Unconditional Parenting Guiding Principles, per Alfie Kohn - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 52 Old 11-10-2005, 04:42 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Unconditional Parenting is a paradigm shift from authoritative parenting to collaborative relationships. Alfie Kohn has written a well documented and research annotated book about parenting without judgement. These are the 13 Guiding Principles:

Be reflective
Reconsider your requests
Keep your eye on your long-term goals
Put the relationship first
Change how you see, not just how you act
Respect
Be authentic
Talk less, ask more
Keep their ages in mind
Attribute to children the best possible motive consistent with the facts
Don't stick your no's in unnecessarily
Don't be rigid
Don't be in a hurry

There is an Unconditional Parenting tribe in the forum "Finding Your Tribe" if you would like more information about putting your relationship first.

Pat

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#2 of 52 Old 11-10-2005, 05:04 PM
 
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Hi Pat,

I'm glad you started this thread! Because I had a question for you...

Last Saturday I spent the afternoon doing things that dd enjoys. We came home at 3:30 pm and needed to leave with dh at 4pm so we could go to his hockey game and then out to eat with his team and their families (I was going to bring snacks for dd to eat at the game since it would be sort of a late dinner). This is one of the few hockey games we could attend this year as most are very late. At 3:30 dd says she does not want to go. I tried asking her why she didn't want to go, and she just kept saying she wanted to stay home. I thought she'd enjoy it - we went last year and she had fun playing with the children of the other players.

Anyways, to make a long story short, my husband ended up going without us. He would have preferred just to push her into it and haul her to the car - and she probably would have had fun. Not to put this on you at all, but I was thinking about the stuff you have written here and how I didn't want her to go if she didn't want to. It was too late to get a babysitter.

I ended up being sad about missing the evening I was looking forward to, and feeling somewhat resentful towards her, especially since she had had her fun earlier that day. Luckily I was able to get over it and we had a nice evening at home together.

But it made me realize that I am willing so often to do things that I don't want to do for myself but do for her so that she will have fun, but she doesn't really have that capacity yet. I will never get to do what I want to do unless she also wants to do it if I operate this way - she cannot compromise the way many adults are willing to do.

What do you say to this? That it is the age she is at (3 years, 9 months), will grow out of it, it won't always be like this?

Thanks in advance for your input. I'll clarify as needed.

BTW, I love the list. Funny, I was just telling my mom yesterday (not that I don't have my own faults) that she always interprets people's actions in the most negative way (she is starting to do this with my dd) and there it is on your list - to attribute the most positive motive possible! I whole-heartedly agree with that. There is something similar in psychology called reframing.

~Tracy

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#3 of 52 Old 11-10-2005, 05:25 PM
 
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Ooh, I just read this quote from the UP tribal forum:

Quote:
"...But parental self-sacrifice is an insidious form of conditionality that diminishes both parent and child. Its true colors are exposed when the self-sacrificing parent eventually snaps and says, “How can you treat me that way after all I’ve sacrificed for you!?”
Yup, that is what happened to me on Saturday - not good. So I needed to find a solution that made us both happy? It was hard given the limited time (again from the list - was in a hurry!).

This is a wonderful concept, hard to actually grasp and put into reality.

BTW Pat, I love the way you are gentle to other posters too - I appreciate that and is part of why I keep looking for your posts even if I don't understand and/or can't decide if I agree with what you are saying. If you are right though, yours would seem like the way to go!

I'm on pg 178 of "How to talk so your kids...". This will be the first parenting book I will have read cover to cover.

Sorry so fragmented - pg brain.
~Tracy

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#4 of 52 Old 11-10-2005, 06:40 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Wugmama
Hi Pat,

I'm glad you started this thread! Because I had a question for you...

Last Saturday I spent the afternoon doing things that dd enjoys. We came home at 3:30 pm and needed to leave with dh at 4pm so we could go to his hockey game and then out to eat with his team and their families (I was going to bring snacks for dd to eat at the game since it would be sort of a late dinner). This is one of the few hockey games we could attend this year as most are very late. At 3:30 dd says she does not want to go. I tried asking her why she didn't want to go, and she just kept saying she wanted to stay home. I thought she'd enjoy it - we went last year and she had fun playing with the children of the other players.

Anyways, to make a long story short, my husband ended up going without us. He would have preferred just to push her into it and haul her to the car - and she probably would have had fun. Not to put this on you at all, but I was thinking about the stuff you have written here and how I didn't want her to go if she didn't want to. It was too late to get a babysitter.

I ended up being sad about missing the evening I was looking forward to, and feeling somewhat resentful towards her, especially since she had had her fun earlier that day. Luckily I was able to get over it and we had a nice evening at home together.

But it made me realize that I am willing so often to do things that I don't want to do for myself but do for her so that she will have fun, but she doesn't really have that capacity yet. I will never get to do what I want to do unless she also wants to do it if I operate this way - she cannot compromise the way many adults are willing to do.

What do you say to this? That it is the age she is at (3 years, 9 months), will grow out of it, it won't always be like this?

Thanks in advance for your input. I'll clarify as needed.

