-fiving children, but I failed to account for the general deterioration of critical thinking skills brought about by social media, and did not, consequently, anticipate the level of vitriol the column would provoke.

Mind you, some folks affirmed my stance on what I believe is an inappropriate gesture when exchanged between adult and child, but the negatives outweighed the positives by nine to one. That would bother me, even give me pause for reflection, if it were not for the quality of the nine. Without exception (that I found), my detractors failed to tell me why I am wrong. Apparently unable to marshal a cogent defense of the practice in question, they resorted to ridicule, name-calling, and downright unprintable obscenity.

I am informed, for example, that I am not simply an idiot; I am a (BLEEP) idiot. That assessment was, by the way, a recurring theme. If ad hominem of that sort reflects the intellectual prowess of the folks opposed to my opinion, then I must be correct.

In any event, I am consoled that even though I am thoroughly “incorrect” in nearly every sense of the term, people who thoroughly disapprove of me read this column. And over forty-six years of writing a column dealing with the third most controversial topic of the postmodern era, I have learned to take what I can get.

QUESTION: Okay, John, I will admit that your recent column on adults high-fiving children caused me to engage in some self-reflection. Do I want my child to think of me as his buddy? Unfortunately, yes. Do I high-five him because there is no viable alternative? No, because for thousands of years adults managed to demonstrate approval of children without high-fiving. So, I reluctantly conclude that you have a point. But what in your estimation is the best alternative?

ANSWER: Thank you for a well thought-out response to my recent column. You may have prevented me from developing criticism-induced PTSD. As it is, I’ve only taken to sleeping — or, more accurately, “sleeping” — with three Ninja warriors positioned around my bed.

Good question! As you point out, the alternative to high-fiving was practiced, albeit in various specific forms, for thousands of years. It has been all but discarded because the primary motto of postmodernity (which has prevailed since the 1960s) is, “If it worked for thousands of years, it’s gotta go!”

I’m referring to simply saying, “Nice job, kid” or something similar. That can appropriately be accompanied by a pat on the back, a gentle squeeze of the shoulder, a kiss on the cheek, or a tussle of the hair (but be forewarned, most kids hate having their hair tussled and those above eleven, approximately, hate being kissed by a parent).

[Family psychologist John Rosemond:, Copyright 2022, John K. Rosemond]