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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have a hard time reading ANY sort of parenting book.

Children's personalities and needs are as different as our fingerprints! To believe that there is some method or primary discipline technique to fit all children is, at best, naive... and, at worst, quite possibly dangerous.

I truly believe that a parent's intuition is the best and only guide when dealing with little ones. The problem is, unless you can tune into your intuition immediately every time a situation arises, the child can receive mixed messages because there seems to be no black and white when dealing with the strong and sometimes overwhelming emotions of a little one.

I tend to confuse my head with my heart: Most of us were raised in a culture in which people are expected to bow down to and respect authority unquestioningly. And "authority", to most of us, means "listen to the person in charge or your consequences will continue to grow more intense, more physically and/or emotionally uncomfortable, and it doesn't really matter what you have to say on the issue". It can be difficult to override 20, 30, 40 years of social conditioning. So on the one hand, I expect "obedience". OTOH, I recognize the need to really tune in to every child as a unique individual and accept the fact that their feelings are just as real and intense as an adults'.

I sometimes have a very hard time distinguishing when my kids really need me to comfort them and when they are freaking out in an attempt to get what they want. I don't want to "coddle" inappropriate behaviors, but I don't want to be cold and emotionally distant, either. I, myself, have a ton of emotional baggage and a ton of intense crap going on in my own life right now. It seems like no matter how many "breaks" I get from my kids, I still get totally overwhelmed and have a hard time staying focused and keeping my routine and discipline strategies consistent.

Thoughts? Comments? Want to share your own current GD expectations, theories, issues, etc?
 

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First, I get a lot out of reading books about parenting. I was raised in an authoritarian household and with a bit of chaos and quite a bit of spanking. My "intuition" is no longer true intuition because of what I learned growing up. A lot of people think they're parenting instinctively, but what they're doing is repeating the same mistakes of previous generations. I think we can get a lot of benefit out of reading about parenting and challenging our initial assumptions.

Second, I disagree that different children need different parenting styles. I read that all the time, and it sounds good written out, but I think it's simply wrong, and it's the same argument that people use when they say *their* children need to be spanked, or *their* children need to "cry it out" at night. No children benefit from spanking, no children benefit from being left alone to cry, and the flip side of that is that all children benefit from GD and all children benefit from AP. I think it's unfair of you to suggest that people who feel *all* children would benefit from GD are naive or even dangerous.
 

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i find that the parenting books are my greatest resource for creative ideas. i'd like to believe that i was AP and GD (hate labels, but they are useful summaries) all along, but sometimes i feel i am out of ideas. spanking is not an option, but when my usual options do not work, i read a book that i know will inspire me like Becoming the Parent you Want to Be.

i read books that also support my ideas on parenting -- i then feel more confident that i am on the right track.

i read books when i find i am dealing with a lot and cannot see the obvious.

i agree that every child is different, and that not all technique will work for everybody, but the general framework of GD is the framework of respect, and yes, it is applicable to every child.

in an ideal world, parental intuition should be enough. sadly, not everybody has it, and even those who think they do, do not have access to it all the time.

at this point of time my mantra is 'relationship' (the central idea of Hold on to your kids' by Gordon Neufeld)

he says that when we think 'relationship' we do not need specific techniques. we will know naturally what to say. when i first read it, i was 'well, it is nice, but i still want techniques'. mind you i already have read a lot about techniques and was applying many of them consistenly. but still i thought he was wishy-washy on this. and YET it seems to work. whereas before i would not be sure how to respond in certain situations, now the gut feeling takes over, and i somehow know what to say. (not always, of course).

he also made me more at ease about not creating a monster. sometimes i would go with my gut feeling, and think 'omg, what if i am just ruining her' by being not instituting consequences right away, by letting certain things go, by not worrying about 'misbehaviour'.

he talks about needs and needing to meet them. he also says that if we only meet the needs when we are asked, the needs are never satisfied, so we have to offer (emotional needs, not candy LOL). and if we are already asked, then we have to make it even greater. if Ada asks me to read a booki to her, i say oh, great, let's read one book, and then this one too, and cuddle.

