You HAVE to do things... (spin-off) - Page 15 - Mothering Forums

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#421 of 434 Old 08-26-2006, 10:51 PM
 
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Bumping this thread as one of my favorites.


Pat

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#422 of 434 Old 08-27-2006, 12:59 AM
 
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I have not read the entire thread (I am on page 5) but I wanted to ask a question/make a comment.

My nearly 3 year old son generally responds well to choices, non-coercive parenting techniques, etc. However, there are times, generally when he is overtired or hungry, when he needs ME to take control of him. He doesn't understand why he is upset. He doesn't understand that his loss of control over his emotions is due to a blood sugar crash. All he knows is that he is an emotional mess. And even though he protests, I know that he wants me to come in and take control - if that means picking him up and removing him from a situation (and getting him something to eat or sitting down for a little nurse/rest), then that is what I do.

I know what this feels like - when I was pregnant with him, I suffered from pregnancy induced hypoglycemia. I had to eat every three hours or I would have a massive sugar crash.

One day, I was having a crash and my brain spun out of control. I was literally sobbing to dh, saying "I am hungry, so hungry. feed me."

And he sat there giving me CHOICES. I didn't want choices. I couldn't handle choices. My brain was incapable of making a decision. Instead, I needed him to take control, make me eat something (anything with protein would have been fine) and basically take care of me.

The situation only resolved itself because dh finally got so frustrated he took a piece of cheese from the fridge and threw it at me, saying "eat this!".

And I did. And I got my brain back.

So as a PP said, I never say never. My parenting philosophy is based on respect for my children as people. Respect for their needs, including learning how to negotiate, learning how to make decisions, and learning to demand respect. Learning how to respect others and learning how to work with the limitations we all face in life.

But it also includes me taking charge when the situation warrents it. That is because they are children and have imperfect knowledge and imperfect emotional control. As they grow older and gain more of both, I need to step in less and less.

My 2 cents.

Siobhan

You know the attributes for a great adult? Initiative, creativity, intellectual curiosity? They make for a helluva kid...
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#423 of 434 Old 08-27-2006, 01:35 AM
 
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Originally Posted by johub
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
Good points. You didn't exactly say what I was thinking, so I'll add that some children are actually uncomfortable with unlimited choices and feel very insecure without limited choices ie boundaries.

Another thought -- is this an example of controlling a child or controlling a child's environment? When my children added solid food to compliment the milk they got from me, I offered them age appropriate choices from our family's table. Food is one area where I feel very uncomfortable exerting any control at all, though I've found that everyone in our household is on a more even keel if I do set limits. But I didn't offer every possible food at every possible meal or snack time, and I didn't start buying things at the store just so that my kids could have the benefit of unlimited choices -- there are some products that I never buy and I didn't begin to just because I had kids. Is it controlling to never have, for instance, twinkies as an option? Really no one has unlimited choices, do they? They can choose from what's available. At some point, we decide to call it "controlling" if what's available is however limited describes "controlling" by our standards.

One thing that springs to mind is that I don't think that my kids are really aware of "white bread" as an option. I've never eaten it, I've never bought it, my mom never served it to me. We just buy what we buy, I explain what I look for on the label (which usually means one brand of whole wheat bread has corn syrup so we avoid it and choose another brand that doesn't,) and it's not an issue. But was it controlling of me to not offer white bread, whole wheat bread, a variety of bagels, croissants, etc. etc. ?
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#424 of 434 Old 08-27-2006, 11:04 AM
 
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Originally Posted by sparklefairy

Another thought -- is this an example of controlling a child or controlling a child's environment? When my children added solid food to compliment the milk they got from me, I offered them age appropriate choices from our family's table.
and further to this point, is it controlling to not make a special meal for the child just because he wants it? I mean, to use an example from early in the thread, when the kid asks for a banana split - is HE going to make it or are you?

My brother did this all the time and (in my opinion) my mother was waaaaaaay to accomodating of his whims. He used food to control her - he'd refuse to eat whatever she had prepared and demand to eat something else - and she'd go off and make it for him. It was incredibly inconsiderate, in my mind.

And he does this with his wife - she told me she works hard to make him food he likes, only to have him come home and demand something else or be critical of her cooking. I told her to bitch slap him next time he did it (yeah, it really pisses me off).

BTW, it didn't start with my brother - it started with my dad. I never noticed it as a child because I was used to it, but a friend spending Christmas with us pointed out to me how my mom and my dad's sisters practically hovered around my dad over breakfast, refilling his coffee cup, his orange juice glass, running off to make him eggs and toast (or they would even "redo" them because the toast wasn't done "right").

So when I read these threads about "not limiting choices" for kids, these dinner table scenes during my childhood are exactly what I envision - the men in my family getting exactly what they wanted, whenever they wanted it, and expecting the women of the family to provide it.

