or Connect
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Childhood and Beyond › Gentle Discipline › Am I the only one who wasn't thrilled with the book Unconditional Parenting?
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Am I the only one who wasn't thrilled with the book Unconditional Parenting? - Page 6

post #101 of 117
yah mama g, that's true.
post #102 of 117
Hope you don't mind me jumping in, but I just wanted to say that I think sledg spoke some words of wisdom there. I agree 100% that people should get more exposure to different parenting skills, but, like you said, most people are learning their parenting from magazines, books, and people that are, at the end of the day, motivated by profit. Hell, probably even Alfie Kohn wants to make some money. And Parenting magazine, which I subscribe to, : is like Cosmopolitan for mothers, all about setting you up by telling you what you're doing wrong and how you're lacking, and then "helping" you with a handy-dandy list of answers, which are somehow usually a round number. Because there really are only 10 different ways to teach your baby to sleep.

I think Mamaganoush is right, mothers shouldn't overthink every detail, but it's also hard to know what to do, and to rely on instinct, especially if you're deviating greatly from how you were parented, because the information about doing it differently is so questionable. I've had people say to me, "Oh yeah, we're getting ready to Ferberize, you have to Ferberize." Like the pp said, they never even thought about it, that's just what you do. Even AP moms are like that, I've noticed. They're making themselves miserable because they have to "whatever" and it just doesn't work for their child. And I definitely am not blaming any mom for this, I do it too. It's so hard not to, because it's hard to know what else to do. There's no cultural wisdom to draw on, no elders to go and discuss it with. Most of the time when I call my mom to ask her advice, she gives me an answer that I want to laugh at. And when my granny was alive and I talked to her about parenting, it was like we had grown up on different planets.

Whoo! Sorry for the rant!
post #103 of 117
Quote:
Originally Posted by sledg
As far as UP goes, I think Kohn has some great ideas that our society really could stand to think about. I would love to see behaviorism lose it's hold on our culture. But I think Kohn is one of those who overthinks parenting, though maybe it's just his writing style. I don't think that's a mischaracterization, I think it's how I perceived it and interpreted it.
That's one of my problems with UP. We don't use time outs or punishment nor indeed most of the things Kohn recommends against, yet I am still turned off by this book. I recently finished Hold on to Your Kids. It covers much of the same territory, but it deals with parenting from the inside and the nurturing of the parents relationship with their children. Hold on to Your Kids is about parenting from the heart and it spoke to me deeply. Kohn comes off to me as advocating parenting with the head (this study says this is bad, that study says that is bad.. don't do this or that) and about analyzing what's on the surface... reactive rather than intuitive. He further strikes me as someone who is very rigid in his beliefs and stands on his principles alone, never willing to admit that his generalizations don't apply to all people and situations.
post #104 of 117
Okay I finally got through this thread, and I haven't read the book yet (it's been sitting on my nightstand for awhile now) but I read some articles he wrote and a couple points confused me.

I've always felt uncomfortable saying anything along the lines of "ooh that makes kitty so happy when you pet him gently" because I thought you weren't supposed to make them feel responsible for someone else's happiness. Saying "it makes me sad when you hit me" makes me feel manipulative way more than saying "I'm proud of you for being so gentle."

He also said something along the lines of, why would you praise something to encourage repeats of that behavior, because it's like you have no faith in them in ever repeating it. Well, sometimes my son does accomplish something that is quite impressive for his age, or for him, and if he manages to sit quietly and play through a half hour wait at the pediatrician's office, I'm impressed and wouldn't mind if he repeated it.

I don't know, what I'm getting from this thread is that he has some good points about looking at how much we praise and why we do it. But I think there's merit to the idea that you can feel like you can't do anything right. I'm guessing the people out there who are shouting out "GOOD SHARING!" if the kid throws a morsel of food at the dog are not the parents reading this book. Instead it's probably the parents who are careful to offer specific and attentive praise, and then they get to worry that there's something wrong with that, too.