BTW, I love the list. Funny, I was just telling my mom yesterday (not that I don't have my own faults) that she always interprets people's actions in the most negative way (she is starting to do this with my dd) and there it is on your list - to attribute the most positive motive possible! I whole-heartedly agree with that. There is something similar in psychology called reframing.

~Tracy


I have a question. Please do not think I am criticizing you, because I am not. I do not tell anyone how to live or how to raise their kids.

How does letting her rule where you all go and what you do teach her anything? What about if she does not want to go to the doctor if she is ill? I mean, although she is young, would it not be better to start teaching children at a young age that sometimes we have to do things and go places that we do not want to do and go?

Again, I am new to a lot of these methods of discipline. I do not spank and do not yell anymore, but I have a hard time understanding how people can let their children do what they want at all times, or so it seems to a newbie.

Once again, I am not trying to be rude. I honestly am asking out of curiosity, not malice or of a critical nature. If you could be so kind as to explain, I would greatly appreciate it.
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#5 of 52 Old 11-10-2005, 07:16 PM
 
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Originally Posted by TinkerBelle
I have a question. Please do not think I am criticizing you, because I am not. I do not tell anyone how to live or how to raise their kids.

How does letting her rule where you all go and what you do teach her anything? What about if she does not want to go to the doctor if she is ill? I mean, although she is young, would it not be better to start teaching children at a young age that sometimes we have to do things and go places that we do not want to do and go?

Again, I am new to a lot of these methods of discipline. I do not spank and do not yell anymore, but I have a hard time understanding how people can let their children do what they want at all times, or so it seems to a newbie.

Once again, I am not trying to be rude. I honestly am asking out of curiosity, not malice or of a critical nature. If you could be so kind as to explain, I would greatly appreciate it.
Of course, children have to occasionally do something that they don't want to do. The real question is why is what the parent wants to do more important than what the child wants to do? The child needs more consideration than the adult simply from being less mature, having greater sleep needs, and needing to eat more frequently. To teach a child to be compassionate, it has to be modeled. One of the best ways to do this is to treat them with respect. No one lets a child do what they want all the time. It is simply impossible. I let my child do what he wants when it is possible and doesn't cause harm or damage.

To the pp with the hockey game dilemma, it might help to schedule the day with more down time if there is something that you definitely want to do. My ds, like many young ones, doesn't like to rush or leave places shortly after arrival. There isn't really a right answer because it depends on how strongly you, dh, and dd all feel about it.

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#6 of 52 Old 11-10-2005, 07:26 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wugmama
Ooh, I just read this quote from the UP tribal forum:



Yup, that is what happened to me on Saturday - not good. So I needed to find a solution that made us both happy? It was hard given the limited time (again from the list - was in a hurry!).

This is a wonderful concept, hard to actually grasp and put into reality.

BTW Pat, I love the way you are gentle to other posters too - I appreciate that and is part of why I keep looking for your posts even if I don't understand and/or can't decide if I agree with what you are saying. If you are right though, yours would seem like the way to go!

I'm on pg 178 of "How to talk so your kids...". This will be the first parenting book I will have read cover to cover.

Sorry so fragmented - pg brain.
~Tracy
I am going to tackle the principle before the specifics. Yes, discovering what the underlying needs are for both of you (all three) and work to create a mutually agreeable solution. This takes more time when one is not aware of what each other's priorities and needs are. It is much easier once finding a mutually agreeable solution is a common practice of conflict resolution. For instance, if I know a friend is vegetarian, I learn to offer restaurant options that don't only serve steak and potatos. But at first, if I don't know that she doesn't eat meat, I might offer umpteen different restaurants and she keeps refusing them but I don't understand the underlying need. Time pressures certainly limit the opportunity to focus on the underlying need.

Btw, there is no "right" way to interact with each other, imo. There are ways that are more or less mutually agreeable and more or less respectful of eaches' autonomy and preferences. It depends upon whether your goal is to model negotiating for win-win or are comfortable with win-lose solutions. Win-lose solutions are easy to impose on smaller people. Win-lose solutions become more difficult to dictate as a child becomes more independent and larger. My goal is for our relationship is for it to be a win-win for both of us. As is my goal for all my relationships with other people. I believe the issue is 'what is the most efficient way to get to win-win?' This takes practice and connectivity with the needs of each other and modelling consideration of other's needs. Unless you have ESP.

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#7 of 52 Old 11-10-2005, 08:45 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I am going to go through your post and offer ideas where you might have sought more 'buy in', clarified your plans/needs and clarified her plans/needs. I was not there, but it sounds like expectations of each other occurred without discussing what each needed. That is why I say "plans" because it doesn't sound like *needs* were identified?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wugmama
Last Saturday I spent the afternoon doing things that dd enjoys.
Did she feel these were fun things or things 'done for her' that required your assistance? Basically, going to buy school supplies, shoes and a winter coat might apply in the second case but not the first. Did you spend more time than was intended or was a tight schedule planned? Did you discuss the tight schedule? More importantly had the evening plans been discussed with her in advance and she had agreed that going was something she wanted to do or she changed her mind at the last minute? Was the evening plan something that incorporated her needs or was it a 'family event' that she was expected to participate in and 'probably' have fun?


