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high five, john rosemond, parenting
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Giving a high-five to a kid who needs one.

John Rosemond, a 74-year-old columnist and family psychologist, has folks up in arms after he wrote a column about why he never gives children high-fives. The article, “Living With Children: You shouldn't high-five a child” was published on the Omaha World-Herald’s website on October 2.

The post reads like a verse from the “Get Off My Lawn” bible and posits that one should only share a high-five with someone who is one's equal.

"I will not slap the upraised palm of a person who is not my peer, and a peer is someone over age 21, emancipated, employed and paying their own way," the columnist wrote. "The high-five is NOT appropriate between doctor and patient, judge and defendant, POTUS and a person not old enough to vote (POTUS and anyone, for that matter), employer and employee, parent and child, grandparent and grandchild."

Does he ask to see a paystub before he high-fives adults?

“Respect for adults is important to a child’s character development, and the high-five is not compatible with respect,” he continues. “It is to be reserved for individuals of equal, or fairly equal, status.”


Rosemond believes that a child should “know their place” and that once they high-five an adult they have no reason to obey them.

Anecdotally, I’ve found that sharing a high-five with a kid has nothing to do with whether they will obey me or not. I coach AYSO soccer and give out high-fives till I’m bruised on game day and come next practice they are all great listeners.

The article got a big reaction on Twitter after it was shared by a user named erin, Ph.D.


A lot of people had no trouble challenging Rosemond's logic.

Others took the opportunity to crack some jokes.


The column made some realize they'd been ruining the nation's youth without knowing it.

Of course, this guy earned his "old man yells at cloud" award.

We have a winner.

To Rosemond’s credit, he begins the post with full knowledge of the criticism he’s going to receive. “I’m talking about adults high-fiving children, and yes, I am about to reveal that I am the Grinch, or so it would seem,” he wrote.

It’s pretty easy to pile on Rosemond for his antiquated views of how we should interact with children. It’s pretty clear that he has a conflated view of what a high-five between two people means. It’s a fun way to give someone simple praise, no more, no less.

It seems that Rosemond missed the mark on finding a way to get to a point that is correct about the parent-child relationship: “Boundaries in relationships are essential to their proper functioning,” he writes.

Then he lays out some commonsense parenting advice.

“Children should not call their parents (or any other adults) by their first names,” he writes. “They should notsleep with their parents. They should not have free access to their parents’ money (yes, I am saying children should not have credit cards). They should not be allowed to view certain movies their parents view.”

Rosemond writes that a high-five isn’t “compatible with respect.” But he should also know that refusing to dole out simple praise may not make one worthy of respect in the first place.

Photo: Jason DeCrow for United Nations Foundation

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