or Connect
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Childhood and Beyond › Gentle Discipline › You HAVE to do things... (spin-off)
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

You HAVE to do things... (spin-off)

post #1 of 434
Thread Starter 
I realize that this is being discussed in a few threads as a result of discussions of discipline so I wanted to create another thread so we could all discuss this topic.

I see a lot of people saying things like their children have to learn about the "real world" and that sometimes we all HAVE to do things, that we HAVE to obey certain rules, that we HAVE to learn and teach our children how the world works and various other references that to me, are basically justifications for there being times where we HAVE to be punitive.

I disagree. I feel that life is a choice. I feel that there is nothing in this world that I am doing because I have to do, but rather, the things I do or don't do are all consentual choices on my part directly related to the battles I choose, the way I choose to live, the comforts I am not willing to give up, the path I have chosen to take, the part I want to play in society.

I strive to teach my daughter that nothing she does or doesn't do is forced. I strive to teach her that by making certain choices, she will either be benefiting herself and her fellow (wo)man, or that it will be to the detriment of herself and her fellow (wo)man. I want to empower her, with my gentle guidance and love, to grow to ditinguish between choices that will benefit her and others or hurt her and others -- trusting, that people in general don't want to make choices that are going to hurt them. I trust that my daughter will grow to understand that doing kind deeds and treating herself and others with love and respect will result in a fufilled feeling, and not respecting herself or others, not loving herself or others, doing unkind things, will result in a feeling of unfullfillment inside. To me, this is just common sense.

I think the idea that we "have" to do certain things creates a society of blame and martyrdom. It makes it easy to pass our choices on to other people, or to wallow in our own self pity.

As this relates to parenting, I think that I am doing my daughter a service in attempting to create a completely consentual relationship, one not based on power, or punishment, or force. If all she knows is this, what is the likelyhood that she will allow someone to abuse her, or mistreat her? What is the likelyhood that she will blindly follow someone else's order without question, that she will allow those around her to mistreat others?

It has been very hard for me to unteach myself the things I have been taught. I did NOT grow up in an AP or GD home. It was a VERY punitive, very "parents are the boss", a very "we are not equal" type home -- and even though I know my parents love me, it is hard to not still have resentment at all the ways I feel they did my siblings and I a disservice.

No one has a perfect childhood. As much as we try, no one has it perfect, that is not reality. However, I will be damned if my daughter takes 10 years like I have, to heal from her childhood.

The very act of her being alive, in our house, was not a choice she made. She didn't choose any of it. She is basically "stuck" with us until she moves out. My goal for her as she grows, to feel as if she had had a choice, she would have chosen us.

The act of me bringing her into the world doesn't give me authority over her choices and her body, and her life. Yes, I will happily provide a roof, clothing, food, guidance, love, acceptance, understanding, a soft place to fall -- I love being her mom and I want her to know that we are responsible for her safety and well-being... but that her body, mind, heart and spirit are her own.

She doesn't "have" to do anything, just as I don't. Or any of us.

Okay, bring on the "what if's" .....

"what if you are in a parking lot and your child doesn't want to get into the car seat and she is screaming, are you going to sleep in the car?".... and so on...
post #2 of 434
Thanks for posting this. I have been thinking about this a lot, and reading a lot of the interesting discussion here on the topic. I also recently read Unconditional Parenting.

In theory, I totally agree with what you have written and I agree that life is full of choices and learning to toe the line is not what I want my child to learn from me. My problem is that the day to day logistics of maintaing that kind of relationship with a toddler has been impossible for my family.

I didn't see how old your daughter is, but my feeling is that non-coercive parenting is something that is on my radar now and will become more central to my parenting style as my son gets older and more verbal.

For now, I find the logistics to be unworkable. Yes, there are many many things that I can compromise, and many choices that my son can make rather than having me arbitrarily decide. But I can't do that all day long every single day in every situation. Sometimes if he really doesn't want to leave the park, then we can stay an extra half hour. But sometimes I have to go to work or I have an appointment or I'm just really freaking tired and I need to balance his desire to stay with my desire to leave.

I guess balance is what I find difficult to achieve in trying to parent a toddler non-coercively. Whenever someone posts here asking for suggestions on how to get their kid to do something or stop tantruming or whatever, there are almost always half a dozen replies about how the parent shouldn't be trying to get the kid to do whatever it was in the first place--"Why do you have to leave the park right then?" "Why does your toddler have to get into his car seat?" etc. I think that most people would acknowledge that at least occasionally you really do have to do something (ie. if you really have to go to the bathroom or someone is ill, etc), but I think that even in an ordinary situation the parents wishes and preferences should also be considered, equally with the child's.