Quote:
We came home at 3:30 pm and needed to leave with dh at 4pm so we could go to his hockey game and then out to eat with his team and their families (I was going to bring snacks for dd to eat at the game since it would be sort of a late dinner). This is one of the few hockey games we could attend this year as most are very late. At 3:30 dd says she does not want to go. I tried asking her why she didn't want to go, and she just kept saying she wanted to stay home. I thought she'd enjoy it - we went last year and she had fun playing with the children of the other players.
What I have observed with our son is that he likes going out for activities (for himself or along with us) and then he *needs* down time at home to reconnect with familiar territory, his things, known expectations, decreased stimuli and an opportunity to process all the new experiences and dynamics that he has just encountered. He *needs* to recenter and does not want to go to anything for some extended duration, no matter how familiar, fun and exciting it previously was for him. Even if he has had a fun filled day himself, going away from home is hard for him to separate from the peace, calm and familiarity of a 'known quantity'.

One thing we have done is to plan not to make the stop home and instead move on from one activity to another to avoid the 'getting stuck at home because we are here I want to stay' effect. This requires more planning in advance. Another thing that has worked is for only a quick, 'let's not get out of the car' run in and get what was forgotten stop at home (iffy, if it has been a long day out). Or for one of us to stop and pick up what is needed while the other (with child) goes on to the event or meet up somewhere (dh's office, for example) to ride together.

Another option is not to plan long outings on the days where additional 'family events' are desired later in the day. Or plan for a long reconnection time at home after a short morning outing, before going out in the evening together. Basically, as our son has the autonomy to decide whether he does or doesn't want to leave home, just as I do, I have observed patterns reflecting his needs. As he has become older, I am able to discuss his needs and what my needs are.

Perhaps, you and dd could have gone to part of the hockey game, gone later, or left early, skipped the dinner, done dinner only, gone out for something else fun with dd (then or later) and then discussed stopping by the hockey game, or the fun dinner part, brought a friend along, invited another family of one of her friends to come to the game too, called for a babysitter to come stay with her so you could attend part of the game or the dinner, had a familar/fun babysitter come along to play with her, brought favorite toys along, stopped for ice cream in route, etc. There are many, many possiblitites depending upon what is important to her and your underlying needs.


Quote:
Anyways, to make a long story short, my husband ended up going without us. He would have preferred just to push her into it and haul her to the car - and she probably would have had fun. Not to put this on you at all, but I was thinking about the stuff you have written here and how I didn't want her to go if she didn't want to. It was too late to get a babysitter.

I ended up being sad about missing the evening I was looking forward to, and feeling somewhat resentful towards her, especially since she had had her fun earlier that day. Luckily I was able to get over it and we had a nice evening at home together.
I ask myself 'what is the point?' when sometimes I think to myself 'GET IN THE CAR, NOW!! WE ARE GOING TO HAVE FUN!!!' I don't think that would work for me to 'have fun' if dh told me even if we were going to my favorite place. I would resent the force or coercion to participate. That would taint my experience and our relationship.

I am delighted that you ended up enjoying the evening. How you felt when you felt like you had no choice available to you, is probably how your daughter feels when she has no choice available to her. But you did have choices and one of those was to stay home and have a special quiet, separate or fun engaging time together with your daughter. Maybe make cookies for Daddy, or plan a surprise visit with him at the dinner (in kahoots, together). Creating a relationship where her feelings and needs matter to you takes time, investing that time as an intentional choice means evaluating your priorities and being happy with the choice you make. The issue is you had a choice and she did too. Win-win is possible; but you 'gave in' in your mind, without discovering what might work for both of you. Sometimes what is most important to me is not to force our child to do things against his will. This is a huge value to me because I believe it impacts not only our curret and future relationship, but his future ability to negotiate in relationships for mutually agreeable solutions. I don't know how he can learn this if I model using the tools of coercion against him.


Quote:
But it made me realize that I am willing so often to do things that I don't want to do for myself but do for her so that she will have fun, but she doesn't really have that capacity yet. I will never get to do what I want to do unless she also wants to do it if I operate this way - she cannot compromise the way many adults are willing to do.

What do you say to this? That it is the age she is at (3 years, 9 months), will grow out of it, it won't always be like this?
Well, we don't use coercion with our son and he is able to negotiate for mutually agreeable solutions. Not perfectly and not consistently, but he has done this well for most of a year. He is 4.3 y/o. He is least able to hear and consider our needs when he is tired and/or hungry. I recognaize that these are not optimal discussion opportunities for making transition decisions or changes. Perhaps your daughter might have been more able to hear your needs after a nap or a snack. I am very curious if you discussed it further with her, or festered inside yourself? I am quite authentic with my feelings and expressing my needs. But I am very, very, very selective at telling ds that something is "really important to me", so that this phrase is not overused. I would say there have been only about half a dozen times when I have said this in the past year, and he was able to hear my need, over his own even. Most times, he offers workable suggestions that are impossible to dismiss because they *are* realistic and include meeting my need. He is quite adept at negotiating for common preferences because we do it all the time. Not as a struggle or as adversaries, but as a team seeking a solution together.

Quote:
Thanks in advance for your input. I'll clarify as needed.

