This is a book review of Parenting with Love & Logic. This post is not meant to be judgmental, I’m just sharing what has (and hasn’t) worked for me.
I don’t know about you, but getting my children to behave and do what I want them to do is not easy. Times two. We throw food, we pull hair, we say no, we ignore directions. It’s a ton of fun. So, how do I handle it?
Coming from a background where my mom and stepdad parented one way, and my dad and stepmom a completely different way, I was fortunate to see how I didn’t want to parent. While you’ll never see me spank my child, and I rarely yell at them (unless it’s a dangerous situation), I realize that every person parents differently.
My MOMs group recently had a parenting guru come out and talk to us about the Love & Logic approach and how to incorporate it. Initially, I loved the approach. It didn’t advocate spanking or yelling, and I thought I’d give it a try.
When reading Parenting With Love And Logic, I started to have some reservations about the book. It has some great points and talked about how to let kids make mistakes (I agree) and learn from them with natural consequences (I agree) but it kept using the word ‘control’. How by being calm and loving, and using logical consequences as punishment, we could control our kids and their behavior. The book even says it will help you “establish control over your kids.”
I don’t know about you, but I’m not that into being controlled. And when I try and control what my child is doing, it usually ends in tantrums.
I also had an issue with the fact that the book didn’t address how to handle multiples. When the coach was speaking to our group, she was asked several questions that she couldn’t answer. She did say that it would be like any sibling sets (yeah, right), but when one mom brought up what to do when one child throws a fit at McDonalds and the other is being good, her response was to leave McDonalds. Doesn’t that punish the other child, too? She then followed up with a solution to leave and just explain to the ‘good’ child that they will get some benefit by leaving that the ‘bad’ child wouldn’t. A lot of the moms scoffed at that. I’m sure it had something to do with the fact that this might encourage more sibling rivalry, and it will certainly build up a heart of hatred between family members who feel wronged.
Imagine: your twins share a room. You have to punish one by taking out all the books because they are tearing them up, but the other twin hasn’t done anything wrong and loves to read. So, you are now punishing both of them, when only one did something wrong. You’re also still punishing, and the child who is getting punished is going to feel controlled and angry. Even when you approach it with love and logic. Have you taught them to treat the books right? Have you asked them why they tore the book, gotten to the heart of the matter (although, some examples do have you do this in the book, not all do)? Have you taught them to manage their frustrations and cope so that they know what’s normal and acceptable? Or that’s it’s okay to be angry, but this is how you handle it? No. If you’re using the Love & Logic method, you’ve just taken the books away and tried again the next night to put them back, repeating this until they no longer tear books. AND you’ve also punished the ‘good’ twin, who is now probably angry at the ‘bad’ twin and maybe even you.
I realize that we can’t always be ‘fair’ in parenting, and I do think there are some benefits to the Love & Logic method (like the empathy, logical consequences, and responsibility aspects), but I don’t think that consequences have to equal punishments.
So, I moved on. Looked for another angle – one that would meet the needs of my preferences and family. I became very interested in the Positive Parenting method (this is NOT the same as attachment parenting). I am a huge fan of Aha, Parenting! and have linked to her article about what positive parenting is, but the basic definition is this:
Positive parenting is parenting without punishment. It’s parenting that teaches the child to want to behave, to be considerate, to recognize and regulate their emotions, and eventually, to self-discipline.
Now, you do still discipline your kids, but did you know that discipline comes from the word disciple, which means, ‘to teach’? It’s not the same as punishment. That was important to me.
Another great resource for positive parenting comes from the Positive Parenting Connection. I love how she explains that kids respond better to guidance vs. control. How many times have you given your child milk, but they didn’t want it and it became a battle of wills? Guide them, instead. Help them feel a tiny bit in control and give them choices. Teach them to tap into their feelings and understand their emotions.
That article I just linked to above? Here’s a great excerpt from it:
Punishments and disconnected consequences like standing in a corner do not help with any of that. Like when my daughter ripped the picture, sitting in the corner was not going to make the picture whole again. It also was not going to teach her how to manage her frustrations or how to make amends with her brother.
So, this solves one of my issues with Love & Logic, but what about the multiples issue? Well, when you aren’t using punishment, you don’t run into as many fairness issues or anger issues from either party. When you use methods of guidance, you’re teaching everyone at the same time, and even fairly most of the time.
This method has worked significantly better for me with my surviving triplets than the Love & Logic method, and I’m happier too – I feel more connected to my children and like I’m helping develop them, not just control them. And I especially love that I am starting to really see the benefits and the learning set in. I have some really loving, helpful, considerate children. Well, most of the time.
Instead of being selfish, we’re caring for others and helping (she wanted to wear the hat, but couldn’t figure out how to put it on).
Instead of fighting, we’re sharing (even stuff that’s exclusively ours!).
Instead of getting ‘in the way’, we’re learning expectations and life lessons (like cooking, cooperating, helping – and patience).
And, ultimately, we’re able to be this:
Tomorrow, I’ll talk about another book I use that comes from a Christian perspective and mixes in some of the principles of each of these two methods.
What about you? What type of parent are you? Do you punish? Give choices? Use consequences? I truly believe there is no one right or wrong way, and that only you can decide what works best for your family.