Do you prefer a family Hierarchy or Consensuality? Updated! - Page 3 - Mothering Forums

View Poll Results: Family Dynamics: Hierarchy or Consensuality?
Definite hierarchy with rules, strict structure; decisions made on behalf of children. 17 2.81%
Hierarchy with guidelines, routine, soft structure; most decisions made for children. 176 29.14%
Consensual family; decisions round table, children are self determining; few or no rules. 56 9.27%
Mostly Consensual; guidelines, choice where possible, highly structured 61 10.10%
Combo; children know their place in hierarchy but have as much freedom as poss within that structure 277 45.86%
I don't know what you are talking about. 17 2.81%
Voters: 604. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 03-30-2009, 04:08 PM
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you are my hero
and then a hero comes along, with the stregnth to carry on, and we cast our fears aside, and we know we can survive! so when you feel like hope is gone, look inside you and be strong, and you'll finally see the truth - that a hero lies in you!!!

I think that song just took on a whole new meaning for me :
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Old 03-30-2009, 04:11 PM
 
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I know mamazee empathizes! thats what im saying - that what she is doing is really no different then what im doing!

I agree as well, it IS easier when they are not in school!
Sorry if I sounded snippy...I know you are just trying to help. I miss the old days before school. I mean, I can let her delay and delay but if it were up to her she would do it late at night or not at all...it's hard.
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Old 03-30-2009, 04:15 PM
 
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There are things in my home that are NOT up for negotiation and I will not sit there and listen to a child try to negotiate their way out of something.

However, there are MANY things that we can ngotiate and we discuss many things and many aspects of their lives.

It is pick and choose and it is MY choice to pick and choose. That is the benefit of being the mom and being the adult in the home.

I do notice I am getting stricter as time goes by, my kids are older then some of the kids in question here and frankly, my 12 year old needs to learn to shut up sometimes (said in the nicest way possible). He is getting way too big for his britches and it is becoming or going to become a major problem in school. We as the parents are working hard on getting him to learn to STOP, THINK, LISTEN and APPROACH in a proper and repsectful way, even if that means he has to wait an extended period of time. This is valuable in school, work, and home. Very different then trying to just distract a young child, I am having to teach him to be a young adult that isn't going to be causing problems for himself with this mouth and his idea that he can talk his way out of anything or talk people into getting what he wants.

Honestly, I do regret some of the negotiation as a YOUNG child because it gave him a false sense that he always had the right to have a say so, when in reality, he doesn't. Not when it comes to the real world.

Oh and I voted for a hierarchy, but really, I like the dictatorship idea
This is what I meant earlier...the idea that she has no boss...she is in charge because I try to be gentle with her. I am gentle with you and then you give me a bad attitude?
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Old 03-30-2009, 04:15 PM
 
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we do our best to make decisions as a family- everyone's input counts!

that said, mama's opinion usually tromps if an agreement can't be reached

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Old 03-30-2009, 04:18 PM
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I understand that! Me and my sister were always awesome about homework because we loved school (until I got older and the work was SO boring that I didnt do it and for a while I got bad grades for not doing homework, then I got switched to advanced classes, felt challenged, and graduated 2 years early) My brother on the other hand, hates homework. It seemed to help all of us though to know that homework was done after snack but before anything else, and on the first night of the weekend so we had the whole weekend to ourselves. With some children I can see how they might need a "break" from school work when they get home. In those cases perhaps an hour of free time first would work and when the homework is done they have the rest of the night to themselves. It helps when you really know you child, and you can separat their needs from their desires ya know? You know your daughter doesnt desire to do homework at all, but you probably know if, since she DOES have to do it, if she would do better doing it right after school or taking an hour break first or something else ya know? You know if she rather be left alone while she does it or if your company would make it more bearable for her - or if she needs to take a 15 minute break between assignments or whatever. And if a parent doesnt know they can sit down and say "it's important to me that your homework gets done. let's decide now in what way it will be easiest for you" let them build up a homework "schedule" that you can hold them accountable too. revisit it if it turns out its not working out for everyone involved. and of course, that is not the be all end all solution! they STILL dont WANT to do their homework. they will still complain and we will still empathize. but perhaps, even if we don't see it, it has made it a little easier for them. At the very least, they can know that we respect them to involve them in making the homework rules - which of course our opinion in those rules matter so any rules we don't agree with would not be a consensual decision! And probably best to bring this up when one isnt already in the middle of a homework battle. It is definitely hard. It seems as they get older things get easier in one area and harder in another!
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Old 03-30-2009, 04:24 PM
 