BTW, I love the list. Funny, I was just telling my mom yesterday (not that I don't have my own faults) that she always interprets people's actions in the most negative way (she is starting to do this with my dd) and there it is on your list - to attribute the most positive motive possible! I whole-heartedly agree with that. There is something similar in psychology called reframing.
Reframing something when you believe "you have to do xyz" is pretty hard. Reframing things when you actually have a choice is much easier. I believe we always have a choice, except for children, "of course". Our son has a choice. So do I. I choose not to coerce others and I seek common preferences instead.

HTH, Pat

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#8 of 52 Old 11-11-2005, 12:50 AM
 
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Originally Posted by 4evermom
Of course, children have to occasionally do something that they don't want to do. The real question is why is what the parent wants to do more important than what the child wants to do? The child needs more consideration than the adult simply from being less mature, having greater sleep needs, and needing to eat more frequently. To teach a child to be compassionate, it has to be modeled. One of the best ways to do this is to treat them with respect. No one lets a child do what they want all the time. It is simply impossible. I let my child do what he wants when it is possible and doesn't cause harm or damage.
Here, here. Its been a while since I read the book, but I seem to recall a section where he states so on target, just how NOT in control kids are of their own lives even in families who are respectful of their childrens point of view. I consider myself this type of parent. I allow DS to have a say. I have allowed him to have his ice cream sundae (a Sunday tradition at our house) at 8 in the morning. I've made a bowl of popcorn at 7am and we sat and watched the movie I assumed we'd watch at 7 at night. Bedtime is important, but I'm willing to negotiate if he's working on something and needs more time and the household is relaxed (i.e., he's not over-tired and miserable). When we're at the park or out on a walk, I let DS lead. We may end up there 20 minutes or 3 hours and if its later than I figured, its an excuse not to make dinner and use the take-out pizza coupons. DS has long hair and he isn't getting cut "ever." It's his hair... I could go on and on.

OTOH, if I were to go through a week or a day with DS, I'm surely to find MANY upon MANY areas where DS is at my or DH's mercy. I'm the one who took on babysitting jobs, DH has to work all day everyday, dinner is served when I fix it, mommy and daddy's band has a responsibility to honor the gigs we've arranged and DS just simply doesn't have a say there--heck, DH and I don't, we're at the mercy of club owners. The weekly schedule is indeed in many ways based upon the things *I* need to get done and we work around that. And of course, those places where we consistently draw the line: safety and the rights of others.

I think Kohn's major point here is simply that if you look at all the things we *do* control about a child's life (and I actually did do a mental check list one day and was REALLY surprised), there is no reason to CREATE things to teach the lesson of "you can't always be in control of things." And perhaps, there are some things we are controlling that we ought NOT to control.

My favorite point of his 13 Guiding Principles is definitely "reconsider your requests." One thing I've found rather consistently is that when DS is balking at a request, I can see things about it (or my delivery, or perhaps our overall connection) which are simple not working for any number of reasons. And yes, I have definitely reconsidered my requests on numerous occasions.

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#9 of 52 Old 11-11-2005, 01:31 AM
 
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Originally Posted by scubamama
Unconditional Parenting is a paradigm shift from authoritative parenting to collaborative relationships. Alfie Kohn has written a well documented and research annotated book about parenting without judgement. These are the 13 Guiding Principles:

Be reflective
Reconsider your requests
Keep your eye on your long-term goals
Put the relationship first
Change how you see, not just how you act
Respect
Be authentic
Talk less, ask more
Keep their ages in mind
Attribute to children the best possible motive consistent with the facts
Don't stick your no's in unnecessarily
Don't be rigid
Don't be in a hurry


Pat
This is very interesting to me. I have been reluctant to read UP as a result of so many of the threads here which make it seem in complete opposition to my view of things. And yet if these are the "Guiding Principles" I feel very strongly that these very principles are very important to my relationship with my children as well.
It is interesting how we can take the same principles and live them in such different ways (and I am sure interpret them in such different ways)
Again I have not read UP, and am not likely to. However I am glad to hear that the differences arent nearly as polarized as they seem here in some of these threads.
Joline
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#10 of 52 Old 11-11-2005, 02:23 AM
 
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slightly OT: johub, I think you might enjoy the book. I enjoy/agree with a lot of your posts here and I enjoyed the book a lot. I'm not saying I think Kohn is the Messiah, but it was a very thought-provoking read and I felt I got a lot from it.

grateful mother to DD, 1/04, and DS, 2/08

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#11 of 52 Old 11-11-2005, 02:45 AM
 
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You are probably right. I am so turned off by what others say he has said, or how they interpret it,that I havent been willing to check it out for myself.
On the other hand I do have Punished by Rewards and I have read a lot of his articles online and I do think he makes some intelligent and valid points.
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#12 of 52 Old 11-11-2005, 11:02 AM
 
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Hi TinkerBelle!

The questions you have asked me are the same questions I am trying to ask Pat! I haven't been reading this board very long but there are a number of mamas (and the list is growing) that I admire and whose POV I admire, including Pat (Scubamama) and Joline. So I have been trying a bit to take what I THINK Pat is saying and try it at home - even though I am not sure I totally understand or even agree with everything she has said. It sounds good though... So refer to her answers, and 4evermom's and Embees, and believe you me, I have the same questions you asked! The thought of win-win scenarios, if possible, is too irresistible not to investigate though!