To me, that is the bigger lesson here. Not that my child needs to obey my rules because I said so and I'm the boss, but that he needs to understand that in a relationship, there are two people and to be considerate of the other person's needs and preferences. Right now, he is too young for that. For example, he would like to nurse probably for an hour and a half every night to go to sleep. After about 40 minutes I usually tell him "Mama's breasts hurt, they need a break. Lets sing a song instead" etc. And he would choose to continue to nurse even so...because he's 2. So I take him off, and he cries for a few minutes, and then we sing a song and he falls asleep. There are a lot of things that I can justify forcing him to do because if I don't, his actions will so negatively impact me/his father/the dog etc and I just don't think he's old enough yet to understand that.

Incidentally, I must say that I really don't see that he is any less happy overall with me laying down the law a little bit more often, which I've been doing lately. I talked to a friend who recently weaned her three year old. When I asked her how she did it, she said "I just realized that it was ok to say no sometimes." I've kept that phrase in my head and I really think that it has helped me to find more balance in my relationship with my son.

I really enjoy these threads and I look forward to hearing other's thoughts on the subject.

Jessi
post #3 of 434
Quote:
Originally Posted by captain crunchy
The very act of her being alive, in our house, was not a choice she made. She didn't choose any of it. She is basically "stuck" with us until she moves out. My goal for her as she grows, to feel as if she had had a choice, she would have chosen us.

The act of me bringing her into the world doesn't give me authority over her choices and her body, and her life. Yes, I will happily provide a roof, clothing, food, guidance, love, acceptance, understanding, a soft place to fall -- I love being her mom and I want her to know that we are responsible for her safety and well-being... but that her body, mind, heart and spirit are her own.

...
Hmm, I wonder if our vastly different (yet not so vast as they are more different in "theory" than practice) parenting philosophies perhaps are related to vastly different theories of life itself.
I believe with all my heart and soul. In fact I would go so far as to say "I know" my children chose me. I did not choose them. I did not create them in so much as they chose me and came into the world through me.
So you think all of life is choices but she did nto choose you and is "stuck" with you.
WHile I think my children actively chose me, knowing me and what I had to offer them as a parent. Knowing what they wanted or needed from their childhood and knowing what I would provide.
I believe they knew what kind of guidance I was able and willing to offer and how much love I have to offer them.
And because my children chose me out of trust that I will care for and provide for and teach them, I do have a responsibility and even 'authority' over their bodies and lives at a very young age. This is an authority I believe they chose to entrust in me for safekeeping until they were old enough to claim it for themselves. Like a sacred trust.
I agree with everything in the end of the paragraph except to add that as guardians of their safety and well being I sometimes have to guide their bodies and instruct their minds and fill their hearts and nurture their spirits.

Joline
post #4 of 434
Thread Starter 
When I said she was "stuck" with us, I was being tongue in cheek...I'm sorry you misinterpreted that.

Reading your posts, we do have vastly different views in some areas, and in some areas we agree...that's cool...


I still maintain that it is not my job, nor my place to "control" my child...no matter how *nicely* I am controlling her. That is not to say I will never have to do something she doesn't choose to do, or that she will always get what she wants, or that it will always, in every circumstance be a solution she may have chose. Having said that though, I will never believe that my role as a parent is to show my child where "her place" is...that place being, *under* me.
post #5 of 434
Quote:
Originally Posted by captain crunchy
I still maintain that it is not my job, nor my place to "control" my child...no matter how *nicely* I am controlling her. That is not to say I will never have to do something she doesn't choose to do, or that she will always get what she wants, or that it will always, in every circumstance be a solution she may have chose. Having said that though, I will never believe that my role as a parent is to show my child where "her place" is...that place being, *under* me.
Absolutely. I have no interest or stake in trying to convince you othewise. I am certain that you have reached your conclusions on how to parent your child with as much reflection and thought and study as any of us and your choice is only to be respected.

I also will never believe my role as a parent is to show my child where "her place" is either.
It doesnt mean that I do not have to sometimes control my children. But what it does mean is that when I do have to, it is to accomplish the goal and never to prove the above point.
In fact I think it is absolutely absurd that some people even think you have to "show him who's boss" or "where his place is" . Um. Children are BORN helpless and entirely dependant. THey pretty much know from birth where the power is. It is neither kind nor helpful to rub it in.
Joline
post #6 of 434
Quote:
Originally Posted by captain crunchy
No one has a perfect childhood. As much as we try, no one has it perfect, that is not reality. However, I will be damned if my daughter takes 10 years like I have, to heal from her childhood.

The very act of her being alive, in our house, was not a choice she made. She didn't choose any of it. She is basically "stuck" with us until she moves out. My goal for her as she grows, to feel as if she had had a choice, she would have chosen us.