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It's funny that this discussion has turned to homework. I'm probably slightly more consensual in my style than my mom was (although maybe not - we have pretty similar approaches). I did my homework occasionally once I reached high school (didn't really have it before that), and my brother and sister pretty much didn't do it at all. They actually both dropped out.

Homework wasn't an option. We weren't allowed out on school nights, so it's not like we had other stuff going on that trumped it. We just didn't do it. I can remember sitting at the kitchen table for literally hours, refusing to do an assignment. I ultimately got done, but to a very low standard. I just wanted to get it out of my way. The schools didn't have any kind of system for tracking homework, or notifying parents, so I just said I didn't have any - every single day.

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Old 03-30-2009, 04:32 PM
 
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I voted combo, but in reality we don't have a set family structure and I have never read any books on this subject. I believe that children should be respected as part of the family and given choice in situations where in it feasible. However there are definately times or ages when they aren't going to be able to do this.

I would describe my parenting style as more instinctual than anything else. I follow my gut on what will be good for my dd and our bond is strong enough to respond to her in the best way. There are times when its my way or no way but things are usually in regards to danger or health conerns. I think it is fundamental that she is respected as a person by others around her. I hate when people act like kids are just little dolls to dress up and order around. I also believe in picking my battles. I am not going to have dd go into a tantrum over something that isn't that crucial just because I am stubborn and want it my way (unless letting her have her choice will harm her in some way or is just not possible for us at the moment).

I hope to be able to continue this, especially when she is older and begins making more decisions for herself.

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Old 03-30-2009, 04:39 PM
 
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I would describe my parenting style as more instinctual than anything else.
Me, too. One aspect of MDC where I feel like a bit of a misfit is that I haven't ever done a lot of parenting research. I mostly wing it.

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Old 03-30-2009, 04:44 PM
 
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Benevolent dictatorship, here. Dh and I are firmly in charge, but the kids have a great deal of freedom inside the structure we've put in place. We're very happy as we are.

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Thats well put Llyra. Reminds me of what Alfie Kohn says in Unconditional Parenting:

Reasonable structures are imposed when necessary, in a flexible manner, without undue restrictiveness, and when possible, with the participation of the child.

This is I think what many of us do, this is largely how I grew up and it is how I am raising my kids.

As far as the homework goes I homeschool, and sometime I have to stand over my kids and employ the dictatorship and say you will do this! Other days they are bugging me.. is it time for school yet mom?
I also see where there is need for flexability, especially when dealing with different personalities.

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Old 03-30-2009, 05:08 PM
 
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I voted combo. I see my husband and I as our children's moral compass. In that sense, we are together as one in the "highest", ie. the structural "top" of the family hierarchy. I believe children (and for that matter, all people) need structure as much as they need freedom to work within that structure. This isn't to say I believe we, as adults, do not have anything to learn from our children, I think we certainly do, but I believe in boundaries and rules and live by them myself, so I think my children should understand them as well while not being bogged down or oppressed.

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Old 03-30-2009, 05:23 PM
 
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Me, too. One aspect of MDC where I feel like a bit of a misfit is that I haven't ever done a lot of parenting research. I mostly wing it.
Me too and my new baby is in for a rude awakening, I learned a lot from trial and error with the first two kids
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Old 03-30-2009, 05:27 PM
 
