Monday, August 8, 2011

love and logic: mission possible

mission possible: raising responsible kids

train children in the right way, and when old they will not stray.
proverbs 22:6
so here is the honest truth; these little beings that start out their journey in life 100% dependent on us for survival, will someday have to be 100% dependent on themselves. well, i guess they don't HAVE to be, they could grow up to always be dependent on others and never able to think for themselves. but ultimately we will be sending them out into this complex, fast changing world full of temptations and life-and-death decisions. surely, our hope is that they can think for themselves and make good responsible decisions. in other words, "those little tykes, so innocent and playful at our feet, will someday grow up. we want to do everything humanly possible for our children so that someday they can strut confidently into the real world. and we do it all in the name of love. but love can get us in trouble - not love itself per se, but how we show it. our noble intentions are often our own worst enemy when raising responsible kids."

the authors of love & logic say that some of the most disrespectful and rebellious kids come from homes where they were shown love, but it was just the wrong kind of love. exploring these "ineffective parenting styles" is very interesting. i think we all are guilty of part of these from time to time. it would take being perfect to not be.

ineffective parenting styles
helicopter parents
these parents hover over their children and rescue them at the first sight of trouble. they are forever running lunches, permission slips, and homework to school. often these parents feel that they are easing their their child's path into adulthood. these parents are always bailing their children out of any and every bind.

the turbo attack helicopter parent
this parenting style was added in the last revision of the book. the authors quote these parents as, "no longer just rescue and defend. they fly in with guns blazing and missiles locked to attack anyone who holds their child accountable for his or her actions." these parents are obsessed with creating a perfect world for their child, hoping they enter adulthood with the best credentials. these kids have remarkable resumes and are over scheduled in academics and extracurricular activities. turbo parents always make their child the victim, something that wears out the teachers and administrators that come into contact with them.

drill sergeant parents
these parents believe that to love their child they need to control them and insist that they not fail. kids of drill sergeant parents are consistently told what to do, and when given the chance to think for themselves they often make horrendous decisions. these parents are totally into power, never giving the child a chance to learn how to be responsible. these children often go through life very concerned about what everyone else thinks, and are often victims of peer pressure.

the effective parenting style of love & logic
the consultant parent
love and logic parents avoid the helicopter and drill sergeant mentalities by using a consultant style of parenting as early as possible in the child's life. they ask their children questions and offer choices. instead of telling their children what to do, they put the burden of decision making on their kids' shoulders. they establish options with limits. thus, by the time the children become teens, they are used to making good decisions.
a love and logic parent knows that by allowing their child to fail early, the cost is very minimal. natural consequences cost less when our kids are young, versus when they are older and the stakes are higher. sure it can be tough to watch our children fail, but these significant learning opportunities (SOLs), are the price we must pay to raise responsible kids. "we have a choice: we can hurt a little as we watch them learn life's lessons now, or we can hurt a lot as we watch them grow up to be individuals unable to care for themselves."
we set the boundaries of their failure based on their age and within the choices we given them. asking your rebellious 3 year, "would you like to go to the car with your feet on the ground or your feet in the air?" sets a reasonable and enforceable limit. either way they choose gets them in the car, but they are burdened with making the decision of how to get there. the key is to offer choices that are valid. saying something like, "get in the car, or i am leaving you here!" holds no value because you really wouldn't leave your 3 year old in a parking lot. both choices must be enforceable, and you must be willing to follow through even if they choose the harder of the two.

no matter how hard we try we cannot teach responsibility to our children. they must "catch" it through SOLs and observing the important people in their lives making responsible decisions. parents who raise responsible kids spend very little time and energy worrying about their kids' responsibilities; they worry more about how to let the children encounter SLOs for their irresponsibility.
where does that leave me?
like i said at the beginning of this post, most of us are guilty of using some of the ineffective parenting styles from time to time. i can for sure relate to wanting to protect my child and set them up for success. and i don't think that those are bad things, they are natural things. i am in total agreement with the love and logic mindset and have always been a big fan of giving choices. my growth needs to come in letting coen experience failure more often. i do believe that it is my responsibility as his mama to provide him with a safe environment to learn and grow. there is not much in our house that he can't play with. i have made it a focus to set him up for success within his own environment. this eliminates daily battles over small things, and opens up time for SLOs that are meaningful. i know that he won't always be in environments that are like this, but it would be irresponsible of me to leave sharp, breakable, expensive items laying around the house and expect him to make the choice to not touch them. by giving him a safe environment i am setting a limit on his failures. probably this is true even in raising teenagers; you aren't worried about them finding a pair of scissors but might want to put a lock on the liquor cabinet. i am excited about the idea that each toddler struggle i find myself in is an opportunity for a SLO. over the next week i am going to keep track of some of these opportunities and i will share them with you. happy parenting!

oh, one last did i ever live without this little person in my life?!

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful advice from a fabulous mama! Coen is too, too, adorable. Love R