The act of me bringing her into the world doesn't give me authority over her choices and her body, and her life. Yes, I will happily provide a roof, clothing, food, guidance, love, acceptance, understanding, a soft place to fall -- I love being her mom and I want her to know that we are responsible for her safety and well-being... but that her body, mind, heart and spirit are her own.
I am sorry that you had a childhood in which you felt that your body, mind, heart, and spirit were not your own. No boundaries can be as harmful to a child as too many boundaries. I hope that your daughter will help you come to a happy medium of protection and freedom.
post #7 of 434
Thread Starter 
Thanks for your words sapphire, and for your input johub...

I don't want to paint the picture like I had some kind of nightmare childhood. In fact, I am sure it was more similar to many people's childhood than different. Having said that though, I feel that different personality types respond and internalize situations differently -- and while I do believe that hitting and yelling and basically expecting complete compliance is damaging to all children, I feel it is very detremental to a highly sensitive, highly creative child who has a tendency to question authority.

This is a moot point if my child is the type (like my sister) to just obey without question. It is not a weakness of my sister whom I love very much, just kind of part of her natural personality (as a child anyway) --- with her, there were little power struggles, so there were few punishments ...when someone said put on your shoes, she put on her shoes. When someone said time for bed, she got ready for bed. So if my child happens to have the type of personality where she is just generally agreeable in most situations, then I really won't have to worry or think about much as it relates to discipline.

However, if my child is anything like me (and she is already a little spitfire)... it is important to me to embrace that, instead of constantly working against it. It is important to me to really let her know through my words and actions that her opinions matter, her feelings are just as valid as ours, that it is okay to question, okay to choose a different path, that no one is "in charge" of her, but rather, we are working directly with her to create an environment of mutually agreeable solutions. An environment where she is free to be whoever she is, free to make all of her own choices regarding what she wears, eats, when she sleeps, how she learns, and in most cases, where she goes, what she does, how her day is structured.

I firmly believe that when one is treated with kindness and respect, they return it 9 times out of 10.

It is hard for me to envision a situation where my child feels respected when I am the one calling the shots. Some of my favorite teachers in school or bosses at work were the ones who knew the responsibility of their job or role, but never pulled the "trump" card or had to remind me who was "in charge". Some of my least favorite people, are ones that did the opposite.

Mutual respect requires an equal relationship. (or as closely as possible taking into consideration our child's age, capacity for understanding, our responsibility to keep them safe etc)
post #8 of 434
Quote:
Originally Posted by captain crunchy
It is hard for me to envision a situation where my child feels respected when I am the one calling the shots. Some of my favorite teachers in school or bosses at work were the ones who knew the responsibility of their job or role, but never pulled the "trump" card or had to remind me who was "in charge". Some of my least favorite people, are ones that did the opposite.

Mutual respect requires an equal relationship. (or as closely as possible taking into consideration our child's age, capacity for understanding, our responsibility to keep them safe etc)

Envisoin this for example. You want your child to have a healthy breakfast. YOur child wants the ability to choose their own breakfast. You offer yogurt with fruit or scrambled eggs and fruit. Your child feels powerful that they get to choose what they want. Mom feels like she has controlled the situation because she did not offer a banana split. If the child has unlimited choices, he or she might choose the banana split. Mom might not like this but mom is uncomfortable having control over the choice.
But in the above scenario where a child is given choices, the child has power appropriate to his or her age and experience but underlying it is the strategic control of the parent. Mom is calling the shots in the sense that only healthy choices are given. But the child is still respected when the choices are things she likes and she gets to choose what she wants at that moment.
This type of interaction is repeated in all types of circumstances. The child has a reasonable amount of control but it is underpinned by the overall control of the parent.
Joline
post #9 of 434
Thread Starter 
That's where we differ I suppose. Our child is (or will be, she is still only 5 months) allowed to eat anything we have in the house, for any meal. I don't worry about this at all, as we tend to eat very healthy, so it isn't as if she will be reaching for cheetos or banana splits, as we rarely have anything like that in our house.

If however, we happen to have tofutti (vegan ice cream) or tortilla chips (I make them homemade) or whatever else, that may not be "breakfast" food or even the utmost healthy, she is welcome to it for breakfast if she wishes.

You see though, I believe children and people in general are basically creatures of habit, or they find comfort in routine. If from the time she can eat finger foods until the time she can actively choose her own food, we are serving healthy meals, chances are this is what she will prefer -- but if one day she wakes up and says "mama, can I have tofutti for breakfast?" I would let her have tofutti. That will be her choice. The fact that nothing is off limits in our home foodwise, nothing will feel "forbidden" or off limits or like a big old treat that she can't have, or can only have when she finishes her meal, or can't have before a meal, or whatever....limits the novelty of eating tofutti for breakfast every morning. I feel if you take the punishment/reward/consequence/treat dynamic away from children, in this case regarding food, most children will naturally just think "I can have tofutti if I like, no biggie, but today toast sounds good" or whatever...
post #10 of 434
I can respect taht your opinion on this differs.
However I do not think that this means the child in my example feels disrespected, which really was my point that a certain amount of parental control and a child feeling respected can go hand in hand.
You may not choose any amount of control. Swell.
post #11 of 434
Thread Starter 
I woldn't say "no" amount of control. If my child is running towards a busy street, my knee-jerk reaction would probably be to scoop her up, or grab her back, or yell (not at her, but a sort of frantic Stop!) or something...that is control I suppose.