You can see why it gets my back up...

Siobhan

You know the attributes for a great adult? Initiative, creativity, intellectual curiosity? They make for a helluva kid...
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#425 of 434 Old 08-27-2006, 12:04 PM
 
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Let's keep in mind the philosophy of this board.

Gentle Discipline is based on loving guidance.

Unlimited choices (living without "have to's") are concepts some may want to explore. Misunderstandings may occur when new readers wonder if this view is necessary to Gentle Discipline. From the description of GD in this Forum:

Quote:
Effective discipline is based on loving guidance. It is based on the belief that children are born innately good and that our role as parents is to nurture their spirits as they learn about limits and boundaries, rather than to curb their tendencies toward wrongdoing. Effective discipline presumes that children have reasons for their behavior and that cooperation can be engaged to solve shared problems.
Please keep this in mind while exploring the concepts of this thread.

Mother is the word for God on the hearts and lips of all little children--William Makepeace Thackeray
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#426 of 434 Old 08-27-2006, 12:17 PM
 
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Gentle Discipline is based on loving guidance.
Yes, certainly, not "having to" do something you don't want to do doesn't preclude "loving guidance".




Quote:
Unlimited choices (living without "have to's")
Don't you believe that these are two very different things? Unlimited choices do not exist naturally in life. There are natural limitations. The discussion is related to imposing "have to"s on our children. We actually don't have things imposed upon us that we "have to do".


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#427 of 434 Old 08-27-2006, 12:43 PM
 
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Scubamama, Gentle Discipline works for parent created as well as environment created limits and boundaries. It is fine to explore life without parent created "have to's" in this thread. However, that isn't a necessary aspect of Gentle Discipline, and I have posted a reminder for the benefit of new readers. If there are any questions, please send me a PM.

Thanks for understanding,

Heartmama

Mother is the word for God on the hearts and lips of all little children--William Makepeace Thackeray
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#428 of 434 Old 08-27-2006, 01:06 PM
 
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Gentle Discipline works for parent created as well as environment created limits and boundaries
Quote:
Effective discipline is based on loving guidance. It is based on the belief that children are born innately good and that our role as parents is to nurture their spirits as they learn about limits and boundaries, rather than to curb their tendencies toward wrongdoing. Effective discipline presumes that children have reasons for their behavior and that cooperation can be engaged to solve shared problems.
This interpretation seems in contradition to the Gentle Discipline forum guidelines that you quoted. Please see my bold. Guidance is not the same as "parent created limits and boundaries". Nor is *imposing* limits and boundaries the same at "nurture their spirits as they learn about limits and boundaries. There is a specific emphasis on NOT "curbing tendencies toward wrongdoing". And presumes that cooperation not imposing can be engaged.

Perhaps, your interpretation is different? I would love to understand more accurately for the benefit of the forum's awareness, not only my own.


Thank you for the discussion.

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#429 of 434 Old 08-27-2006, 01:10 PM
 
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Hi Scubamama,

Please PM me with any questions about the Forum Guidelines.

Thanks~Heartmama

Mother is the word for God on the hearts and lips of all little children--William Makepeace Thackeray
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#430 of 434 Old 08-28-2006, 12:30 AM
 
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A few musings on a glass of wine and staying up too late.

There have been multiple references to a child's autonomy.

I conjecture that a child has no true autonomy - and that human autonomy is limited at best. We are social creatures - we crave and thrive on social interaction. Solitary confinement is one of the cruelist forms of punishment our incarceration system metes out. Social ostracization is one of the most common forms of punishment for human misbehavior throughout known history - and directly referenced in the Bible starting with Cain.

In short, humans cannot survive 100% independently. In fact, the West is rather unusual in our quest for independence and our focus on the individual. In Japan, for example, it is assumed that the child needs to be integrated into the family, not made independent.

In parts of West Africa I am familiar with, a child is considered as an integral part of his family - "owned" for lack of a better word, but that relationship contains obligations from the family as well as to the family. People who leave the family are described as lost or cut off, and often described as mentally ill.

Even in the US, we talk about family, communities, networks, and tribes. We need these as much as we need air and water.

Financially, logistically, and economically in the US, child cannot survive without some sort of adult caretakers until at least age 16, when the child is allowed to work. It might be earlier in other societies, if the child is given decent survival skills.

From a biological standpoint, the parent/child relationship is parasitic.

Therefore, there is NO equality between parent and child. There cannot be equality, because parent and child are not equals.

This does not mean the child has no rights - on the contrary, the child is extremely vulnerable and has more needs and fewer options than an adult. But it also means the adult has more responsibilities over the child.

My time in Senegal was very illuminating as I realized that an asymetrical power relationship does not necessarily mean the more powerful person always dominates and the weaker person is subordinate. There is power in subordination. There is responsibility in power. And these obligations are reinforced by our communities.

