Parenting With Love And Logic: Teaching Children Responsibility (Anglais) Relié – 19 avril 2006
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In general, I like the idea of natural consequences, enforcable choices, and encouraging children to think through their problems. I can see myself using these principles with my own daughter, but not always the way the authors do it. Some of the sample dialogues in the book are reasonable but many do not sound as genuine and empathetic as the authors imply.
Some of the examples in the book and in the "pearls" are making me very upset. In one case, a child has been neglecting her dog by not feeding it, so the mom just gives it away with no warning and without confronting the girl about it. The authors admit this is a really tough approach but that's how kids learn that unless you take care of your health and your animals serious illness or death can result. Now this sounds crazy to me. In our home, we think of pets as a family responsibility, so that might be one difference. Still, wouldn't it teach the girl more about empathy to sit her down and say "you can either come up with a schedule and feed the dog or we are giving it away, you have one week to improve." Why do these authors feel that giving someone a second chance is a bad thing? It seems this might teach her "if I don't fulfill my responsiblity, someone else will take care of it for me."
Another example is a mom who asked her son to do something and he mouths off and refuses. So the next day when he asks for a ride she says, yesterday you showed me that asking nicely can be ignored, so I'm not going to drive you to your activity, even though you asked nicely. Isn't that just being petty and/or spiteful? That's a great lesson for your kid.
A third example is a kid who blows his lunch money and allowance on a carnival and has no money for lunch at school. So he asks his dad if he can make a lunch from food in the fridge. The dad says, yes, but you have to pay for it because I already gave you money for lunch once. Really? Your kid offers to take responsibility to make his own lunch all week and you are going to charge him for it? I'd think remembering to make lunch everyday would teach him the lesson. I agree to not giving him more money, but charging for the food in the fridge sounds stingy - won't he learn that as part of the lesson too?
I think it is possible for kids to learn self-reliance with this method but some of the examples just sound like the kids would end up feeling like their parents are not willing to help them out without significant groveling. It sounds as though a Love and Logic parent is not supposed to give advice or help a kid work on the solution, or not until the child has time to ponder it and slink back to ask for help. I'm not advocating parents do the solving, just help, like talking it out with them or brainstorming. I thought helping others is an important value to teach our kids (not being doormats, being a sounding board to say "what do you think would happen if you used that solution?"). This seems to teach "I'm genuinely sorry you have a problem but it's still yours." Nice.
I just wonder if some of these examples I've listed would make the kid feel like their parents view them as impositions or that the parents really begrudge them something. I realize that how you do it depends on the age of the child, but some of this still seems pretty harsh the way the authors do it. In some cases I don't think that helping them is equal to bailing them out. The examples sound like the parent says "I know you will come up with a solution" and then they just walk away.
I greatly prefer How to Talk so Kids Will Listen and How to Listen so Kids Will Talk. It also emphasizes consequences and letting kids make choices and solve problems themselves but it shows you how to do this and keep talking with them at the same time. If Love and Logic is a turn-off for you, consider reading this other book before throwing out the consiquences/choices method entirely.
My background: I am a linguist and cognitive scientist who advocates neurological nurturing and optimal brain health through parenting the sound, scientific way. I have a two year old, and I am a devoutly practicing Orthodox Christian. So note that when I say that I find this book lacking in the Christian principle of love, of treating others how one would like to be treated, and full of evangelical wrong-headedness. It is also chock-full of bad neurological strategies, and takes advantage of a child's dependence and immature brain structure by making them choose out of helplessness to the situation. This is dangerous stuff.
1. Chiming into the chorus - no innocent animal should ever be allowed to suffer; If we took the sound conclusion that the authors make elsewhere in the book, that warnings allow kids to know that they have stretch room in our discipline habits, and that we should avoid warnings and make a serious point to let kids know that unacceptable behavior has an immediate consequence, then the logical conclusion to come to is that if your kid can't take care of the dog they wanted, they have to find that dog (with help, of course) a loving and better home than the one they're providing...not withhold food from the dog. It's cruel, and the dog never deserved to have to suffer. Just a little side thought: it is widely known that serial killers do just these sorts of things to animals when they are little kids. Whether that's a cause of the inner cruelty within these children, or a recipe for becoming a serial killer bears little import in the light that, either way, you don't want to find out by using this method with your kid.