However, things like forcing my child to eat what I think she should eat for breakfast, in my opinion, is not respectful. What if she doesn't want yogurt or whatever else? What if she wants last night's leftovers? Who am I to force her to eat something she doesn't want to, feeling really good that at least I offered her *some* choices? What if those choices weren't acceptable to her?

The reason we don't have a bunch of junk in our house, other than being health concious, is the fact that we don't want to be hypocrites either. I am SO not into the "do as I say not as I do" parenting...so if there are cheetos, she can have cheetos...but there hardly ever is something like that anyway.

The only exception is alcohol, because that is like, ya know, a federal law and I don't want my children being removed from me because they told their friends *mama lets me have beer*....
post #12 of 434
I am curious as to how you will feel allowing your daughter to run your day? You say she will have complete control over her schedule. So, when she wakes up and says she wants to go to the park, will you go? What is you have a scheduled appointment, or a headache, or just flat out don't feel like goig to the park?

I agree with giving children a sence of ownership in their world, and allow my daughter (almost 3) to make may choices. A choice of two outfits for the day, what she wants for snack etc. I, as the parent howeve, set the plan of the day. I take it the consideration of both my childrens wants, our family needs, and my desires as well.

What about when you have 2 kids and they each want something different, but at the same time.

And since you brought it up earlier, what about the car seat situation? What if you have a dentist appointment, which you will be charged for whether you show up or not, and which needs to be scheduled months in advance. What if she doesn't want to get in the seat, or heck, what if she really does not want to see the dentist?

While it sounds good in therory, especially with a child so young and with out many wants and strong opinions, I woulnder how it would really work with a family with older and multiple children.
post #13 of 434
I can see both sides of this story. I used to be firmly in the same camp as johub. I like order. I like to think I know better about when and what dd should eat, when she should sleep, how much TV she should watch, etc..... I felt like I am the adult, I have the experience, and it is my job to "help" dd make healthy choices.

Then......I had a very spirited child. From day one she was not at all interested in my experience or know how. She wants/needs to do what she needs to do and my attempts at manipulating it was completely unsuccessful.

I read all about non-coercive parenting before dd was born. I thought it was completely nuts. I could not imagine "dickering" with an 18 month old to negotiate when we would leave the park. It all seemed like WAY too much work and allowing the child to be very spoiled.

But having a spirited child turned out to be WAY more work than I ever imagined and it turns out that when we are more respectful of her making her own choices and having equal input in our family decisions (when she knows what is going on) has made things MUCH easier. She is only 2.25 years old. But already she understands when I say we need (or actually I propose) to leave the park for an appointment (or something) because I do listen to her input and do what I can to facilitate her choices whenever humanly possible. I can express my needs to her just as she can express her needs to me. And she is already extremely respectful of most people. It is amazing.

I started reading Kohn (with a very preconcieved negative attitude, I might add) when dd was about 18 months and we were in the middle of a non-sleeping tantruming nightmare. I really thought he was nuts. But in desperation I "tried on" some of his principles for a while and that is how we got where we are.

I feel much better about our relationship. it is not roses every day, but the tantrums seriously disappeared the day after I changed my own outlook. Bedtime was an absolute nightmare. I had the idea in my head that to be good parents, dd needed a "bedtime". It never worked and created huge conflict in the entire family every night. everyone was resentful, angry, tired, and exasperated. After thinking on it, dh and I decided that "bedtime" wa snot something dd wanted or needed. We threw the concept out and everyone is MUCH happier. Everyone. At first I was sad to give up our "couple time". But it turned out we only needed "couple time" because we were exhausted and resentful from the 2-3 hour bedtime process every night. Now we have "family time" and everyone is happy. How simple. How I wish I hd figured that out earlier.

I could go on and on about every little thing. Food struggles, clothing, carseats.......on and on and on...... It really is Ok to let your children have sya in these things. Big say. All of the say. It does work out.

It is not perfect. I sometimes revert to my old thinking when things get tough. I feel like yelling "WHY am I even negotiating whether to put the darn shoes on or not...JUST PUT THEM ON ALREADY!!!!!" But every day, I get better and our relationship together gets better and better. I will never be perfect.