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The thing is, SGM, I kind of cringe because I remember having these same conversations on here a few years back, only on your end of the discussion and saying just what you're saying. So on one hand, I know where you're coming from because I've been there, and on the other hand, I know I was wrong, at least for my kid, and just hadn't seen where things were going and how older kids respond to certain kinds of negotiations. They don't buy the supposed choices. But I really and truly thought everything could be consensual at one point. I've learned that it simply isn't working here, at least with my daughter and her personality. She just gets more angry and upset. She's much happier if I deal straight with her at put everything in her court and let her figure it out. "Here's the deal. Your homework simply has be done. I understand you don't want to do it, and *** would be more fun, but you didn't want to do your homework earlier and now there's no time. How and where you do it is up to you, but you have to do it now." She responds best to that kind of approach. If I homeschooled I could be consensual much more often. But I don't want to homeschool. I would recommend it for people for whom CL is that high of a priority.
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Old 03-30-2009, 05:45 PM
 
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PM'ed you Super Glue Mommy.
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Old 03-30-2009, 05:52 PM
 
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Our family was much more consensual when my dd was younger, actually. And we'd probably be more consensual if she wasn't in school. But school is where most of the "push comes to shove" issues come up. The bus comes at a certain time. Homework has to be done. And there are just different issues for a 7-year-old than a 2-year-old. You can't get a 7-year-old's attention taken away from an issue by getting a fancier toothbrush or a toy in the same way.
its just my dd and me.

but in our case going to school, growing up has become far more consensual than before.

by consensual i mean my dd makes the decision, not me. i help her wake up the way she has asked me to. i dont insist with her going to school or doing her homework. she does that on her own. she knows if she doesnt want to go to school she will either have to stay with her dad or go to school with me. or stay home alone. that is still a choice even if it is illegal. she makes the choice not to stay home. and she chooses to go to school because out of all the alternatives that is what she chooses.

she does her homework by herself. sometimes she asks me for help. sometimes i remind her its getting late. somedays she chooses not to do it and suffer the consequences.

so really i am loving this. i only have a v. surface understanding of CL. so i might be just interpreting my way. but what i am enjoying truly is watching my dd make a choice and realise she IS making a choice whether she likes it or not.

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Old 03-30-2009, 05:56 PM
 
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i dont insist with her going to school or doing her homework. she does that on her own. she knows if she doesnt want to go to school she will either have to stay with her dad or go to school with me. or stay home alone. that is still a choice even if it is illegal. she makes the choice not to stay home. and she chooses to go to school because out of all the alternatives that is what she chooses.
And that is exactly where I am NOT consensual. I absolutely will not allow her to stay home whenever she feels like it, and it is illegal and I'd be worried about my kids being taken away. I don't know enough about Illinois and truancy laws but I'm not playing around with that.

BUT I should add that the issues where I don't feel we can be consensual are few. In most issues, we really can find something that works well for everyone.
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Old 03-30-2009, 05:59 PM
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The thing is, SGM, I kind of cringe because I remember having these same conversations on here a few years back, only on your end of the discussion and saying just what you're saying. So on one hand, I know where you're coming from because I've been there, and on the other hand, I know I was wrong, at least for my kid, and just hadn't seen where things were going and how older kids respond to certain kinds of negotiations. They don't buy the supposed choices. But I really and truly thought everything could be consensual at one point. I've learned that it simply isn't working here, at least with my daughter and her personality. She just gets more angry and upset. She's much happier if I deal straight with her at put everything in her court and let her figure it out. "Here's the deal. Your homework simply has be done. I understand you don't want to do it, and *** would be more fun, but you didn't want to do your homework earlier and now there's no time. How and where you do it is up to you, but you have to do it now." She responds best to that kind of approach. If I homeschooled I could be consensual much more often. But I don't want to homeschool. I would recommend it for people for whom CL is that high of a priority.
so funny and I was on your end a few years back! seems we switched veiws, though I am a bit confused because what you say you are doing is the same as what I said I would do. What you said is the same thing I would say, so I feel like you are debating me when I am agreeing with you? a bit confused, so forgive me if I'm missing something. All I'm saying is YES THE HOMEWORK HAS TO BE DONE THAT IS NOT NEGOTIABLE, VALDATE DONT GIVE OPTIONS AT THAT POINT. once that is "settled" the child can decide how they want to do it - whether you make suggestions or offer choices or whether they decide for themselves (sitting down at the kitchen table or going to sit in their room - you dont have to offer one or the other, but they will pick a place to do. they will create an environment that makes it better for them to do the thing they don't want to do - in this case homework. I mean, unless you are saying you tell your child "you have to sit in this seat, at this table. I don't care if music helps you concentrate that can't be possible we need no distractions so no sound for you. and no you can't take a break. no you can't have a snack first, no you cant have a drink of water next to you while you work" then we agree. the only thing I dont agree with is saying there is only ONE way to do homework. I mean, perhaps to your child there is only one way, but they know what that way is. Perhaps in some ways you know what distracts them and you can say "well we cant do the music because when we do that you end up not finishing your homework" but I don't think you saying that you dictate an exact way to do the homework. You just said that the homework has to be done. To me, that can be said with a consensus.

