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TCS Discussion Threads - Archived - Page 3

post #41 of 589
Thread Starter 
Paulab52, you wrote:

"I feel like I'm always telling my kids what to do."

It is a pretty new world to them, and they are probably glad to get lots of advice from someone they trust- mom and dad are the best candidates for 'trusted advisor' status. Tentatively offering information, and being willing to listen and to adjust one's theories in the light of new information, makes more sense than to order people around without regard for their feelings and wishes in the matter, in the context of close personal relationships.

"Yes, I know I'm the parent and I know what's best, "

Well, there is the biological fact of being the parent, and then there is the trusted advisor capacity. Human beings are fallible- yep, every single last one of them, even the pope If a person approaches any situation, sure that they know what is best, they are apt to miss the opportunity to improve their theories and to find what is more best. And, in the parent-child relationship, they run the risk of causing resentment and anger and desire for revenge and closing off lines of communication and such like.

"but I swear, they don't listen to me anyway. "

And I think this is why kids don't listen to parents. Parents have told them how many times? about this is going to happen or that is going to hurt you, and the kid does whatever it is and finds out that *parent was wrong*. Yet, parent seems to think that 'parent knows best'.

Words matter. How a parent talks to their child about what parent wants to do next in the day or about bringing a cherished toy into a store with them or about brushing their teeth or anything at all, makes a big difference as to what sort of solution will be found to any problem. Solutions that come about through non-coercion do not harm people.

Is it right to coerce/cause coercion in the mind of one's child, or in one's own mind, for that matter? What is the harm that it does? What about telling the truth? A parent might want to think about how to tell the absolute, scrupulous truth. Sprinkling a lot of 'I could be wrong's and 'it seems to me' and 'as far as I know' and 'this is how I think it is' and 'my understanding is' let's everyone know that there is room for more information and that we might never know the truth of any matter, but this is our best theory according to what we know now. And the way is open for anyone involved to throw out their ideas, and ne knowledge can be created.

In some instances, child does know better than parent, especially when it comes to what is going on in hir own mind and body.

Quoting Paulab52 again:

"Take of your PJ's and get dressed so we can go out."

How about asking if anyone wants to go out? Including everyone in making the plan, get ideas about where to go. A parent can outline the things that they want to do, and see what others want to do , and they can work out a plan to get it all done, keeping in mind along the way that preferences change, and the plan could change at any time, as well. Flexibility is a virtue!

If a parent has a great theory about why the family should all get dressed and go out to do many interesting things, the kids might very well be willing to get dressed and get on with doing the many interesting things. If they are being forced to get dressed when they don't want to, to do things they don't want to do, I can understand the avoidance tactics. Maybe some kids want to go in their jammies. Maybe some would rather stay home with a babysitter or relative or go to the neighbor's while the rest of the family goes out. Maybe they would rather go out in the afternoon than in the morning. Maybe they'd like to stay home all day and have friends visit. EAch person has their own idea about what they want to do, and to ignore that and push one's own agenda upon unwilling people is wrong, whether it is parent and child or boss and employee or government and citizen--- ok, I'm getting off track TCS is about the relationship between parent and child (though there are other lists that talk about the further implications of TCS theory).

" They aren't doing anything, so having to stop isn't a problem."

This is totally an assumption, and quite likely to be wrong and is anyway disrespectful. Check out the college PhD professor in hir office, feet up on the desk, gazing out the window. Doing nothing? Probably not! I would prefer to err on the side of assuming that any person is doing something (in their mind), whether or not I can tell what that is from observing them. And that whatever they are doing is very important to them, and I will tentatively ask to be excused, and is this a good time to talk about something? Or will you let me know when it is a good time?

"They just sit there and ingore me, or go the opposite direction from the bedroom."

Sometimes when people think they are being ignored, they actually have not been heard because the person is busy concentrating on something else. This happens to me, when I am busy thinking about something, and I have observed it happening in others. Again, assumptions can get in the way of treating people respectfully.

If a parent does a lot of controling of things that are not their business- things that any autonomous person should have control of their own self, like when to get dressed and what to put on, when and what to eat, when to sleep, and so on, then I can see where the victims of the intended control might try to avoid that controller.

" I have to ask them several times to come and get dressed. Then we have the whole clothing issues... "

How to change this situation? I think a parent has to become convinced in their own mind that coercion is not right. It is not about results, about finding a method of dealing with children that 'works' so as to produce an obedient child or any other sort of child product. TCS is a philosophy about how to live together in a family non-coercively. It is about the right way to treat people. About non-coercive ways to resolve conflict. About how people learn.