I am "type A" 100%. This concept is very very hard for me to "get". But I am very glad that I did. I want dd to have joy in life. I want her to seek joy when she is an adult and not settle for the "I HAVE tos". I feel so free because I have just learned that joy now, at age 30. I grew up in a big "HAVE to" and lived my life that way. I can let that go. I do not want dd to live 30 years of her life that way.
post #14 of 434
I believe the control and disrespect are evident when the child's wish for their own body is disregarded, imo. For instance, when the parent exerts control by limiting an available option or imposing a mandated "choice", especially when this occurs for no life-threatening reason. The use of coercion is disrespectful, imo. Even if the child is told they "have to" do xyz.

Coerce-v: 1. to restrain or dominate by nullifying individual will; 2. to compel to an act or choice; 3. to enforce by force or threat. syn: see FORCE. (Webster's Dictionary, 1972, pg. 160.)

We have had "healthy" food choices freely available in our home and our son has chosen as CaptainCrunchy describes. He might eat a Rice Dream "ice cream" on wheat-free cone for breakfast any time he wishes. Sometimes that is two cones for breakfast, and sometimes it is 1/2 a cone that he has a taste for. There is no "have to" eat xyz before ice cream; so there is no dynamic of limiting or binging created in our home. However, if we are out and he wants an ice cream cone and we haven't eaten dinner, that would be fine too. (Although, since we avoid dairy, I would just explain if they don't have dairy free ice cream. And togehter we would work to find some other creamy sweet that he prefers, or he might prefer to wait until we get home, or he might choose the dairy.) Eating "healthy" alternatives has not been something that he avoids or refuses to do because they are not mandated either. He doesn't "have to" eat something when he doesn't want to. It isn't a power struggle that we have created. I believe making someone eat something they don't want to is disrespectful and disregarding even if it is "for their own good".

But, how would a child who grows up under a coercive paradigm recognize disrespect is the Catch 22 question. It is like fish not being able to perceive water; it is all they know. It took me many years of living with my husband, who is always respectful of me and others, to recognize how disrespected my individual will as a child was. In childhood, I was told you "have to"; but I objected to the dissidence of being coerced to comply. And my awareness of being treated with disrespect grew as I experienced respect from teachers and others. The most profound experience was when I was employed, I was respected as an individual. Even though jobs had responsibilities, I still didn't "have to" do the job. I had a choice, unlike "having to" under the coercive 'directed compliance' of childhood.

No, Respect does not occur when one person controls another against their will, imo. Granted, there are plenty of parenting paradigms which actively endeavor to break a child's will. Coercive parenting to gain compliance or obedience may not be seeking to break a child's will, but it still disregards, disrespects and is destructive of her will, in my own personal experience. At least until I could rebel and I didn't "have to" anymore.

Pat
post #15 of 434
Ditto Yoppervegan!
post #16 of 434
Thread Starter 
Quote:
I am curious as to how you will feel allowing your daughter to run your day?

I speculate from this post that you are working under the assumption that children are manipulative, selfish beings that don't care at all for the feelings of others, the schedules of others and that they have an ulterior motive to run the household. I don't agree with that or sentiments like it at all. Granted, young children are very age appropriately self centered in that they sometimes are unable to see past their own wants at the moment to work towards the greater good, or agreeable solution.

Of course I am not going to wake up in the morning, walk up to my daughter and say "the day is all yours...tell me exactly what you want to do all day and we will do it!" That to me, is not a two-way relationship. At the same time though, I am not going to wake my daughter up and tell HER what we are doing all day either, despite what she feels or wants or needs. Many parents do that. They say, okay we have to go here and there and to the shops and this and that and maybe if you "are good" we will stop at the park. I am not into that kind of parenting at all.

Of course there are times where things need to be done, such as dentist's appointments and the like. However, I feel that you will find very few children who are just wantonly defiant for no reason whatsoever than to get under their parent's skin and to make their lives harder. Many pepople parent from that perspective, I do not. If my child did not wish to see the dentist, perhaps the last time the dentist's office frightened her? Or perhaps she felt scared in the chair with a stranger looking in her mouth with a bright light? Maybe she hasn't brushed so well and she is afraid the dentist may scold her or something? Maybe she hasn't been there before and she is scared to go the first time, scared of the unknown? Maybe she is so immersed in doing something that she doesn't want to leave to go because she thinks she won't be able to revisit it later? There are a ton of reasons she may not want to go, but none of which I believe are "I want to run mom's day damn it, so I am NOT going to the dentist."

I don't believe children work like that.

If she didn't want to go to the dentist, we wouldn't go. Simple as that. I can say that because I feel when a child knows what to expect, (you talk about it days before or the night before), you explaiun exactly what is going to happen (the dentist is only going to look in your mouth) you explain the time frame (we are still going to the park, the dentist will only take about an hour), you talk about any fears, etc...it is very unlikely a child is going to stomp her feet and say..."I don't care... I AM NOT GOING AND I AM RUNNING YOUR LIFE!! HAHAHA!".....