Without having read much of him yet, I'm going to also boldly add that I think so many writers of parenting books have some really good ideas, and then package them up in a book and make the points more of a giant exaggerated theory (i.e. praise= bad). Maybe he doesn't. I'll definietly check him out still. I'm just wary these days. I imagine I'll be partly defensive, partly stuimulated, and partly annoyed.
post #105 of 117
bumpety bump bump.
No one wants to comment on the whole "that makes him happy" idea as manipulative? Does Kohn get more into that? Maybe I'm misunderstanding him from just reading a short article.
post #106 of 117
Yeah I always thoght it was a double standard too.
We are supposed to encourage empathy rather than guilt.
"See how hitting your brother makes him angry and sad. Doesnt it hurt to be hit? What do you think you can do to make him feel better."
Is the kind of comment we are encouraged to make rather than "hitting is not nice"
But we are discouraged from saying "hitting me makes me angry" because it makes them responsible for our feelings.
Like it is ok to say they are responsible for some peoples feelings but parents feeligns dont count.
Either the things we do affect the feelings of others or they dont. It is just contrived and manipulative to do it one way for some situations but not for others. Especially when it is true. 'it makes me angry when you pull my hair" is just as legitimate as "it makes the cat angry when you pull his tail"

joline
post #107 of 117
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hazelnut
bumpety bump bump.
No one wants to comment on the whole "that makes him happy" idea as manipulative? Does Kohn get more into that? Maybe I'm misunderstanding him from just reading a short article.
this is interesting. where is the line between showing how we impact others, and making us 'responsible' for how others feel.

when dd willingly shares with her baby brother, i say 'look how happy he is, smiling, playing with the toy'.

if she pushes him, i say 'look how sad he is. he is crying. his head hurts.'

i am kind of thinking as i am writing.

yes, this does imply that 'she made him happy' or 'she made him sad'. well, this is true. he is reacting to her actions, she had an impact on him.

is she responsible for his feelings? hm, somewhat i guess (fact). she contributed to his feelings.

i guess this is the truth -- we do impact on how others feel. but how to make sure she does not feel OVERLY responsible? or guilty? i don't know.

i do not feel this is manipulative per se. maybe it is just in the wording, but i feel there is a difference between you MADE him sad, and he is sad, though the actual distintion in terms of behaviours is not clear.

i still prefer pointiting out how her actions affect others, rather than giving her praise in terms of 'good girl'. i feel it is LESS manipulative.

when you praise directly, you have a goal -- repeat of the behaviour, mainly. otherwise you would not praise -- you want something from that child. it is more disconnected from the act of sharing, for example. you share, you get 'a cookie'. what is the relation? but if you share and you see someone happy, it is directly connected to your behaviour.

with the direct praise you are even more so made responsible for others' feelings. you share, your mom seems ecstatic, but there is no connection to the behaviour. so the connection is between your action and the praise, not between your action and the direct result of your action.

ah, not sure if this makes any sense. i will post it anyway. curious what others have to comment.
post #108 of 117
Quote:
when you praise directly, you have a goal -- repeat of the behaviour, mainly. otherwise you would not praise
THis is absolutely uneqivocally untrue.
Praise is an expression of delight. Perhaps some do contrive praise to fulfill another purpose, but that is like saying the purpose of smiling is to get somebody to smile back.
Maybe some people do that. But some people just smile because they are happy.
post #109 of 117
Quote: "The only expert on my child is me."

***I believe Alfie Kohn's point is that this is an erroneous belief. The only expert on any child is himself. The book's premise is the child's own perception of their parenting is what is relevant, not the parent's intent. Therefore, his "how to" advice is to celebrate your child's own expertise about himself by listening to him and honoring his autonomy without subjugating it to behavior modification toward the parent's intended goals.

That "mama doesn't know best". This paradigm shift does challenge the conventional "wisdom", even on MDC.

Pat

Edited not to attribute quote to any one person.
post #110 of 117
Quote:
Originally Posted by scubamama
The only expert on any child is himself. The book's premise is the child's own perception of their parenting is what is relevant, not the parent's intent. Therefore, his "how to" advice is to celebrate your child's own expertise about himself by listening to him and honoring his autonomy without subjugating it to behavior modification toward the parent's intended goals.