2. It is stated in the book that kids model neatness behavior in their parents and stick with it as teens. Now, if that's true, explain for me please, why even the best kids with parents who model ideal neatness habits end up cluttering their rooms beyond recognition as teenagers? Could it be that this is not an issue of neatness, but a condition of a developmental stage?
3. It is stated in the book that kids who do not learn to "think for themselves with an inner voice" will automatically succumb to the outer voice of peer pressure whenever it comes along. Sociological and psychological studies tell us that the reason that kids emulate peers is that they are attempting to make different choices in the struggle for autonomy, but learning still has to take place optimally as emulation of *someone*. These peer influences are actually beneficial and necessary to a person's psychological health and growth, and kids are bound to make some life errors, but they never learn anything without trying on different emulation roles. Kids who know they are supported and loved, not manipulated and twisted to the parent's needs or wants, are those who are much less likely to choose poorly.
3. Charging your kids for anything (chores, the babysitter, etc.) is a problem. It is undermining the role of a parent as an ally to do this.
4. I was absolutely horrified at the notion of leaving for the night and instructing the sitter to be unresponsive to their need for comfort or water, or whatever, telling the kid that it's because they wake up at night that they have chosen poorly. Kids have to have a reliable figure in their lives that does not abandon them in a time of real or perceived need. They do not specify how old they think a kid should be in order to complete this horrifying scenario. My fear is that the uninitiated person, who does not know about "neurological piggy-backing" and "self-regulatory soothing via reciprocated feedback" will employ this method on their kid, too young to really comprehend why they are not allowed to express a need at night, not knowing that this may cause separation anxiety and neurosis for the kid who just needs to have a caretaker that regulates emotion *with* them. They should retitle the last chapter "go the F*** to sleep" and sell it accompanying the book of the same title, as a "parenting tip" in seriousness instead of jest.
5. Taking any kid's toys without a promise that they'll get them back is a recipe for a kid to grow up resenting that action. Period.
6. The way this book advocates manipulative coercion, impossible choices, isolation, and withdrawal chills me.
7. The authors advocate "painful" spankings. They state that one should never spank unless they can really make it hurt, and they advocate it for kids under three, who are too little to understand why the person that should nurture and love them most is doing this.
8. Chiming in with the chorus again: never withhold food from a kid. It is abusive neglect to do so. It's also a pretty well-known fact that kids need to have appropriate blood sugar levels in order to develop necessary brain function and to behave well. Withholding food is not just abusive, but a bad suggestion, because hungry kids tend to misbehave. Note that the brain takes a long time to develop its connections and that withholding food is causing a child's brain to critically malfunction, at any age. Even one incident of this can be structurally damaging.
There are about a thousand more ways this book is a damaging, psychologically abusive book. Don't buy it. Don't employ its strategies. They are harmful at best. It is my thought that, as parents, we are trying to raise a kid to grow up into a successful person who has emotional regulation skills, sound reasoning abilities, and who will be a benefit to the world for having been in it. Furthermore, we are trying to pass on parenting skills via immersion. This book does little to satisfy those ends. It is therefore helpful to remember that what we teach our kids about our parenting style by modeling is what our great-great-great grandchildren may be learning, and it is a heavy thought to consider that by employing these strategies, we could be creating a neglect and abuse cycle that will last far longer than we'll be alive.
Please, do yourself and your kid(s) a favor, and buy a "positive parenting" book instead. There are points in this book well worth considering, yes, all having to do with logical conclusions and choices to make them, but to that end, I say that 'even a blind squirrel finds a nut sometimes'. I bought this book in hopes of finding an alternative to time-out, and what I got was a book full of cunning manipulation, deceptive "control" tactics, and an emphasis on developing a sort of parental narcissism to "regain control". Please, do not buy this book. Please. For the love of your child.