thus i feel that i have more of an internal guidance in the situations where i am not sure whether she 'really' needs me or 'manipulates' me. i believe that in the overall environment or respect, responsiveness and attachment, it is much better to err on the othe side -- it is better to seemingly 'give in' into a manipulation, rather than not to respond to genuine need.

in this light, most of her needs ARE genuine. it used to frusrate me when she wanted help with tasks that she knew how to do. now i am much more patient and responsive, because my core believe is that if she asks for help, she does need it.

this is something i wrote 2 months ago in my blog (i want to add that after i consistently started helping her rather than being irritated, she has become much more independent in these little mundane tasks)

>>>Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Dependence and Independence

Being independent is highly praised in our society. "Don't sleep with them, don't hold them, let them cry it out", or they will be dependent on you. "Teach them how to be independent." Yet true independence cannot be taught. It grows out of feeling secure and loved.

I have to admit that I love watching Ada run into a playgroup and feel at ease with even older children. As if I proved them wrong -- look at her, she is not dependent at all. Yet I am acutely aware that if she runs too far she might not even want to come back -- well, not now, but what about in 10 years? Keeping her close, dependent on parental guidance, this is the true challenge in our society.

Yesterday at the new playground by an elementary school Ada came over to an older girl and took her hand. The girl would not have a pesky little one lead her, but instead she grabbed Ada's hand and pulled her into their game. They all climbed up the slide, they all went down together. When Carol, my personal support worker, came too close to Ada, Ada told her to go away.

Yet there are instances of seeming dependence. Ada wants me to put her panties on her, to pull them down when she goes to the bathroom, to feed her, to give things to her. "I cannot reach," she says. "I need help". "I cannot do it."

I tried asking her to try before helping her. I tried doing it together. The result is meltdowns and tears. Now I help. She needs me, and I help.

As I was writing this I started wondering whether asking for my help is a sign of dependence or mastery? By asking my help she is reclaiming her environment and reclaiming me and her security; reclaiming her role of a child. She needs to know that I can do things for her now, that she can rely on me.

She has never been the one to persevere -- after a failure she would ask for my help without attempting the task again. Exactly a year ago, when we went to the cottage with a friend of mine and her little one, we were going through the same thing -- "you can get off that chair by herself, yes you can" -- and I would watch her cry in frustration. Not because she could not do it, but because I would not help her.

I feel that if the help she is asking for is related to her own bodily needs, like eating, dressing, going to the bathroom, I need to help without asking her to try first, without doubting the sincerity of her need, even if the risk of her failing is minimal. Yet if her request is to put a diaper on her teddy bear, I tend to let her try first and I let her to express her frustration. To her, helping her beloved Mishka might be as important as helping her, but I draw the line there. After all, even if try to help her, I never put the diaper on just right. Go figure.

But where is the line between responding to her needs, and being a pushover? What amount of frustration is needed for her to grow and what is detrimental to her feelings of security? Sometimes I think I am doing the right thing; sometimes I wonder. <<<

anyone made THIS far? :LOL
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Quote:
Second, I disagree that different children need different parenting styles. I read that all the time, and it sounds good written out, but I think it's simply wrong, and it's the same argument that people use when they say *their* children need to be spanked, or *their* children need to "cry it out" at night. No children benefit from spanking, no children benefit from being left alone to cry, and the flip side of that is that all children benefit from GD and all children benefit from AP. I think it's unfair of you to suggest that people who feel *all* children would benefit from GD are naive or even dangerous.
I don't think I was clear enough. Since this is the Gentle Discipline board, I'm talking about ideas and techniques within that framework, not harsh "discipline" styles such as CIO and spanking and such. Example: I know a mom who is pretty AP and GD; she nursed for three years, homebirthed, doesn't believe in CIO, spanking, etc., but she DOES use time outs occasionally.

