Finding balance between "tyrant" and "spineless" - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 8 Old 07-21-2012, 05:56 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Just read this thought-provoking article on the newyorker.com about the anthropological differences in parenting worldwide. So for those of us who try to parent in a more gentle (and possibly less-mainstream) way, how do you strive to obtain a balance between helping your children when they need it, and gently pushing them outside their comfort zone to help them grow? Between being a tyrant or a spineless parent?
 

 

I recently read the book "Setting Limits With Your Strong Willed Child" and it was a real eye-opener for me. I discovered how wishy-washy I have been when I thought I was being firm but gentle. Anyone have any recommendations of books/blogs/websites where I could read more about it?

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#2 of 8 Old 07-22-2012, 12:53 AM
 
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It can be challenging, but I am comfortable with the balance I have when it comes to discipline and rules. I absolutely think that consistency is key, but even with that, sometimes you do need to reevaluate and may need to change things. What worked for me to help with the balance was to take their feelings, thoughts, and wants into consideration when making rules and decisions, but not letting them "vote", if that makes sense. They didn't get to make rules, but I did listen to them and gave choices and options whenever possible. I tried not to micromange and figured out what things were absolutely non negotiable and what things I could overlook or be flexible on. 

 

Read as much as you can and figure out what makes sense to you, and go from there. Parenting is a journey and you won't get every part of it right, it's a learning process, You'll do great!


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#3 of 8 Old 07-22-2012, 04:41 AM
 
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My laptop won't let me follow your link, but for me the line is where everyone is least inconvenienced.

 

A spineless person accepts inconvenience to avoid inflicting it on others, even when the others are being unreasonable.

 

A tyrant inconveniences others for fun or without thought.

 

I try to balance everyone's needs in a way that my kids are too young to do themselves - because when you're 6 your desire for your sister's sweets really MIGHT feel more important than her right to have her own share of the sweets.  There are some hard rules in our house and a lot of negotiable guidelines, which i think works best for our kids.  Some kids do better with more negotiation and some with less.

 

I get it wrong a lot.  I apologise, brush us all down and get on with things....

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#4 of 8 Old 07-24-2012, 02:56 PM
 
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I like "Kids Are Worth It" by Barbara Coloroso. Her extremes are brick wall and jellyfish, with a backbone parent in between. I refer to myself as a benevolent dictator - ultimately I make the rules (with DH), but I try to do so in a kind, thoughtful, respectful way. I characterize my relationship with my sons as based on trust and respect - in both directions.

 

I also like "How to Talk so Kids Will Listen".

 

As the others said, consistency is a big part of any successful parenting style. What has worked well for us (and our twin boys are almost 18) has been to follow the Golden Rule - we treat the kids the way we want to be treated; we have the same rules for everyone in the house (i.e. if they can't eat a popsicle in the living room, or leave the table before a meal is finished, neither can we).

 

Rules and limits are important, but not cast in stone or arbitrary. For example, in elementary school my kids would periodically ask to have a later bedtime ("but our freinds get to stay up later!"). I explained that bedtime is ultimately decided by two things: how much sleep they need, and what time school starts. Since school start time (and time to get ready in the morning) are fixed, bedtime is decided by how much sleep they need. I told them that if they could consistently wake up on their own, without an alrm, they are getting enough sleep, and can stay up later. If they needed help waking up every day, they need that much sleep or more, and bedtime stays the same. Eventually that made sense to them! The best part is, with the logic behind the rule, they figured out that it makes sense to go to bed the same time on weekends as weeknights (with occasional exceptions, of course). Even as teenagers they rarely stay up late.


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#5 of 8 Old 07-25-2012, 12:25 AM
 
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I read that article and my main reaction was that the descriptions Ms. Kolbert has given of her own parenting seem really weird to me. I mean, one of her kids is 13 and she's just starting to have them help bring in the groceries?  Then after the puddle incident she doesn't have the kid clean up the mess he made himself?  Then he didn't put out the garbage right and a bear made a huge mess. So she stopped asking the kid to out out the garbage? Why didn't she have the kid clean up the mess the bear left and say "See, that's why we have to do it properly."

 

 

I try to raise my kids in such a way that they will be capable and responsible people. Now that they're in their teens, I am telling them "This will help when you leave home, so you'll be able to live comfortably [meaning hygienically in relatively chaos-free room, flat, or house].

 

To help my kids start a new task, I'll often show them. Then I'll have them do it and provide feedback and suggestions on the completed job. Keep on doing it.  The expectations of how my kids vacuumed the living room at 9 are different from the expectations of how they vacuum at 14.