Trust someone who was parented in this general way (me), when I tell you that the outcomes expected in this book are not what you're going to get, because your child will be damaged forever by some of these tactics. I know I still resent some of these tactics, and I found myself plunged into a remembrance of what it was like to be the kid on the other end of a parent who thought that these sorts of tactics worked. I firmly believe that if my mother could have seen far into the future and known the damage that these tactics cause, that she would have done differently. We all would; therefore, my advice is not to buy this book, not to employ these practices, and not to embrace this sort of extreme "natural consequence" ideology, before you too, are the parent saying that all you wanted was relief from upsetting behaviors in the moment, and instead, what you got was a kid that resented and hated you for having been the parent that read this book and put it in action.
The good: The book premise is to help parents raise responsible children and it does make some valid points about the importance of raising successful children.
The bad: The parenting methods the authors suggest you use are one of the reasons why so many of us say we don't want to raise our children like our parents raised us. Their methods center around the concept of 'tough love' and are based on seriously outdated child-rearing concepts. Some of their advice has the potential of bringing not just animal right advocates to your door, but children service agencies as well.
The authors identify various parenting styles at the extreme end - failing to acknowledge that most parents rear their child(ren) on a continuum. Parents who fluctuate between parenting styles allow for more versatility than the one size fits all approach the authors advocate.
The authors also assume that all social institutions are fair and just and that your child should be a conformist. While at the extreme end helicopter parents can be a problem, many parents are left with no choice but to advocate for their children. For instance, in today's zero-tolerance school environment common sense has been lost in favor of suspending elementary students for trivial reasons such as bringing a plastic knife with their lunch. These children are helpless to defend themselves in these kinds of situations and need their parents to stand up for them.
The authors are also out of touch with other issues, such as school homework. They point to homework completion as being the child's problem, not yours, yet many teachers are sending home assignments that are meant to be completed with their parents (in order to increase parental involvement in homework.) There is also substantial research out there that demonstrates homework at the elementary level has no academic benefit and that children's time would be more productive and beneficial if they were engaged in other activities. As a result, parents armed with this knowledge are challenging teachers who consistently send home busy work that takes away from valuable family time (these are the same parents who are often unfairly labeled as helicopter parents.)
There are also several instances where the authors are really preaching values under the guise of information. Additionally, I have some very serious concerns about the authors backgrounds, which you can read more about in other reviews. All and all, this book is absent of any sound child-rearing advice and really no more than the authors own personal opinions on how they think you should be raising your children.
If you are a religious fundamentalist looking to provide your children with "tough love" then this is your book. For the rest of you, keep searching for something better.
They lost me, and I expect countless others, at the example of the family allowing the animal to go hungry long enough that his ribs were showing. They do not step in when the child neglects the dog, expecting the child to be responsible for the dog. THEN after puppy has gotten so thin it's ribs are showing (not a fun period of time for our furry friend I'd imagine) the parent steps in to say the dog has gone to a "new home" They state that "We sometimes worry that this approach sounds too tough, taking a pet out of the home with the possibility it may never return". I don't see this as the primary problem! An animal is not fed to the point his ribs are showing in order to provide a teaching moment.
Interesting the book only a few pages prior states we should "tremble" at what parents' model.
Uh Oh! - Love and Logic modeling neglect, pets are disposable, and to add insult to injury the mom says it hurts her eyes to see the starvation and her ears to hear the cries of hunger. Really?! Don't know I want to teach my children that those who "suffer" the observation of neglect yet choose not to act are the ones who should have our compassion.
They have some good fundamental ideas but I am suspect of how far they go with their approach. I'm unwilling to allow my child to abuse or neglect another living creature and think I'm going to sleep well suffering the "consequences" of that.
I've seen reviews stating other concerns about lines that are drawn, or not draw and am happy to spare myself the frustration of reading those examples.