A parent who wants to change the way they interact with their children so that they are dealing with each other non-coercively, would want to apologize to their children for all the coercion they have so far visited upon them. They could explain that they are trying to change their ways, and this is a process, this learning how to live together and solve problems that arise in a non-coercive way, and enlist the children's help in identifying coercion as it happens and then in finding common preferences when conflict does arise. And they would continue to apologize for using coercion, when they fail to find non-coercive solutions, and talk about the failures and figure out better ways for the next situation.

Respect. "Can you buckle your seat belt, or would you like help?' 'If you get tired of carrying your toy, I'll put it in my pocket so you don't lose it' 'If you take your toy into this store, they might think you didn't pay for it when you leave, because they sell that toy here, and we don't want to have to pay for it again! So maybe it should stay safely in the car? What do you think?' 'How about if we tie a string around the toy and the other end onto your beltloop, so you can't just put it down and forget about it and leave it?'

Food is a huge issue that we all have problems with, I daresay. How can we not pass on our poor food theories? That is an issue for another thread, methinks.

If a parent doesn't trust their young child around streets and traffic, the child might need lots more information. Examining road kill when one runs across it (I'm not saying literally run across it) can be very instructional though only if the child wants to look at it. Taking a plastic bottle and putting water in it (maybe even color it with food coloring) and parent and child can watch as someone drives a car over it and see what happens to it and talking about these things can help a small child understand about the danger. Ask child how they would like parent to help them stay safe, in case they forget when running around or chasing a ball. A fence between yard and street might be a good idea. Child might be happy to play in back when understanding about these dangers. The solutions will be different for every parent-child relationship depending upon their dynamics and experiences, and the solutions will change frequently too, I'll bet. Flexibility and creativity.

HOpe something here helps, for starters.
post #42 of 589
Thread Starter 
Also, anyone wanting to think about how they talk to their kids and wanting to change it- there was an excellent thread on the TCS list maybe sometime last summer, I think, by the subject name 'changing our language habits' that gave great examples and analysis of the power of language and how we talk to kids. I recommend joining the TCS list and getting the archives, if you are interested in learning more about this.
post #43 of 589
Linda in Arizona,
I'm with you. I'm picking my own shoes out, my own meals, my own whatever, because it has to do with me. I don't mind allowing my son to do the same for himself. It seems to me that allowing my son to coerce me teaches him that what he wants is more important than what others want. By not being coercive, I'm teaching him that each individual should have control over their own life. If I do whatever he says, then I am teaching him that he has control over my life. I assume he will transfer that to others also. Little dictator is a good description of that person I imagine him becoming.
Has anyone read Thomas Gordon's Parent Effectiveness Training? I love that book because it talks about working together to meet everyone's needs. Using consensus rather than coercion. That's what I am trying to achieve.
post #44 of 589
Thread Starter 
Linda in Arizona wrote:

"I'm not interested in raising little pint size dictators who think that want they want is MORE important than what other people want. I am working to raise my kids to know that what they want is AS important as what other people want. "

Er, right, the dictators who think that what they want is more important than what other people want are, uh, parents!

So, does a child have the same responsibility to meet a stranger's need as to meet their own?

echoing that sentiment is mama joy:

"I'm picking my own shoes out, my own meals, my own whatever, because it has to do with me. I don't mind allowing my son to do the same for himself. "

And if a parent did mind 'allowing' their child to choose their own clothes, food, etc, then...tough, eh? Kids don't have any inherent rights? And if the child chooses food or clothing or ways of spending their time that the parent does not agree with? What then?

The language of 'allowing' exposes where the power lies in the parent-child relationship- with the parent, of course. That is the conventional, society-sanctioned way.

Parents have a unique responsibility in the relationship with their child/ren. They are responsible for their children's existence, in the deepest sense. So it is also their responsibility to help their child/ren to grow and learn about their world. The parents have the access to the world, the ability to access the resources of the world, along with having the experience and knowledge of how to operate in the world, so if the parents are not willing to lay their knowledge and access and experience at the feet of their child in order to help the child get what they want in life, the child is stuck with being dependent upon the good graces of what their parent will 'allow' them.

Kids are not able to go out and get their own red or white or black shoes. If they want the red ones, and the parent will only allow the white ones, the child's autonomy suffers and coercion wins the day.