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Old 03-30-2009, 06:02 PM
 
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It isn't consensual if she doesn't want to do homework in any way or place or time, and I say homework has to be done whether she wants to do it or not. That is not a consensus. CL people would not force their kids to do homework - they'd do like meemee said. So that's what has me confused.
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Old 03-30-2009, 06:09 PM
 
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Me, too. One aspect of MDC where I feel like a bit of a misfit is that I haven't ever done a lot of parenting research. I mostly wing it.
I almost started a thread about this awhile back. Honestly, I wish I hadn't done most of the parenting research I have done including reading The Continuum Concept. All it did was make me question and even deny some of my own instincts which looking back on it were pretty good to begin with. I'm all for winging it at this point. Now I just wish I could scrub my mind of all the propaganda and dogma.

To answer the OP, I voted "combo." We give choices and allow a fair amount of freedom where we can, but at the end of the day, my husband and I are in charge. I think my daughter actually appreciates that and it gives her some security.

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Old 03-30-2009, 06:11 PM
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And that is exactly where I am NOT consensual. I absolutely will not allow her to stay home whenever she feels like it, and it is illegal and I'd be worried about my kids being taken away. I don't know enough about Illinois and truancy laws but I'm not playing around with that.

BUT I should add that the issues where I don't feel we can be consensual are few. In most issues, we really can find something that works well for everyone.
IMO consensual looks different in every family. you are not less consensual because you don't let your child stay home from school. your family consensus is just different then hers. she is okay with her child staying home from school. if she was not, and allowed her child to anyway that would not be consensual. you are not okay with your child staying home from school, so if you let them then you would be being permissive not consensual.

I'll try to break it down using the same example.
Child doesn't want to go to school.

Consensual Family 1:
Parents don't care if child doesn't want to go, child doesn't want to go, child doesn't go.

Consensual Family 2:
Parents want child to go, child doesn't want to go, they agree child can pick one "Free" day per month.

Consensual Family 3:
Parents want child to go, child doesn't want to go, Parent's don't feel comfortable with any free days from school, so child must go to school, they empathize with the child, and perhaps try to think up some ways to make the experience more enjoyable.

Non-Consensual Family:
You must go to school, I don't care how you feel, I don't want to hear about it, I'm not willing to discuss any ideas about a middle ground, its not my responsibility to make it any more enjoyable for you, just do it.

Okay, and there are probably many more examples of consensual and probably some other kind of families I am leaving out here too, but the point is that consensus means that everyone's views are heard. You would not be reaching a consensus to let a child run around on the highway unless you don't care if they do so. If you care, then a consensus would not involve doing that, because you wouldn't have agreed to it as well.

I think its about underlying needs. No your child cant run around on the highway because you didn't reach that consensus, and you never will because its NOT okay with you (and maybe its okay with other CL families, but that's because they are different people bringing different feelings to the table) BUT maybe you can figure out what the underlying need is and meet that instead. The need to run. The need for excitement. Perhaps even the need to have a boundary set so they can "spill" some stored emotions. Might have nothing to do with running in the street in the first place.

anyway thats just my insight. as I said I am sure to most CL families I do not seem CL. I have been told that my approach is not CL and to be honest I dont care what its called all I know is that we work towards being consensual and I am part of that consensus. At the same time, so is my child, and I don't know how I can really explain that very well, but I do think sometimes a consensus can be reached and the other person isn't thrilled, but is willing to sacrifice this time and the other person may sacrifice on the next issue - but all the while trying to find a way to eventually find the "ideal solution"