I would think that if someone's child is consistently (key word, we all have off days)engaging in power struggles to try to retain or gain some control over the things they do and the places they go, what they wear, the things they eat etc... that maybe they are acting out as a result of being too controlled in other areas....
post #17 of 434
How would you (scubamama & captaincrunchy) handle it when your child wants to do something, but doesn't want to do something else that's a prerequisite? My daughter wants to go out every day. I want my daughter to go out every day, because she's much, much easier to cope with if she gets some fresh air and exercise. However, my daughter does not want to put on clothes...she doesn't want to put on shoes...she doesn't want to put on her coat. If I get her dressed, I'm using force. What do you do?
post #18 of 434
I got a little OT on my first post. As to the "Have tos"......

I just do not get it. 99% of the time dd enjoys being with us. She likes new adventures and going shopping and visiting friends. She knows that getting in the carseat (not her favorite thing) usually results in doing something she enjoys. Occasionally she does not want to get into it no matter what. I usually find out later she has a diaper rash or a tummy ache that made the carseat seem like a horrible idea. Luckily it is pretty easy to work around. There is very seldom somewhere I "HAVE TO" go to. If we are talking about a dentist appointment that I will get charged for if I do not show up, I usually have some sort of care arranged for dd. Usually dh arranges to be home so I can go alone anyway. If she wants to go, all three of us goes and dh watches her there. If all of that fails, to be honest, I will pay the $25 charge before I force dd into the seat. I do not know why she does not want to go. It might be trivial (to me) or it might be serious. She is too young to tell me exactly. But I have to assume that she has a good reason (to her) and I should repect that. I get seriously carsick in cars. I have to be in the front seat and sometimes even must be driving. I recently visited freinds for a weekend and they wanted to drive me all over to see the sights. it was a very hilly curvy area. I was green in the backseat after 30 minutes. I asked if I could switch with the front seat person. She agreed and all was well. Dd is too young to negotitate something like this. All she would know to do is refuse the careseat. if I ignored that and stuffed her in anyway, I would seriously be disrespecting her. Now, i am pretty sure she does not get carsick since she is usually agreeable to get in it. But if one day she is not, I have to assume there is a reason and a valid one.....just as valid as my could-be-percieved-as-invalid-if-I-could-not-articulate-it request to sit in the front seat.

So in my opinion, a "HAVE TO" comes down to what is really important. I am not perfect (as I mentioned earlier) but I strive very hard to say that I "HAVE TO" respect my dd to the best of my ability before I "HAVE TO" do anything else.

I mean really, what is a "HAVE TO"? How often is there really a life or death "HAVE TO"? I can think of a few. I might have to save dd from oncoming traffic in a disrespectful way if it were an emergency. I might have to stuff her in a carseat in order to take her to the ER if she swallowed poison. Sure, i can grasp that those situations exist very rarely.

And I do not think it is about self sacrifice. First off, having children period is a sacrifice. There are inherent limitations in my lifestyle that comes with that. Not forcing my child to do things has not made my life more difficult. If anything, respecting my dd makes her more able to respect me. She does not dictate my entire day. Because we have a resepctful relationship, she can ask to go to the park and I can tell her if I have a headache and do not want to go. That might be the end of the conversation. Sometimes going to the park is more important to dd than my headache (to her). When that is the case, we discuss other options. Maybe dh can take her to the park. Maybe a friend can. Maybe she would be happy to wait until afternoon. And sometimes (very rarely....it has actually never come to this) there is some reason I do not understand that dd feels that her need to go to the park is so overhwelming that maybe I would reconsider my feelings in order to help her. Maybe she and dh planned a surprise party for me at the park. Maybe dd is meeting an important friend there. Maybe maybe maybe. The fact is I do not know. So until she can clearly articulate it (and sometimes adults cannot even do that....liek the surprise party) I have to trust that since we have modelled respectfulness, she is trying her best to do the same. Sometimes that means trusting. And just doing it. Not sacrificing, but giving dd a chance to call the cards that we as adults really get to do 99% of the time. I would bet that most times we would be pleasently surprised.

In actuality it does not really happen that way. dd knows that I feel her agenda is important and she therefore feels mine is important. She knows I have her happiness in mind when i make plans and therefore trusts that I am going in a direction that will be agreeable to her. And she also knows she can express her displeasure if things are going too much in not-her direction and she trusts that i will try and help her out with that. It really makes for an agreeable arrangement in which we each get what we want. WAY WAY WAY easier than trying to just call most of the shots and deal with her resistance all day.