If it is not right for child to tell parent what color shoes to wear, it is not right for parent to tell child what color shoes to wear.

I agree that children's preferences are every bit as important as the parent's preferences. Finding common preferences is a great conflict resolution skill that helps each person involved get their needs respected and met. But there are some things that the decision is really up to the child and a parent should stay out of, beyond offering advice if it is wanted. What goes on or in a person's body, and what is done to one's body, is all morally within that person's right to say. No matter what their age.
post #45 of 589
Maybe you misunderstood me, but I don't interfere with my son's choices for himself. He just doesn't make decisions for me.
post #46 of 589
Thanks everybody, for turning this into such an interesting discussion. When I started the thread, my concerns were pretty much what Mama Joy and Linda in AZ have been writing. However, as Larsy's and Alexander's responses kept coming in, I have really started to reconsider these concerns.

I think that my child knows I'm different from other people (I'd sure hope so ). When she "dictates" what shoes she wants me to wear, that doesn't mean she'll do that with other people, too. Also, she has only made "comments" about my shoes a few times. It's not an everyday thing. I know she's influenced my shoe choice MUCH less often than the other way around! If she chooses her own shoes five times a week, because that's the only times she cares, the other two days she just lives with my choice. I get to choose my own shoes about 29 times a month, and I don't feel that I'm raising a dictator if I acknowledge her wishes that one other time.

Even then, she's not "making my decisions." She tells me what she wants, and I honor and respect that. If it freezes, I'm not going to "let her decide" that I should go barefoot. I'd try to explain to her why that's not an option, and I'm pretty sure we'd arrive at an agreement. And yes, if necessary I'd give her a choice between my red and black shoes, ignoring the strappy sandals for that day.

Hey, if I wear the very-unmatching shoes, at least people will have something else to look at while we're bf in public!
post #47 of 589
just want to add my comments to the mix

After taking child development classes for several years, I learned that children go through stages - some regardless of parenting styles.

For example tantrums due to frustrations at 18months to 5 yrs
tantrums due to control issues from 2-4 years
calling everything mine or ownership issues from 3-7 years
privacy issues from 5-19 years

Knowing this, I know that my style of parenting will not determine IF tantrums happen, but how they get resolved. That is what is important after all.

And if you have a bad day and get upset and raise your voice, then apologize and that in itself is also a learning example for your child.

I believe in teaching my children respect, but they due must be respected. respect does not mean spoil -
post #48 of 589
Well I practice AP but not TCS (a little too lax for my liking!) and I do not think it's a luxury. I am a SAHM, yes, but we do not have a high income at all. My husband makes 31000 a year and we have a mortgage and two vehicles. You do the math! AP is the easier way to parent in the long run I think, at least if you TRULY want whats best for your children. How can anyone truly think spanking and yelling is best for their children? Sure it's a knee-jerk reaction (emphasis on the the jerk) but it isn't best. How does it take more time to hug your child and say "I realize you really wanted that toy but someome else is playing with it right now. Why don't we find you something just as nice to play with?" That is easier IMO than smacking the kid for grabbing a toy. In the long run detachment parenting costs you more time as your kids end up with discipline problems and many other problems. So you end up having to take time off work to go to teacher's conferences and you can't get the house clean because the kids are little hellions who won't listen to you. Nope AP isn't a luxury, I think the other is a luxury - the luxury of sounding off and acting like a child yourself whenever you feel like it. It's time to grow up people!
post #49 of 589
Heavenly, I love your post! I, too, think that in the long run it is much easier this way. I think it is sort of funny (and sort of sad) when people tell me I can "get away" with postive discipline because my kids are so "easy." It is much easier to parent kids who know they are unconditionally loved and who feel good about themselves.
post #50 of 589
is it possible to get the archives without being on the TCS list? or can i access them from the babies toddlers list that i am on? i didn't like sorting through the many messages of the TCS list and am reluctant to sign up again.
post #51 of 589
If you are happy having your child tell you what to wear and that is what feels right to you, then you should do so.

I have 2 kids, so if I let them decide what other people got to wear, they could argue about what I wear and agrue about what they other one wears. This would just be a silly waste of time, add a great deal of stress to our days, and we would most likely never be able to leave the house again. So we all pick out our own clothes.