~Tracy

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#13 of 52 Old 11-11-2005, 11:03 AM
 
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4evermom and Em, I like what you guys added - it seems very on topic with the original post but expands and clarifies for me - thanks! I love it when stuff "makes sense"!


~Tracy

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#14 of 52 Old 11-11-2005, 11:33 AM
 
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Hi Pat,

Thanks for all the time you took to yet again address one of my dilemmas!

Quote:
Creating a relationship where her feelings and needs matter to you takes time, investing that time as an intentional choice means evaluating your priorities and being happy with the choice you make. The issue is you had a choice and she did too. Win-win is possible; but you 'gave in' in your mind, without discovering what might work for both of you. Sometimes what is most important to me is not to force our child to do things against his will. This is a huge value to me because I believe it impacts not only our curret and future relationship, but his future ability to negotiate in relationships for mutually agreeable solutions. I don't know how he can learn this if I model using the tools of coercion against him.
This is sort of what I was saying when I asked "it won't always be like this". It is easier to make choices that are more considerate of her and less so for myself when I can view them as investments.

We had talked about going to the game and she seemed receptive the day before and earlier in the day. Our early afternoon plans did go over. I had taken her to the movie, "Chicken Little" and she got scared and we left 1/2 way through. I felt so bad that she got scared and didn't enjoy it and wanted to salvage the fun day for her. She said she wanted to go to the mall, so we did, and she went on the merry-go-round there and played a bunch of kid games in the arcade, got tickets and got some green goop. Then we went into the Barnes and Noble and has a snack and she played with her goop. The time got away from me, so we were rushed when we got home, didn't help. I actually needed a shower so jumped in, hoping dh could "negotiate" with her. Didn't work that way. By the time I came down from the shower, it was about time to go, she didn't want to, there wasn't much time to find a win-win, and I wasn't in the best frame of mind to do it - I was feeling stressed by the time as well.

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I am very curious if you discussed it further with her, or festered inside yourself?
I'm not really pleased with how I did handle it. I agree with you and also try to be authentic with my feelings. But keep in mind I'm pretty emotional right now due to being pg. Also, I come from a background where my mom didn't really punish, but did a huge amount of guilt-tripping. I am caught in a place where I believe this is very harmful and never want to do it, yet find myself doing it. So anyways, as we sat on the couch after dh left, tears just started streaming down my face - wasn't trying to make her feel guilty, couldn't help myself (don't usually cry very much when not pg). She asked me what was wrong and I told her I was sad that I didn't get to go to the hockey game. She actually got a kleenex and started to wipe the tears off my face saying she wanted to help me feel better. Boy, did I feel like a heel then for having been irritated at her for me missing the outing. So that right there really turned me around and we did have a nice evening, reading books and took a bath and stuff. I guess you can't say we really processed the situation.

Some of the suggestions you mentioned would have involved pre-planning on my part. I guess this is one of many times that I can learn what to do better next time - it was pretty hard to come up with a win-win 10 minutes before we had to go - should have known better that things could go South based on the time of day, hurriedness, and being out running around before hand.

A true example of reframing the way I meant is this:

Grandma to DD: We have to leave (the park) now.
DD to Grandma: I want to stay!
Grandma: We can stay for 5 more minutes.
DD: How about 100 minutes?

Later, Grandma to me: DD is such a little con-artist! (seems negative to me)
Me trying to help Grandma reframe: She was trying to negotiate a win-win!


~Tracy

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I have a question. Please do not think I am criticizing you, because I am not. I do not tell anyone how to live or how to raise their kids.

How does letting her rule where you all go and what you do teach her anything? What about if she does not want to go to the doctor if she is ill? I mean, although she is young, would it not be better to start teaching children at a young age that sometimes we have to do things and go places that we do not want to do and go?
I grew up in the "rule" matrix too. So, it was very hard for me to envision and conceptualize consensual dynamics outside 'someone wins and somone loses'. The expectation of everyone wins did not exist in our childhood home. Sometimes "we won" and our parents felt put out or that they 'gave in'. Sometimes "they won/we lost" and we felt resentment and anger. But the decision making power for both themselves and us children resided somewhere and it resided with our parents. And compliance wasn't optional. It was enforced in many different ways. Power over others rested in them.

In our home the power of autonomy resides within each individual. No one 'has the power', not child or adult over others. It is a dynamic that nurtures more negotiation skills and consideration of others needs than a unilateral top-down power dynamic. And there are many iterations of more and less autonomous children, varying based upon factors such as safety of self or safety of others to when the child brushes his teeth and what vegetables he is expected to eat or what day he goes to the doctor, etc.

But, in our family no one takes power (to make someone do something they don't want to do) away from the individual. And frankly, I don't agree that "we have to do things and go places we don't want to do and go". Who makes you do these things? Who makes you go to these places? Adults have autonomy over their own life choices. Children generally do not have autonomy over their own bodies even.

And our son hasn't resisted going to the doctor, being safe, being gentle with others, brushing his teeth, eating vegetables, etc. There is no power to resist. We work together to create mutually agreeable solutions which are not conditional upon doing it my way, on my schedule. There is no condition of compliance.