Does this mean I get to lord it over my kids and enforce my will? Of course not. I have an obligation to treat them with respect due to all humans, especially my own kin. I have an obligation to love them and nurture them and help them learn how to be healthy adults with choices and skills.

But frankly, I am very comfortable in exerting authority in my family. Because it is my obligation. Accompanying power is a great and deep responsibility to use that power wisely. Abdicating that authority is, in my opinion, not a responsible use of it.

My two cents.

Siobhan

You know the attributes for a great adult? Initiative, creativity, intellectual curiosity? They make for a helluva kid...
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#431 of 434 Old 08-28-2006, 01:08 AM
 
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Siobhang,

Succinctly, I believe that the parent/child relationship is symbiotic, not parasitic. I have gained significantly (growth and development, and joy) from being in relationship with a child. I feel our child has probably gained as much. I agree that we are an interdependent species, but that autonomy over one's own body and choices can co-exist in a consent based relationship, imo. If you are interested in exploring consensual relationships, please consider the Consensual Living yahoo group: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Consensual-living/ Or the Consensual Living Tribe: http://www.mothering.com/discussions...ght=consensual

Introducing choices and refusing choices are very different. We consensually avoid dairy, wheat, soy, artificial colors, flavors, preservatives, high fructose corn syrup, GMOs, antibiotic treated meat and eat significant amounts of organic. Our son is 5, eats whatever he wants: banana split for breakfast hasn't been requested, or offered. But, it wouldn't be refused either.

Supporting someone who is not feeling well does not necessitate imposing force. Proactive and attuned attentiveness to cues of needing support are very beneficial to our parent/child relationship. My goal is to not usurp our child's inherent autonomy, rather to support his growing self-awareness and self-control through honoring his self-determination. If the parent/child relationship feels out of balance, (ie. the parent is "sacrificing" or the child is dissenting, resisting, protesting, contrary, "defiant", "obstinate", etc.) the communication of their needs is apparently not being effectively communicated, heard, supported or honored, imo. I believe that mutually agreeable solutions which honor the parent, AND the child's choices can be found.

The communciation tools of NVC are very helpful in understanding and communicating underlying needs, feelings and making requests, rather than demands of others.
http://www.cnvc.org/motherin.htm
http://www.cnvc.org/hearyes.htm
http://www.cnvc.org/raisekds.htm




HTH, Pat

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#432 of 434 Old 08-28-2006, 03:23 PM
 
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Originally Posted by siobhang
Does this mean I get to lord it over my kids and enforce my will? Of course not. I have an obligation to treat them with respect due to all humans, especially my own kin. I have an obligation to love them and nurture them and help them learn how to be healthy adults with choices and skills.

But frankly, I am very comfortable in exerting authority in my family. Because it is my obligation. Accompanying power is a great and deep responsibility to use that power wisely. Abdicating that authority is, in my opinion, not a responsible use of it.

My two cents.

Siobhan
Loved this post, Siobhan! That is exactly how I feel.
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#433 of 434 Old 08-28-2006, 03:24 PM
 
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Loved this post, Siobhan! That is exactly how I feel.
me too! great post!
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#434 of 434 Old 08-28-2006, 04:28 PM
 
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thanks!

Pat, thanks for the links and for the continued explanation/discussion.

I guess we will have to agree to disagree because I truly believe that a child is *incapable* of giving true consent. As the child grows older and more mature, his/her capacity to truly consent grows, and should be respected by the adults. I don't agree with the legal requirement that a child be 18 to be capable of consent, but I do not think that therefore a child of 5 is capable.

There will be some adults incapable of giving consent. My mother, during her last week of her life, was incapable of consenting to any decisions about her care - my father (and my extension me and my brother) had the authority to make decisions on her behalf. This is no different, in my opinion, than decisions I make every day on behalf of my children.

I also wanted to add something else that came to me last night.

I find these discussions about non-coercion to be very very useful. I have become much more mindful of when I do use coercion - and so far it seems to be limited to three circumstances:

* when there is an imminent danger (child running out into the road)
* when my child is beyond the point of self-control (i.e. over tired, afraid, hungry, etc)
* when I have not handled a situation very well - especially when *I* am overtired, hungry, frustrated, etc.

I think coercion just flat out doesn't work well in parenting as a sustainable technique. It doesn't teach anything other than "do as I tell you to do".

Frankly, the amount of out and out control we can have over another person is pretty minimal. Resorting to coercion is a good indication that other forms of teaching and communication are not working.

Thanks for the conversation and I look forward to hearing other people's thoughts.

Edited for clarity.

You know the attributes for a great adult? Initiative, creativity, intellectual curiosity? They make for a helluva kid...
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