I try to think of like my relationship with dh. He might have an idea to go out for the evening somewhere. I might have a headache and tell him this. sometimes he would say, "OK, I do not want you to be miserable with a headache all night, lets stay home". Sometimes he will say, "Oh, that sucks, but I think you would still have fun, let's try it". Then i get to say if I agree or not. Because I know that he respects me, I usually know he has my best interest in mind and therefore trust his suggestion more willingly than I would if I thought he had only his agenda in mind. Why should it be any different for smaller people? I think of how miserable our relationship would be if I just did what he said blindly knowing that he did not care about respecting me.
post #19 of 434
Quote:
Originally Posted by jgale
Thanks for posting this. I have been thinking about this a lot, and reading a lot of the interesting discussion here on the topic. I also recently read Unconditional Parenting.

In theory, I totally agree with what you have written and I agree that life is full of choices and learning to toe the line is not what I want my child to learn from me. My problem is that the day to day logistics of maintaing that kind of relationship with a toddler has been impossible for my family.
Would it be possible if you didn't "have to" do it perfectly?

Quote:
I didn't see how old your daughter is, but my feeling is that non-coercive parenting is something that is on my radar now and will become more central to my parenting style as my son gets older and more verbal.

For now, I find the logistics to be unworkable. Yes, there are many many things that I can compromise, and many choices that my son can make rather than having me arbitrarily decide. But I can't do that all day long every single day in every situation. Sometimes if he really doesn't want to leave the park, then we can stay an extra half hour. But sometimes I have to go to work or I have an appointment or I'm just really freaking tired and I need to balance his desire to stay with my desire to leave.
Parenting in a nuclear family is difficult, especially when you are going to work on a schedule. That choice does impinge on your life and your son's. Just as it benefits your life and your son's. The underlying need is for adequate family finances. Could adequate be redefined? Could this need be met in other ways? Could a more flexible work option be sought? Could going to the park occur sometime other than when you are needing to go to work immediately afterwards? I imagine a part of your son's reluctance to leave the park is that he is enjoying undivided mama time! I don't know his age, but I imagine he understands that work = no mama at home. Could you be going home to something fun when leaving the park instead of home with mama leaving (ie. special water play, bubbles, ride bikes with dada, go for a stroller walk with dada, play ball with dada). 'Home with mama leaving' doesn't sound like where he wants to go when you leave the park. I found that going to the library from the park had the benefit of finding a video and then going home. And leaving the library had the benefit of watching the video at home and that eased the transition from the "most fun" to the "least fun" activity.

What could make the appointment more enjoyable for him? We bring food and a backpack full of books and little toys to engage himself while I have an appointment. I bring dada along to engage our son when I have an appointment. Sometimes they go places or stay home together while I have an appointment. There are options to make these things possible which meet both his needs and yours, imo.

Quote:
I guess balance is what I find difficult to achieve in trying to parent a toddler non-coercively. Whenever someone posts here asking for suggestions on how to get their kid to do something or stop tantruming or whatever, there are almost always half a dozen replies about how the parent shouldn't be trying to get the kid to do whatever it was in the first place--"Why do you have to leave the park right then?" "Why does your toddler have to get into his car seat?" etc. I think that most people would acknowledge that at least occasionally you really do have to do something (ie. if you really have to go to the bathroom or someone is ill, etc), but I think that even in an ordinary situation the parents wishes and preferences should also be considered, equally with the child's.
I totally agree that the parents wishes and preferences can be considered equally with the child's. The dilemma is that the child really doesn't have control of making that happen. They can not restrict or impose their will, other than by expressing frustration and distress when their will is ignored, obstructed or disregarded. The act of creating balance and modeling consideration falls to the parent, imo. We have always parented non-coercively and I feel fortunate that our son, at four years old, is so abled to negotiate for his needs and considerate of my needs. Not perfectly. Not consistently. But routinely and as a norm, he offers suggestion which consider my personal needs, limitations, wants, wishes and will. We are both less effective when tired or hungry, I observe. But the process is constantly to find a mutually agreeable solution. And we just keep working to create it. We don't default to coercion. I really work at modelling consideration of his needs so that he will observe and experience the benefits of this process of holding each of our needs equal.

Quote:
To me, that is the bigger lesson here. Not that my child needs to obey my rules because I said so and I'm the boss, but that he needs to understand that in a relationship, there are two people and to be considerate of the other person's needs and preferences. Right now, he is too young for that. For example, he would like to nurse probably for an hour and a half every night to go to sleep. After about 40 minutes I usually tell him "Mama's breasts hurt, they need a break. Lets sing a song instead" etc. And he would choose to continue to nurse even so...because he's 2. So I take him off, and he cries for a few minutes, and then we sing a song and he falls asleep. There are a lot of things that I can justify forcing him to do because if I don't, his actions will so negatively impact me/his father/the dog etc and I just don't think he's old enough yet to understand that.
For which things are you struggling to find mutually agreeable solutions? I find that when there is a pattern of difficulty finding a mutually agreeable solution, the system (expectations, environment, timing, unidentified underlying need, etc.) needs to be altered. When we are struggling to create a solution which meets both of our needs is when discussion with those involved, or other objective people (for instance with my on-line support, or like-minded friends), helps to trouble shoot.