On things that affect all of us (to go to park or stay home, which board game to play, what book to read next), we talk about it and come to an agreement. Considering that when my kids have a conflict between themselves, they can usually talk it out and figure out something that works for both of them, you'll have to excuse me if I think that I'm doing is working just fine.
post #52 of 589
it's funny, i agree with all you said except for paranthetically when you said TCS was "too lax". i just wanted to defend TCS parents. they are generally respectful and always there with their children to advise and help their children to get what they want......i have been reading about this recently.....it seems that TCS often gets confused with "laissez-faire" parenting, and that is really not the case. do you feel that children need to be coerced in order for their parents to be truly present?
post #53 of 589
Thanks Linda,

I truly believe you're doing a great job. Your kids reaching an agreement on video vs. PBS sounded excellent.

I think agreements are what we all strive for in our homes - agreements on my shoe color, dd's diaper change, and where we go at what time.

I just really love input. I love it from dd when I'm putting on shoes, and from all those other mamas and daddies when I read or write on these boards!

post #54 of 589

Re: Need TCS advice

Originally posted by Paulab52
Larsy or anyone, can you help me out....
please don't slam me. I'm truely interested in your opinion. I've read the website, but I'm confused.
No-one is going to slam you. This is all about "non-coersion"!!!

But anyway. How old are your kids? How many of them. Who is the worst, and what really pisses you off?
Good examples though. I can get back to you when I have more details.

Can you give more examples? That would give more meat to give a flavor in the answers

post #55 of 589
Ok. I have an admission to make!

Until I met larcy (as suzan), I had never heard of TCS either! In fact, I have not even checked past the first page on their site!

The reason for this is that is that larsy's view on these boards so intersects with mine (though the orogine is different) that I take it as read that I'll intersect with most of www.tcs.ac/

The ax I grind is for a simple humanity and the defence of a child's voice and world view that is little understood, because we as adults take our own W/V so much for granted.

Having admitted all that, I will always try to back up my "fly by the seat of my pants" style parenting with logic and fairness.


That concept turns out to be a peculiarity of English culture that is still found and practiced in counties that have found their own democratic roots in English common law.

It's a rare and precious thing, easily lost it seems to me, and in a way, we have a duty both as parents and as fellow humans to those yet unborne, to encourage a cradle able to hold all that is best about humanity such that they can move beyond us, and the mayhem we find in the world.

Sorry. I find myself explaining what drives me instead of answering the post. Now I'm out of time and have to put the babe to bed and get back to work!!!

I'll catch this thread later though.

post #56 of 589
I think that parents in "lower" socio-economic strata may be less likely to come across AP and TCS information. For example, I saw my first issue of Mothering in the health food store. With my first child, I read more mainstream magazines and those formula-sponsored rags in the OB/GYN waiting room. So unless one is fortunate enough to have had a gentle upbringing, one may not even consider the principles of AP and TCS. However, OTOH, in many developing countries, breastfeeding, feeding-on-cue and cosleeping are the norm and children are treated gently and valued very highly. I think a mother's love is universal, but that is not to say that societal norms don't "mess with it."

As far as putting these principles into action goes, I sometimes agree that stress is a big factor. Despite unbelievable financial pressures since the birth of my daughter, I have tried my best to put AP into practice. At times I envision myself parenting much better, if only all the other problems would just vanish! I guess it all comes down to 1) AWARENESS and 2) the decision to make an honest effort to put that awareness into action.

Hopefully I haven't strayed TOO far off the topic here.
post #57 of 589
Thread Starter 
I don't think of TCS as a luxury, but as a necessity. Certainly, survival is a priority, but even as we are hauling water and picking berries and grinding the corn, we are interacting with our children and how we interact is the issue. We are not living on a tribal level, where survival has been linked to strict tradition. We are living in a society where problems are solved by creativity. Being able to think clearly and learn are essential. Coercion gets in the way of thinking clearly and learning, so non-coercive relationships are optimal at this point in our evolution, imo.

Check out the movie 'It's a Beautiful Life' - I'm pretty sure that is the name of it, an Italian film about a guy and his son in a WWII concentration camp, and how this guy keeps his kid safe, using great creativity. It's a great flick, thought provoking. Talk about optimism in the face of difficult life situations!

Erika wrote:

"From this experience I wonder whether authoritarian/punitive parenting is really a function of time and stress rather than attitude toward children."

Oh, no, I think it is first and foremost an *attitude* or a paradigm, one's vision of the world and how best to get what one wants in the world. When a person approaches life from a TCS point of view (I'll talk about TCS, as I don't think that AP is a coherent philosophy that excludes authoritarian beliefs), the problems of time and stress are assumed to have a solution- not that figuring out the solution is easy, but it is out there and can be found. I think the TCS paradigm opens a person to a larger pool of solutions.