Pat
Oh, well said, well said.
post #111 of 117
:
post #112 of 117
Hhmm, that's interesting Anna. I don't really have anything interesting to say except that I can kind of see his point more now. I do disagree on the same point Johub did- I think I often praise just because I'm proud of him, or because I think it feels good to hear deserved praise and I want him to feel good about himself. That's where I think maybe the criticism of overpraising maybe shouldn't be extended to any genuine praise from a well-meaning, attentive parent. But I can see how it probably often gets reduced to pure manipulation, especially when people are bent on treating kids a little too much like little soldiers. I don't always think encouraging behavior through praise is inherently wrong at times either, but I'm thinking about what you said. I think the feelings thing can be overdone as well, but I suppose it's also beneficial at times, especially when positive (i.e. see how happy he is now).
Johub, sometimes I think it sounds contrived because it is a little too contrived. I seek suggestions, but at the same time I dislike when any parenting advice person is extremely specific about what is OK and what is not acceptable.
post #113 of 117
Maybe my memory is off , but I just can't remember coming away from any of the chapters with the message that, as parents, we are not to tell a child how their behavior influences us.

I don't see a problem with telling my child (or anyone, for that matter) how their behavior impacts me. I am not assigning fixed traits (you are bad) or even attributing malintent if I say "When you hit me, it hurts and I feel angry" . Instead, I am teaching my child a valuable lesson - that we affect others through our actions.

Is this the same as saying "when you share your special doll with your sister, she is smiling! She seems to feel happy!" ? Yes, similar. Again, I am not assigning fixed traits (i.e. you are good, you are worthy because you share), I am showing her what may not be clear to her at this age - that she affects others.

Hmm... I'm not sure I'm making much sense tonight, but this is my little stream of consciousness
post #114 of 117
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hazelnut
Johub, sometimes I think it sounds contrived because it is a little too contrived. I seek suggestions, but at the same time I dislike when any parenting advice person is extremely specific about what is OK and what is not acceptable.
Yes but it is every so much easier to set ourselves the standard to be emotionally honest with our children and not to misuse love, affection and praise to get what we want.
Saying you should not praise a child (because some use praise to manipulate their children) is equivalent to saying that you should not show affection to your child because some use displays of affection to manipulate their children.
If you are emotionally honest and speak from the heart you arent going to go wrong. If you stop yourself from saying what comes naturally and joyfully because somebody once wrote a book that it was bad to say those things, THAT is what is contrived.

Joline
post #115 of 117
Maybe I sound like I'm all over the place, but i agree with you, and that was one thing I was trying to say, though probably didn't do well. I think Kohn might have some good points, but is possibly taking it a bit far and making people who are probably using less manipulative, genuine praise doubt themselves. I'm starting to see how some praise is manipulative, but I don't think praise is bad when it's not doled out by the megaton load. I like it mixed up with the genuine attentive observations he talks about (which comes naturally to me, and I'm no expert, so I don't think it's a terribly revolutionary idea on his part.)

Again, I'm only going from articles I read and just discussing the ideas in general here, and not exactly the merit of the book itself.
post #116 of 117
Quote:
Originally Posted by johub
Yes but it is every so much easier to set ourselves the standard to be emotionally honest with our children and not to misuse love, affection and praise to get what we want.
Jumping in again.

Just wanted to say I totally agree with this. I think we should give children more credit. They can sort through the BS, at 2.5 my dd already senses false praise, and it just pushes her the other way. But she knows when we mean it.

Also, we all agree you should avoid negative statements, like, "Throwing that food on the floor was very naughty," right? Because they might internalize it, right? They'll think, "What I did was naughty, I must be naughty, I'm worthless."

Well, why doesn't this work the other way? For example, "You did a good job of cleaning up that milk you spilled."

What does the child think?

"My mom only loves me because I can clean up milk."

or maybe...

"I'm good at cleaning things up. I can solve problems when I make a mistake. I'm capable."

I might be convoluting things a bit for the sake of argument here, but I just don't think anyone's going to be any worse off if you just said, "Good job!" in reference to the cleaning of the milk. Your child can read between the lines, they know what you're referring to.
post #117 of 117
Quote:
Originally Posted by natensarah
I might be convoluting things a bit for the sake of argument here, but I just don't think anyone's going to be any worse off if you just said, "Good job!" in reference to the cleaning of the milk. Your child can read between the lines, they know what you're referring to.
I agree 100%.

Good job, Sarah! I always enjoy your posts.



~Nay
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Gentle Discipline
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Childhood and Beyond › Gentle Discipline › Am I the only one who wasn't thrilled with the book Unconditional Parenting?