For the nursing forever issue, which is not meeting your needs, I would create more attractive alternatives. Perhaps, he is needing your undivided attention and when you aren't nursing you are busy elsewhere. We have experienced this phenomena too. Finding things as good as nursing is tough. But it can be done. Maybe a warm bath together, snuggling with a video, cuddling under the covers with dada? I don't know what aspect of your attention he is seeking. Is he thirsty? Have you offered tasty substitute drinks, smoothies, etc? Is he hungry? The singing a song sounds wonderful. How about a walk in the sling and a song? The transition to some standing activity can help break the nursing aspect of the mama time but still meet the underlying need for your undivided attention. But sitting down and not nursing is a bit challenging, in my experience.

Is the car seat a real issue or a theoretical dilemma? Mostly, I found going TO fun was easier than leaving fun. Providing an opportunity for fun during the ride can happen too. Magnadoodles, children's music, juice in a box, snacks, crayons and paper on a travel tray, toy steering wheels, little cars and trucks to hand back during the ride, DVD player for long trips, etc. Not going into the car when needing a nap, transitions are challenging then. Going into the car needing a nap, depends if they like falling asleep in the car. It depends upon what the child's need related to the car seat is. Helping him to listen to his body helps him to learn to communicate his needs. Give words to his feelings, 'you sound hungry, tired, etc. you are having a tough time leaving this fun place, we are going to go do xyz'.

Quote:
Incidentally, I must say that I really don't see that he is any less happy overall with me laying down the law a little bit more often, which I've been doing lately. I talked to a friend who recently weaned her three year old. When I asked her how she did it, she said "I just realized that it was ok to say no sometimes." I've kept that phrase in my head and I really think that it has helped me to find more balance in my relationship with my son.

I really enjoy these threads and I look forward to hearing other's thoughts on the subject.

Jessi
I totally believe that you can say "no" about your body. Just as I believe our son can say "no" about his body. But, finding a win-win is a more portable, practical and preferrable skill to model than win-lose, imo. Just saying "no" without considering how our actions affect others isn't modeling consideration of other's needs imo. That is not what I want to model, demonstrate or impose on our son. I want him to have the opportunity to learn *how* to find win-win solutions. That takes much more negotiation, listening, consideration and respect than "no", imo. And it is an ongoing learning curve for me. I don't do it perfectly either.

Best wishes, hope that helps.

Pat
post #20 of 434
Thread Starter 
Quote:
How would you (scubamama & captaincrunchy) handle it when your child wants to do something, but doesn't want to do something else that's a prerequisite? My daughter wants to go out every day. I want my daughter to go out every day, because she's much, much easier to cope with if she gets some fresh air and exercise. However, my daughter does not want to put on clothes...she doesn't want to put on shoes...she doesn't want to put on her coat. If I get her dressed, I'm using force. What do you do?
Well, we have a fenced in backyard where she can happily run around naked if that is her preference. Under a certain age of course, children can't really negotiate or understand reasonable solutions. However, I have never encountered a child who was so adamantly against putting on any clothing at all ever, that it became such a problem that no one could ever leave the house. I have however, encountered children who don't so much NOT want to wear clothes, they just may not want to wear what their parents want them to wear. This is not an issue with us. If my daughter wants to wear a bathing suit and a tu-tu in 30 degree weather to go to the park in, I would happily let her. Cold weather doesn't cause illness. Now, when the inevitable happens and she gets cold, I will provide her with the coat I would have brought in the car for her. I probably wouldn't make an issue out of it at all, other than probably saying "Isn't that nice and warm? I love being warm when it's cold outside." or something of the sort, then moving on...

Now some hard @ss type parents would be like, I will let her wear what she likes but not bring a coat to "teach" her that if she is cold that is the consequence and she will learn her lesson. I am not like that at all. I would bring a coat, because after all, when she is an adult, she can wear a bikini to go snow skiing if she wants to, and if she gets cold, she will be able to get a coat. No one would force her to stay like that to "teach her a lesson".

If the child was old enough to reason or understand I would just be honest. I would say that it is the law that people have to be clothed when going into shops or in public areas because it may offend others, or cause a disturbance or scene or whatever. I would explain that I personally don't have an issue with her being naked and she can run around all day long naked in the back yard, but if she wants to go out, there are certain rules of society, and that she can wear whatever she wants, but it has to cover her bare heiney!

To me that is not controlling, that is simply stating a fact. In almost all states, there are decency laws and whatnot that prohibit people from walking around naked. It isn't fair maybe, but that is the law and mama is not willing to be arrested so she can run free. No manipulation, no control, just stating what I am willing to accept, which is not jail time or a big fine, or CPS stepping in.
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Gentle Discipline
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Childhood and Beyond › Gentle Discipline › You HAVE to do things... (spin-off)