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Again, I am new to a lot of these methods of discipline. I do not spank and do not yell anymore, but I have a hard time understanding how people can let their children do what they want at all times, or so it seems to a newbie.

Once again, I am not trying to be rude. I honestly am asking out of curiosity, not malice or of a critical nature. If you could be so kind as to explain, I would greatly appreciate it.
However, no one does what they want at all times. That is unrealistic and impossible. If I want to fly to the moon, I can't. There are plenty of natural and physical limitations and environmenal boundaries that make "doing what they want at all times" impossible. But, that doesn't mean that people need to be made to do things they don't want to do because it is a condition of being a child to learn that sometimes we can't do what we want. Life teaches this without imposed or artificial limitations from parents.

But, I have a hard time understanding how people can make their children do what they want at all times, especially when a child is communicating that they do not want to do something. There are so many other means of creating win-win solutions instead. And children who are not expected to "have to" do things they don't want to do are very creative, resourceful and effective at suggesting win-win possiblities when they practice this skill all the time. Even parents can become very creative, resourceful and effective at suggesting win-win possibilities when they practice this skill all the time, if they don't default to directed compliance.



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#16 of 52 Old 11-11-2005, 02:49 PM
 
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I grew up in the "rule" matrix too. So, it was very hard for me to envision and conceptualize consensual dynamics outside 'someone wins and somone loses'. The expectation of everyone wins did not exist in our childhood home. Sometimes "we won" and our parents felt put out or that they 'gave in'. Sometimes "they won/we lost" and we felt resentment and anger. But the decision making power for both themselves and us children resided somewhere and it resided with our parents. And compliance wasn't optional. It was enforced in many different ways. Power over others rested in them.

In our home the power of autonomy resides within each individual. No one 'has the power', not child or adult over others. It is a dynamic that nurtures more negotiation skills and consideration of others needs than a unilateral top-down power dynamic. And there are many iterations of more and less autonomous children, varying based upon factors such as safety of self or safety of others to when the child brushes his teeth and what vegetables he is expected to eat or what day he goes to the doctor, etc.

But, in our family no one takes power (to make someone do something they don't want to do) away from the individual. And frankly, I don't agree that "we have to do things and go places we don't want to do and go". Who makes you do these things? Who makes you go to these places? Adults have autonomy over their own life choices. Children generally do not have autonomy over their own bodies even.

And our son hasn't resisted going to the doctor, being safe, being gentle with others, brushing his teeth, eating vegetables, etc. There is no power to resist. We work together to create mutually agreeable solutions which are not conditional upon doing it my way, on my schedule. There is no condition of compliance.



However, no one does what they want at all times. That is unrealistic and impossible. If I want to fly to the moon, I can't. There are plenty of natural and physical limitations and environmenal boundaries that make "doing what they want at all times" impossible. But, that doesn't mean that people need to be made to do things they don't want to do because it is a condition of being a child to learn that sometimes we can't do what we want. Life teaches this without imposed or artificial limitations from parents.

But, I have a hard time understanding how people can make their children do what they want at all times, especially when a child is communicating that they do not want to do something. There are so many other means of creating win-win solutions instead. And children who are not expected to "have to" do things they don't want to do are very creative, resourceful and effective at suggesting win-win possiblities when they practice this skill all the time. Even parents can become very creative, resourceful and effective at suggesting win-win possibilities when they practice this skill all the time, if they don't default to directed compliance.



Pat


First of all, I want to thank you for your kind reply. I was not sure if my post would be taken well or not, but I honestly just want to understand.

I know children who are very creative and resourceful whose parents do not practice this type of parenting.

My point is, sure you should not force a child to do things they do not want to do ALL of the time, but if you are kind of parent who does not, as you described yourself to be, then how is this teaching a child about real life. Because, IRL, you sometimes HAVE to do things you do not want to do. There is no bargaining, sometimes, in the real world. Employers are not going to care about your feelings and wants and needs, for the most part, unless you get very lucky.

I am not saying to run your home like a business, but I worry about being too permissive.

Again, thank you for the kind response and explanation.
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#17 of 52 Old 11-11-2005, 03:44 PM - Thread Starter
 
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First of all, I want to thank you for your kind reply. I was not sure if my post would be taken well or not, but I honestly just want to understand.

I know children who are very creative and resourceful whose parents do not practice this type of parenting.

My point is, sure you should not force a child to do things they do not want to do ALL of the time, but if you are kind of parent who does not, as you described yourself to be, then how is this teaching a child about real life. Because, IRL, you sometimes HAVE to do things you do not want to do. There is no bargaining, sometimes, in the real world. Employers are not going to care about your feelings and wants and needs, for the most part, unless you get very lucky.

I am not saying to run your home like a business, but I worry about being too permissive.

Again, thank you for the kind response and explanation.
Of course, children are creative. And the more opportunities they have to creatively problem solve, I would venture the more creatively out-side-the-box they are able to solve problems. With top-down decision making or limited negotiation opportunities, children learn there is one way or limited ways to solve a problem 'inside the box', 'according to Hoyle', the conventional 'this is the way it has always been done', 'according to the parents', etc. And certainly, parents are not stretched to create mutually agreeable solutions if they just default to expecting children "to do what they have to do" according to the parents. Questioning, challenging, negotiating, disputing, defying, opposing, refusing, objecting are not encouraged in many homes. When these occur, and are encouraged, more creative solutions can be found which allow everyone to win.