To be honest though, the online consensual community looks very different then the "model" for consensus that is described in "CL-friendly" books. but perhaps that is because they have different things that are important to them then the authors of those books.
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Old 03-30-2009, 06:15 PM
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It isn't consensual if she doesn't want to do homework in any way or place or time, and I say homework has to be done whether she wants to do it or not. That is not a consensus. CL people would not force their kids to do homework - they'd do like meemee said. So that's what has me confused.
that would only be consensual if they didn't care about the homework getting done. IF you do, then it wouldn't be consensual to not let them do it. Have you read "How to TalK so Kids will Listen?"

It explains (what I consider to be) a consensual approach to problem solving in there. maybe you could read that (or re read it) and it will help you be less confused? I think what is confusing is looking at the way CL works in one family and thinking there is some kind of continuum that some people or more or less CL then others, when the reality is just that they have different people in their families with different things being important to them, and so they come to a different consensus on the same issues.
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Old 03-30-2009, 06:18 PM
 
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You and I just have different definitions of CL. I've read How to Talk but I dont' at all consider it CL.
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Old 03-30-2009, 06:26 PM
 
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Definitely a combo here. I like to say that they live in a totalitarian communist dictatorship (as a joke). We are not individualists in the family we are a community. We work together and share, but do each have our own special possessions. I encourage my children to make as many decisions as possible within their roles. There are certain things that are not negotiable, but most things are. We support each other and treat each other with respect. We do these things not for reward or punishment but because that is what makes our family run smoothly as a community.
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Old 03-30-2009, 06:26 PM
 
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I voted combo.

We definitely have a family heirarchy. And the kids know it.

But we look for opportunities to let them make choices, as our goal is not control really, but raising them so that they can go out as adults and make good, healthy choices.
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Old 03-30-2009, 06:26 PM
 
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And that is exactly where I am NOT consensual. I absolutely will not allow her to stay home whenever she feels like it, and it is illegal and I'd be worried about my kids being taken away. I don't know enough about Illinois and truancy laws but I'm not playing around with that.

BUT I should add that the issues where I don't feel we can be consensual are few. In most issues, we really can find something that works well for everyone.
but see here is teh thing. of course i would not let her stay at home alone. but she makes the call on the illegality of it. not me. with neighbours around the only reason i would not leave her alone at home is legal. she is mature enough and has enough common sense to be left alone in our tiny place in the suburbs. so i dont play around with the law. she gets law so she knows she cant stay at home alone even if she wanted to. so me giving her a choice is not really a choice in a way but yet it is still a choice. and she knows i would not let her stay alone. but i want HER to make the call - not me. she has never, ever said oh i will stay alone then. never. ever.

yeah i agree. i too have noticed issues where i dont feel consensual are v. v. few these days.

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Old 03-30-2009, 06:30 PM
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You and I just have different definitions of CL. I've read How to Talk but I dont' at all consider it CL.
thats fine! As I said, CL looks different in my family. Not that I think we are totally CL in my own family, but we are aspiring to be. How about unconditional parenting? which says a lot of the same things regarding consensus. Do you think that book is CL?

Here are books I have read and agree with, all recommended by consensual living . com
Kohn, Alfie, Unconditional Parenting
Faber, Adele and Elaine Mazlish, How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk (you don't consider it CL, but consensual-living.com does lol)
Faber, Adele and Elaine Mazlish, Siblings Without Rivalry
Greene, Ross, The Explosive Child: A New Approach for Understanding and Parenting Easily Frustrated, Chronically Inflexible Children
Aron, Elaine, The Highly Sensitive Child: Helping Our Children Thrive When the World Overwhelms Them
Aldort, Naomi, Raising Our Children, Raising Ourselves: Transforming Parent-child Relationships from Reaction And Struggle to Freedom, Power And Joy


http://www.consensual-living.com/suggestedreading.htm


So I realize that How to Talk isnt CL in your eyes, but it is a CL-friendly book

I do think that CL gets lost on the internet though, because you meet CL families who don't have the same feelings as we do, so they come to different consensus then we do, and then we think we aren't CL if it's not something that we would be okay with. "Oh, they let their child skip homework and I wouldn't so if they are CL then I must not be CL" instead of looking at it as "they view more to be the decision solely of the child then I do, but this is important to me in my family and I am part of my families consensus and so not doing the homework would not be a consensual agreement for me"

