If you remember, I mentioned the book Parenting with Love and Logic recently. Well, I finished the book so I thought I’d share some of my thoughts on it. 🙂
In the beginning of the book they (Foster and Cline) describe two types of parenting styles:
- Helicopter Parents – parents who hover over their children and then rescue them whenever trouble arises. They are uncomfortable imposing consequences and bail their children out constantly.
- Drill Sergeant Parents – parents who bark out a steady stream of orders, telling their children what they will and will not do. Children don’t need to think for themselves because these parents run their entire life.
Then they introduce a third type of parenting style, Consultant Parents, which is what this book is all about. Consultant Parents are parents who ask their children questions and offer choices. They establish options within limits. Why is that important? Because they learn to make responsible decisions and accept the consequences, both positive and negative, for choices made.
Helicopter parents are constantly bailing their children out. But the real world does not run on the bail-out principle. Traffic tickets, overdue bills, etc. are a part of real life and do not just disappear. So children raised this way are not prepared to meet the real world.
Drill sergeant parents have a different kind of problem. Because they were never allowed to make their own decision but were trained to listen to a voice outside their heads – that of their parents – they are more likely to cave to peer pressure in their teens. The reason is because they still follow the same pattern, only this time the voice outside of their head telling them what to do all the time belongs to their peers. Drill sergeant parents tend to raise followers who have never learned to make decisions for themselves.
The parenting style taught here – the Consultant Parent – teaches the value of creating options and choices when possible and allowing children to deal with the consequences of their own decisions. For example: They can choose whether to eat the food placed before them at lunch time, or they can choose to eat that food for dinner. If a child doesn’t want to eat their lunch and then complains of being hungry an hour later…the consequence of that decision is that they are now hungry and must wait for dinner. You don’t bail them out; doing so completely removes the chance for them to learn from it. The next time lunch comes around they will think it through more carefully and make a wise decision. The idea is that they learn good decision making skills now, while the consequences are small, rather than later when the price is much higher.
I found the book helpful and I learned a lot from it about the importance of letting my children make more decisions, rather than telling them what to do all the time. For that reason I thought the book was very good.
That said, I think the parents need to make sure they keep things balanced. I think the authors tend to go too far in the amount of choices they give the children and encourage the parents to steer clear of any real commands. I don’t think that is healthy either. There needs to be balance. Children should be given options when possible, but they also need to learn that there are times when they will be told to do something (without an option) and they must do it. Just like in the real world. There are times when there are options given and times when there isn’t.
Also, each child is different. They tell a story of a child being allowed to wear whatever they wanted to church…and they choose to wear pajamas. The parents are encouraged to allow them to and let the child learn on their own. The idea is that the child will show up in church, be embarrassed by it and not want to do it again. Um, I have a child who would love to wear pajamas to church (and he’s much older than the age given in the story!) and would not be phased in the least by the fact that they were the only one in pajamas. 😉 That is NOT an option I would give. I do, however, often say to my children “Would you like to wear this outfit or this one?” and let them choose between the two outfits. In other words, wearing dress clothes to church is not an option – what IS an option, is what set of dress clothes they wear.
So, for me I have taken to heart the importance of teaching them to make decisions, and accepting the consequences (both positive and negative) of those decisions…but the way I carry that out is more structured than what I see laid out in the book.