Employment is a voluntary association to which one can leave or stay based upon one's priorities and the demands of the employment. Children have no other recourse but to comply in many homes. Employment that is non-volitional, such as an indentured servant ought not be compared to the non-volitional situation of a child. I believe the belief system that one "has to do things which they don't want to do" is disempowering and inaccurate. Adults have choices, they can bargain and negotiate, they can choose to dissociate, they can look for other alternatives. Granted choices have limitations and one's priorities may lead one to *choose* to be in a situation where the limitations exist but impinge at times. But to impose limitations which impinge on a child without recourse is not necessary, imo.

I would choose to change my situation if I worked with an employer who did not care about my feelings, wants, or needs, for the most part. My priorities would be for more respect and to be treated with dignity. I believe most people and most employers do treat employees with respect and dignity. And those who don't are not going to keep very many happy and productive employees. There was a recent thread about 'do you do things you don't want to do'.

Permissive is not a construct of treating people with unconditional respect and dignity. Making decisions by consensus where everyone wins is not within the power matrix of authoritarian/permissive. It is one of equality and autonomy. But that is unsettling to those in power, I understand. Especially when the parent finally has the power after years of feeling powerless as a child and having been led to believe they are powerless as an employee because 'you have to do things you don't want to do'. That is a very disempowering life based upon a disempowering belief. When a child lives with the power to make decisions about their own body, with others who have the power to make decisions about their own body, there is no disempowering matrix. One does not believe they "have to"; because they don't.

I certainly do not believe that I have to do things I don't want to do. And I don't. No one will make me do things I don't want to do. Who makes an adult do things you don't want to do? Who makes children do things they don't want to do?

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#18 of 52 Old 11-11-2005, 08:03 PM
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I love your posts Pat, and I completely agree with almost all of them!
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#19 of 52 Old 11-11-2005, 08:19 PM
 
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I love your posts too!

I'm also uncomfortable with the idea that our job as parents is to make our kids good "worker bees" for future employers. That isn't a goal of mine. My goal is that my daughter be happy with whatever life she chooses. Not that she not talk back to or have high expectations of employers.
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#20 of 52 Old 11-11-2005, 08:37 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I love my posts too.



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Edited to add: Thanks.

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#21 of 52 Old 11-11-2005, 08:45 PM
 
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Anyways, to make a long story short, my husband ended up going without us. He would have preferred just to push her into it and haul her to the car - and she probably would have had fun.
Tracy, I admire you for what you did. I really do. I remember the last time we were at the mall, we got in the car and dd (3) did not want to go in her car seat to get home. And I said, well we'll just wait, there is no rush.Because there was not actually any rush to get home. My dh after like 2 minutes lost his temper forced her in her car seat and drove off saying that because he had already paid the parking fee, we would be in trouble soon for not getting out before the 10 minutes had elapsed. I felt hurt, hurt hurt and he was saying it no big deal... There were still 8 minutes to go and so much time for her changing her mind or finding some solution. Or non, in fact, but then it would have at least been honest.
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#22 of 52 Old 11-11-2005, 08:46 PM
 
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I love your posts too!

I'm also uncomfortable with the idea that our job as parents is to make our kids good "worker bees" for future employers. That isn't a goal of mine. My goal is that my daughter be happy with whatever life she chooses. Not that she not talk back to or have high expectations of employers.

That is not what I meant at all. I just know how the real world works and I would not want my children to be totally disillusioned. That is all.
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#23 of 52 Old 11-11-2005, 08:49 PM
 
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I want to commend everyone for being so nice and friendly and helpful. All I want to do is understand how this all works. I want my boys to be happy boys and grow up to be good men.

This is one of the most civil boards I have ever been on.
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#24 of 52 Old 11-11-2005, 08:57 PM
 
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That is not what I meant at all. I just know how the real world works and I would not want my children to be totally disillusioned. That is all.
I didn't mean to single you out, Tinkerbell. This is something I've heard frequently and often, and mainly IRL.

I really don't understand it. I mean, we have to make things hard sometimes so she'll be more likely to easily accept other hard things when they come up later on? I just don't know about that. I'd rather be a soft spot to land early on so when things inevitably get hard I'll always be here as the soft spot to land. If I, as her mother, make things hard when it isn't absolutely necessary, I just don't see how that makes things easier later. Hard things will always be hard. The relationship between a mother and child can't be made close if it wasn't close during childhood.

Also, it seems like the people who are most successful in life are sometimes the people who are least likely to accept being told what to do by employers, etc. I wonder if having my daughter be dissatisfied when things don't go how she thinks they should could be a good thing in some ways. I suppose there's good and bad in all things, but like if she were in a bad relationship she'd be less likely to put up with it and stay, and if she were being taken advantage of by an employer she'd be less likely to put up with that too.

Anyway, I guess it's just another perspective on this. Again, not specifically directed at you, just a reaction to hearing that basic sentiment a number of times from different sources. I can't help wondering if it isn't a saying that we've all heard so often that we just kind of accept it.
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#25 of 52 Old 11-11-2005, 09:02 PM - Thread Starter
 
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That is not what I meant at all. I just know how the real world works and I would not want my children to be totally disillusioned. That is all.

