Parenting is huge to me. I stress about it a lot. My first priority needs to be my relationship with God, but my second is to my family and my kids (taking care of myself is necessary for both of these relationships). I am glad I have made the choice to spend more time with my kids, but I still screw up all the time and feel terrible about it. I stress and stay awake at night trying to figure it out. Parenting is not easy, especially when each kid and each parent is so different. The crazy thing is that with parenting you don’t know if you have been successful until much later… or to late. So my perfectionist, over thinking personality spends lots of time on this issue.
I have read part of Parenting with Love and Logic before but wanted to go through it in it’s entirety. I got the book on tape and was able to listen to it while I was in the car for over 7 hours yesterday. There was a lot, especially at the beginning I really enjoyed, but as the book went on I discovered 2 major themes in their theory that I, in my parenting, am working very hard against.
I think their stuff is good verbal manipulation for co-habiting with children until they can be sent off on their own. This, to me, isn’t parenting. Some days the focus is only on survival, but there is so much more I believe parenting can be. The 2 things that bug me are:
1. Choice: I feel I have been given my kids so that I can train them. I believe they should have some choices but this theory seems go to far on this. It isn’t a control freak to say that I am the parent, and I know what is best. I read ‘Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mom’ of few months ago. I don’t agree with everything in the book, (I don’t know if the author would have done things the same way the second time, it isn’t a parenting book, but an honest diary of their journey) but I am much closer to this lady’s philosophy than ‘love and logic’.
For example, it says for homework you can require your child to sit at the table with their books for 2 hours but you can’t make them study, that is their choice. That isn’t the way it works at our house, you sit at the table with your books till your done and it is done right. It is far easier for a parent to just control location but kids don’t know how to choose what is right all the time. Sometime they need the tough love that takes time and energy from the parents to make the right choice.
Living civil with others, learning/schooling what they are able, as well as taking care of their body, things and space is not something that is up for discussion. I don’t use fancy words to try and convince my kids to make the right choice I tell them what the right choice is and let them get used to making it as they grow up. Kids used to not fighting, studying hard, showering and living in a clean room will have the habit and will be uncomfortable in a different setting later. My theory. I don’t think a parent needs (or should) control every action of their kids but parents are the ones to set the standards. For example: where they want to keep things in their room, shower or bath, study in room or dinning room. My kids won’t have the option below the standards that are set. Love and logic says it is the kids problem if they get bad grades or don’t get along with others. I disagree, I am still the parent, it is still my problem. Not to solve myself, but to teach my child how to solve and insure they follow through and do.
2. Problem ownership: The love and logic theory is big on making the child’s problem belong to the child. Touched on a bit in the previous paragraph I would add that I think this hurts the family unit and is unbiblical. God created the family unit as well as the church unit/body. Apart from the obvious differences (mostly noted above) between parenting children and being a church member I think they are quite similar, we were made to need each other. ‘No man is an island’ is something everyone realizes no matter what their background. The family unit has enough trying to tear it apart. What is wrong with needing and depending on each other? The bible says about the church in 1 Cor 12 that it is a unit, functioning together and needing each other. Specifically in 1Cor 12:26 it says that if one member suffers, all the members suffer.
Love and logic says that we need to give our kids problems back to them to figure out. Childhood, teenage years, adulthood, just live in general is hard, we all screw up and we all need each other. It seems some people are so terrified their kids are going to be deadbeats living in their basement at 35 playing video games that they separate themselves from them and make sure there are these strong lines dividing ‘my problems’ and ‘your problems’.
Never should a kid just have everything fixed for them but what if the family worked together through all the problems. The argument with ‘Love and Logic’ is the important learning experience for teaching responsibility. Do these same parents want their kids to say “Sorry Mom and/or Dad, sucks to be retired with tones of medical expenses and not enough money. I sure don’t like it when I run out of money. Let me know how it turns out.”
I am also reading ‘The New Good Life’ and, though it isn’t a parenting book, their family dynamics jumped out at me. The author and his wife have lived on practically nothing all their lives and when their twin grandkids were born with lots of complications that had lasting effects they fully planned to use their money to help their kids raise their grandkids. They were living together to share the work of the kids. Then when all the money was stolen all 4 adults pulled together and did all they could to save the house and take care of the kids. I want my family to be like this. I want my family to be a team from now until… forever. I have friends with families like this. Parents and grown kids who are close and do everything they can to help each other. No one trying to take advantage and no one afraid they are being taken advantage of. ‘When one member suffers all the members suffer with it’ Problems in the family belong to the whole family, not just the kids (like ‘Love and Logic’) and not just the parents (like a controlling, enabling parent)
Like I said, there was lots of parts that I agreed with and lots of stuff I liked, but these two underlying themes I think are both issues that are contributing to the problems with our society. High expectations and a tight family team would make such a difference for the better.