 

The midddle-ground between being spineless and a tyrant: "the authoritative parent"

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parenting_styles#Authoritative_parenting

 

http://www.parentingscience.com/authoritative-parenting-style.html

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#6 of 8 Old 07-26-2012, 12:41 AM
 
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The article is typical of articles that are being published in the press that bring examples of crazy and permissive parents in order to promote a more authoratitive/authoratarian parenting style. The choice is not being spinelss or a tyrant or something in between or being permissive or authoratitive/authoratarian but what is called ' working with or doing to ' parenting styles , one that focuses on cooperation and intrinsic motivation and solving problems in a collaborative way , not blowing kids concerns off the table , but where possible trying to find mutually satisfying solutions. It is also about having rules or expectations .If a rule is broken , a punishment or consequence is demanded , if an expectation is not met , we try to find out why and solve the problem. Do we focus on compliance or helping kids to feel more commited to the values underlying behaviors.When kids are not just given choices - do it my way - A, B,or C but can actually generate choices and with our guidance participate in family decisions and take responsibility , they will show more commitment to the family. In too many parenting books being responsible is essentially being compliant . We want kids to ask how their actions impact on others , how they can contribute and not ask what are the consequences for them . The book setting limits for a strong willed child is about getting compliance without getting too much resistance . We have to connect and help the kid to connect to his true inner being and intrinsic motivation , being spineless , or a tryrant or something in between won't get us there 

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#7 of 8 Old 08-11-2012, 10:01 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mary934 View Post

The article is typical of articles that are being published in the press that bring examples of crazy and permissive parents in order to promote a more authoratitive/authoratarian parenting style. The choice is not being spinelss or a tyrant or something in between or being permissive or authoratitive/authoratarian but what is called ' working with or doing to ' parenting styles , one that focuses on cooperation and intrinsic motivation and solving problems in a collaborative way , not blowing kids concerns off the table , but where possible trying to find mutually satisfying solutions. It is also about having rules or expectations .If a rule is broken , a punishment or consequence is demanded , if an expectation is not met , we try to find out why and solve the problem. Do we focus on compliance or helping kids to feel more commited to the values underlying behaviors.When kids are not just given choices - do it my way - A, B,or C but can actually generate choices and with our guidance participate in family decisions and take responsibility , they will show more commitment to the family. In too many parenting books being responsible is essentially being compliant . We want kids to ask how their actions impact on others , how they can contribute and not ask what are the consequences for them . The book setting limits for a strong willed child is about getting compliance without getting too much resistance . We have to connect and help the kid to connect to his true inner being and intrinsic motivation , being spineless , or a tryrant or something in between won't get us there 

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#8 of 8 Old 08-11-2012, 11:05 PM
 
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I recommend the book The Explosive Child. Your child does not have to be anywhere near explosive, violent, or argumentative to benefit from the author's approach of collaborative problem solving. DH and I have an oppositional child who is not at the level yet of being able to participate much in cps. What has worked is to be consistent in how we handle things, at all times. We are easy-going, not many rules, avoid punishments, etc. I keep in mind that I am raising future adults. How will my child know how to load the dishwasher if I don't show her and guide her? I can't just say, "Please set the table," without first having shown her, perhaps many times, how to do it. We adults often forget that tasks such as "make the bed" involve many steps. I agree w/ pp that the author should have pursued her children when they messed up. You didn't do the trash right, that shows me that you need more practice at it ;) We don't show or expect our kids to do real things and are then irritated when they don't do real things! I need my kids to see that we don't treat people badly, that's not okay. I don't have to punish a lot, I have to consistently guide. When our daughter has a violent outburst, I don't punish her, I guide her through it (although to those who don't live here, some of it may seem like punishment).

 

We are free, but NOT pushovers. You are not allowed to hurt us, to break our stuff, to do very dangerous things, and we will make you stop if you cannot stop yourself. DD1 has anxiety disorder, so we do have to push her sometimes. But it's a gentle push with our hands on her back, not a shove off a cliff. A life vest in the water until you feel safe, not a toss off the diving board. I know some of what I said sounds like feel-good mush that is not a real answer, but we have tried a ton of different things to get dd1 to stop hitting us, use nice words, help around the house, and obey us more. We are not at the better point we are at now b/c we sat around and meditated on it. It was pure trial and error with lots of advice from lots of people. She currently has a chore chart that involves a daily & weekly reward and that has been the ONLY system we've implemented that has actually gotten her to do simple things like get dressed without heaps of drama. I know a lot of people here don't like the idea of bribes, and that's great for you if your family is functioning without them. One of our children can live without them and one cannot.


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