I just want to explore this idea. I consider our son's current happiness as important as some nebulous future happiness. I have a friend whose son was always pushed to get good grades, pushed to study and pushed "to do better", pushed to get into a good college so that he could get a good job so that he would someday be happy. What a disillusionment it was when after all of this, at 19 years old, he was diagnosed with terminal Hodgkin's Disease. Instead, I want each today to be joyful. And if each today is joyful and a priority, how can the future not be focused on joy instead of on some future "disillusionment" that might occur? Why waste today's joy because of some tomorrow's possible disillusionment. I am not disillusioned about joy and autonomy being possible today. Neither is our son.

And if he finds someday that "the real world works" differently and he is "disillusioned", he will have many happy years upon which to reflect about how it can be. But to give up today and tomorrow because of some future possible disillusionment is defeatist and pessimistic, imo. And that is not my real world. And the real world can be changed by our beliefs, our attitude and our actions. Just as mine has been. Just as our son's has been. The power of joy is within, when it isn't taken away.

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#26 of 52 Old 11-11-2005, 09:16 PM - Thread Starter
 
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TinkerBelle,

I wanted to be sure you know I am not directing my post to you, but to the ideas of acting from a place of fear, rather than from a place of love and joy. I was parented from a place of fear. I grew up living from a place of fear. I am choosing to parent and live from a place of love and joy instead. It is a paradigm shift based upon Trusting that the world is a place where love and joy exist. And although hate, pain and fear exist also, they are not where I place my focus or my energy.

And only love prevails.

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#27 of 52 Old 11-12-2005, 02:09 AM
 
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I'm about to give up. Today was "mommy-baby day" - my one day off every other week dedicated to spending time with my dd. I'm too tired to even dump yet another pathetic one of my days on the board. I think I need to see a family therapist with my dd.

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#28 of 52 Old 11-12-2005, 02:58 AM
 
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I really don't understand it. I mean, we have to make things hard sometimes so she'll be more likely to easily accept other hard things when they come up later on? I just don't know about that. I'd rather be a soft spot to land early on so when things inevitably get hard I'll always be here as the soft spot to land. If I, as her mother, make things hard when it isn't absolutely necessary, I just don't see how that makes things easier later. Hard things will always be hard. The relationship between a mother and child can't be made close if it wasn't close during childhood.

I'm not a fan of Kohn or the type of parenting those who like him usually adopt. But, I did agree with the sentiment behind this part of a pp. I've never been fond of the "real world" arguements that defend punishment (or those presented against homeschooling).
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#29 of 52 Old 11-12-2005, 12:20 PM
 
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I just know how the real world works and I would not want my children to be totally disillusioned. That is all.
Hey TinkerBelle, I know exactly where you're coming from here, but would like to suggest another POV. What if, instead, your children grew up feeling that the world is their oyster, and that whatever they wanted to do, they could? And that there are lots of people out there who want to help them do it?

My dad has this view of the world, and he has been amazingly successful, and still is going strong at 63 years old. He's been able to do so many things he wanted, and I think it's largely because he always thinks he can.

This is what I want my children to feel like. I don't want them to have the attitude of "world vs. us".

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#30 of 52 Old 11-12-2005, 01:41 PM
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I also don't agree with the sentiment that children have to know how the real world works so we should do ___ or not do ___ etc...

Believe me, I am quite certain that my child is going to learn how the real world works without me making it tougher for her so that she will know that life isn't always happy and joyful. She will learn this the first time she sees someone spank, or yank, or yell at their child in public. She will learn this the first time a child pushes her down at the playground. She will learn this the first time someone has a comment about her clothing, or her hair, or her looks, or about her being a vegetarian. She will learn this the first time someone gives her a dirty look for simply being a child and doing what children do. She will learn this the first time someone tells her that she has a "fat mommy", or a Daddy who's hair is too long, or when she is listening to something like the Beatles when everyone else is listening to Britney Spears or someone like it. She will learn this the first time other kids make fun of her for not having the latest brand name clothing, or for being homeschooled, or for taking an interest in something that the "herd" is shunning that day. She will learn this the first time she gets treated like an insignificant teen by a power-trippy boss at her first part-time job. She will learn this when a boy (or girl) she likes doesn't return her affection. She will learn this when someone she thought was her friend stabs her in the back. She will learn this when she may not get accepted into the college of her choice. She will learn this when her Grandmom or Grandpop or favorite animal dies....the list goes on and on... I am not suggesting that ALL these things will happen to her, but it is pretty likely that at least a few will, or similar situations that will "teach" her that there are ups and downs in life and that things don't always work the way she, or any of us, would like.

While she is in my home though, and even when she leaves, she will always know that she is enveloped in love, understanding, kindess, respect, and acceptance...and that the people who love her the most will do everything in their power, short of moving the heavens and earth, to make sure she knows that despite all the ugliness and dissapointments and trickery in the world, that it is still a beautiful place where she can learn to be fufilled, secure, and happy despite all of it.

I believe the foundation of that is how we treat her in the years where she is deciding just how to view the world.
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