However, I will say, if my child got good grades and understood the material and didnt NEED the practice (which is what homework is) I would be willing to talk to the teachers to see if we could come up with another solution. Perhaps some kind of related assignment that also engages their interests and is challenging to them instead of boring droning work that is too easy. and another solution may be in order if its because the work is too hard.

" Consensual living is a process, a philosophy, a mindset by which we seek to live in harmony with our families and community. It involves finding mutually agreed upon solutions, where the needs of both parties are not only considered but addressed. Everyone’s wants and needs are equally valid, regardless of age. Conflicting wants or needs are discussed and mutually agreeable solutions are created or negotiated which meet the underlying needs of all parties.
Consensual Living is broad and far reaching. It influences the way we interact with everyone, from our immediate families to our community and the world at large. It is about assigning positive intent and looking for solutions. This can apply in so many arenas. It can change interactions, even if they are historically adversarial. "
http://www.consensual-living.com/

Perhaps some parents confuse CL with TCS?

It may also be confused with Taking Children Seriously, TCS, a parenting and educational philosophy which, like CL, rejects the use of parental coercion and views coercive acts as psychologically harmful to the child. Consensual Living differs from TCS primarily in its preference for moral relativism and its rejection of the error-correcting method of determining objective truth as put forward by Karl Popper.
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Consensual family; decisions round table, children are self determining; few or no rules.

I hate arbitrary rules.

I do get frustrated with some things, such as Sophia's endlessly climbing on everything, getting up on the stove, cupboards, jumping on the dining table to talk to the birds, filling the kitchen sink and soaking her feet in it, ..... She is not supposed to do these things. Abigail stopped counter surfing when she was around 2-2.5 and learned this is not okay, for many reasons (dangerous, messy). But lately she's in 'do it myself' stage, so she often climbs on the counter to make a bowl of cereal (and I'm surprised at how well she does this!). But overall, very few rules.

The no climbing is my biggest battle. As I type this, Sophia has once again scaled the entertainment center.

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Old 03-30-2009, 07:18 PM
 
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I picked combo. We avoid arbitrary rules like the plague, but sometimes rules just are. For our family though, everything is about balance. Swing too far into the CL side and you potentially have kids that are completely out of control. Too far into the hierarchy side and you trounce their right to be different than you.

So...like everything else.....yin and yang...

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Old 03-30-2009, 07:21 PM
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I still don't see how being too consensual would make unruly children - I think some confuse CL with permissiveness though- but if you include yourself in the consensus you shouldn't have a problem

I guess I see CL as the place between permissiveness and strictness... just the same we do have rules - rules that apply to everyone in the family, not just the children

ETA: I see nothing wrong with parenting in any of these ways, different things work for different families, and I think what works for one family is really dependent on what that families goals are. I just don't think that someone who is being consensual is going to have out of control or unruly kids. In fact the family I met that seemed to have it together the most was a CL family with 6 girls. They really inspired me, though at the time I though that would work with MY kids, but turns out it does lol.. though technically we aren't really there yet.
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Old 03-30-2009, 07:35 PM
 
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I still don't see how being too consensual would make unruly children - I think some confuse CL with permissiveness though- but if you include yourself in the consensus you shouldn't have a problem
How do you reach consensus, then? I've never understood this. If I don't want dd on the counter, and she wants to be on the counter, there's not going to be a consensus on this issue. She can get her way or I can get mine...but we can't have consensus when we each want things that are diametrically opposed to what the other wants.

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Old 03-30-2009, 07:56 PM
 
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I picked the second choice, though that might have a lot to do with the fact that DD is 15 months old, and I just don't think consensual living is feasible on a practical level with babies. As she gets older I plan to offer her more choices, involve her in decision making more and encourage her to accept more responsibility for herself. Though I still don't think it will be hard-core CL.

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