"Certainly there is a component of learned behavior – we tend to parent the way we were parented unless we make an effort to change. But is it possible to AP/TCS if you are a single parent working two minimum wage jobs to make ends meet – or two parents in the same situation – or a homeless mom trying to figure out how to get shelter and food for her family? Don’t AP and TCS take a certain amount of creativity and time? "

Yes. In the midst of the time restraints and the frustrations and worries, a parent can become aware of the elements fo the situations that are causing problems- maybe, just little ones- and finding solutions for those problems opens the way to finding solutions to larger ones.

If a single parent is working two jobs, they can still be on their child's side in life. They can work together to figure out how they can get what they want, and help each other. If child doesn't like their childcare arrangements, others can be researched and a better situation found. The more people they can talk to and get ideas from on how to solve problems, the better. The single parent can take hirself seriously, and hir child/ren. They can define their wants and needs, and lay out their resources of time and money and earning power and people available to help, and keep looking for common preferences. If they don't like the way their life is right now, they can identify the things they want to change, and keep working on finding ways to change those things. I've heard it said that by changing just one little thing, great things can happen.
post #58 of 589
Thread Starter 

about privacy

Eek, ack, er... I'd just like to say a word about privacy. Part of TCS is taking people's privacy seriously. When people post personal details about their children to a public list that thousands of people (at least) have access to, it is a gross violation of the children's privacy. It is one thing for a parent to post anything they want about their own self- they have the right to do so. But to post such details that a child would be able to recognize their self if they read it (and it is a distinct possibility that archived posts would be available to anyone including the children in the future) and feel embarrassed and violated and no small amount of coercion- I see that as a violation of privacy as well as contributing to the objectification of children in parent's minds.

I realize this is not a mainstream view, that parents are used to talking about children like possessions, without regards to the child's right to privacy, but this is the wrong thing to do. Isn't there something in the posting guidelines or mission statement or whatever they call it for this website, about not posting information that violates people's privacy? I see that guideline being violated constantly on this board.

So, Alexander, when you ask for more details, I must protest. It is not necessary to discuss any particular child's life on a public board. I urge posters here to think about writing hypothetically, and not embarrassing their children. Even if a kid says, yeah, sure, you can write about that, they might change their mind about that in a minute or a day or a year, and there it will be.

Part of taking children seriously is not violating their privacy on a public board. (did I mention that already?)
post #59 of 589
Thread Starter 

You could subscribe to the TCS and set yourself to nomail so that you don't get the daily posts- or you could just get a digest. I think you could still access the archives even if you are set nomail (I could be wrong about that, but you could try it and see!)
post #60 of 589
Thank you all for your responses!

It has been very helpful to me to read the different opinions on this issue. Besides bringing this up as a discussion/debate topic, I also had a specific agenda here - trying to figure out what happened to ME and why I melted down under pressure.

I think several points that have been made were particularly relevant to my situation - 1) I realize now that I don't deal with stress well, and 2) it is an attitude problem.

It was hard for me to figure this out because AP was so easy when dd was young even though we were under incredible stress - living on $10,000/year. So why now that we are homeowners living a comfortable existence did I melt down? At first I attributed it to the stress of feeling very ill, etc, but now I think that's where attitude came in.. AP was easy for me while dd was under 3, because I never believed it possible for children that age to "misbehave" - I didn't consider tantrum-type behavior or other baby/toddler stuff "misbehavior" and thus I never felt the need to resort to punishment. But I think my view of her changed once she could legitimately challenge my agenda.

But there is still one detail that links this stuff to middle class existence in my mind: we had never owned a car before, but after the new baby arrived, I was really breaking under the strain of getting the older child to walk to doctor's appointments, grocery stores, or even home from friend's houses, at a pace that exceeded .5 mile/hour. Quite honestly, all of the ugly moments I had were about getting her to walk somewhere we needed to go (such as an appointment, or home for supper, or to buy food so there would actually be some when we got home) when she didn't feel like going (yes, coercion). I thought if we had been hunter/gatherers she could have straggled behind and then run to catch up when she was ready, but with modern roads etc it just wasn't a safe option. So we got a car and my life became magically easier in many regards. I would argue that it's a lot easier to run errands or get to appointments without coercion using a car than it is to do it all on foot....

or do you think I'm setting up a straw person here?
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