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katehaney

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05:31 pm: Unconditional Parenting
I've been reading another good parenting book: Unconditional Parenting, by Alfie Kohn. His thesis is that parenting with punishments (any punishments) and bribes (any bribes) is ineffective, and the research he cites seems to back him up. I wouldn't expect him to cite research that doesn't back him up, but many parenting books don't cite much research at all (if any).

His recommendations are kinda squishy. He's more strategic than tactical, explaining that the tactics are so specific to the child, the situation, and the relationships that they're not helpful. I don't know about that - I would've liked more examples of specific situations. The before and after of conditional versus unconditional parenting, as it were.

But I like the strategy. And he's eloquent in writing about things that have bothered me for a long time. The one that hit me hardest is trusting that your child has good motives. It's always bugged me that so many books seem to follow the "give 'em an inch, they'll take a mile" maxim. It's related to the notion that children (babies, according to some books!) are manipulative. What, because they try to get what they want? Who doesn't? Doesn't that make them human, rather than manipulative?

It's a very negative attitude about children, which is sad. It's also an attitude that moves quickly to a very controlling approach to parenting, which also bothers me. I know Peter gets impatient with me for giving Teddy choices. In truth, I'm not always a good judge of what choices Teddy is equipped to make, and it does mean that some interactions take much longer than they would if I just did whatever I felt like doing, without consulting a two-year-old.

But so many adult issues are related to control - feeling you don't have enough, wanting to have more, worrying that others have more than you do, trying to get control over anything you can, all that stuff - that it seems logical to assume that giving a child a sense of control is A Good Thing. And I don't mean picking his clothes or whatever, though I would want to include such small issues among the things he could control, but things that matter, things where I may have to deal with Teddy's choosing something with which I don't wholeheartedly agree.

:gulp:

This parenting stuff is hard. As Kohn writes, we should replace the saying "it's not rocket science," with "it's not parenting."

Current Location: Boston
Current Mood: contemplativecontemplative
Current Music: Think (Aretha Franklin)
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[User Picture]
From:occhi_cinesi
Date:January 3rd, 2007 02:38 pm (UTC)

I hope, I hope, I hope...

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...that I don't get one of those manipulative babies! I've been told about them so many times: If you pick up a crying baby once, they'll expect candy the next time, then they'll cry and work you for a new toy and then it's a slippery slope towards a brand new car and their own fully furnished penthouse apartment! So manipulative, those little 7 month olds! hehehehehe
[User Picture]
From:katehaney
Date:January 3rd, 2007 08:03 pm (UTC)

I know!

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What is with kids these days? They want all that stuff, like, y'know, food and hugs and clean diapers.

Spoiled little brats!
[User Picture]
From:occhi_cinesi
Date:January 4th, 2007 01:19 am (UTC)

Re: I know!

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Food, hugs and clean diapers!!!????? Get this, I've heard they want security, and warmth and feelings of safety, the sound of a heartbeat, the gentle gaze into a familiar face!! OMG! We incubate them, we birth them and they only want more! What do they want from us? What do they think we are???? Loving, protective parents? The love comes only when they've done right and made us proud and the protective only comes when they want freedom and keys to the car. What are we, their pawns???? I'm not going to be manipulated by some little infant, nosireeeeeee! (yeah, right)
[User Picture]
From:katehaney
Date:January 4th, 2007 01:16 pm (UTC)

phew

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so glad you've got all that straight. I would hate to watch you get so horribly manipulated by your spawn.
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