Quote:
My "intuition" is no longer true intuition because of what I learned growing up. A lot of people think they're parenting instinctively, but what they're doing is repeating the same mistakes of previous generations. I think we can get a lot of benefit out of reading about parenting and challenging our initial assumptions.
Excellent point, which I alluded to in my very lengthy OP. When I talk about the ideal of parents "parenting" by intuition, that's what it is... an ideal. I don't know very many people whose intuition ISN'T skewed by familial and societal expectations. It's a shame, isn't it?

annabanana - I need to read your reply, then I'll respond.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Quote:
he says that when we think 'relationship' we do not need specific techniques. we will know naturally what to say. when i first read it, i was 'well, it is nice, but i still want techniques'. mind you i already have read a lot about techniques and was applying many of them consistenly. but still i thought he was wishy-washy on this. and YET it seems to work.
Ooooh, that totally makes sense. That's the dichotomy I feel myself getting stuck on. Part of it is my friend who I mentioned in my previous post. She's a teacher, she's very firm and loving, and she and her son have the most positive relationship! It is so mutually respectful, her child is nearly always happy and in a good mood, yet she is a very strict mom. He rarely "misbehaves", usually listens to her the first time she says something, rarely tantrums, whines or cries, etc. It's bizarre to me because she IS so strict, and to be as strict as she is seems to go against my intuition. Yet my kids are screamy, whiney, don't listen very well, and seem UNhappy a lot, while hers is just a ray of sunshine, ya know?

Quote:
But where is the line between responding to her needs, and being a pushover? What amount of frustration is needed for her to grow and what is detrimental to her feelings of security?
I can totally relate to that struggle. What I am thinking in this moment, though, is this: sometimes they reach out not because they actually NEED us to do whatever it is they are asking/demanding, but because they want to make sure that we're right there for them. They stick out their tentacle, make sure we're still there, receptive and ready and loving, and once they realize that we ARE present with them, they gain MORE security and independence, not LESS.

Whew, sorry, trying to stay "present" with my 3 yo. ds and type is mindboggling :LOL I'll try to clean up my thoughts later when I have more time!
 

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I find it easier to parent and discipline if I go with what feels right. If I am tired or stressed, I fall back on what I was taught. But, it does not feel right.

I absolutely love Hold on to Your Kids. It should be required reading for everyone, parent or not.
More later.
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by candiland
Ooooh, that totally makes sense. That's the dichotomy I feel myself getting stuck on. Part of it is my friend who I mentioned in my previous post. She's a teacher, she's very firm and loving, and she and her son have the most positive relationship! It is so mutually respectful, her child is nearly always happy and in a good mood, yet she is a very strict mom. He rarely "misbehaves", usually listens to her the first time she says something, rarely tantrums, whines or cries, etc. It's bizarre to me because she IS so strict, and to be as strict as she is seems to go against my intuition. Yet my kids are screamy, whiney, don't listen very well, and seem UNhappy a lot, while hers is just a ray of sunshine, ya know?

I have found that these kids are often afraid to misbehave. Here, more often than not, it was beat into them from an early age (9 months or earlier) that the parent is right always and can never be contradicted or challenged in any form. These children are sometimes the ones that rebel horribly as teens. There is a lady locally who has wonderful chlidren from all appearances. There are 9 I think. Most or all are adopted. Well, she gave a talk to the moms groups on how she does it. I stopped listening when she said at 9 months old, they are put on a blanket and are spanked if they get off that blanket. She has to have her down time and this is how she does it. 9 months! Spanked for getting off the blanket! Can you imagine? Now, from all appearances, they look like a very happy, well mannered respectful family. But, the oldest is not a teen yet. I am wondering what will happen then.
 

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In a rush but I want to post. I was not raised to see what healthy relationships entail. I need to think about this and to hear about it from others so that my own family can learn to function healthfully and treat each other with respect. I need to know how the ways I was raised with are broken, as it were, before I can go about fixing them so that they aren't repeated.

If I didn't read parenting books, I would have followed the current behavioristic fashion of child-rearing. Bwahhh. Gag. The arguments against it -- now those spoke to my intuitions. I don't think I could possibly have touched any inherent mothering intuitions that I had (at least not enough of them to cover all of the issues of raising a child). These intuitions were grossly clouded by the treatment my parents gave to me as I was growing up (and it wasn't even all that bad).
 

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I didn't read the thread because I don't have a lot of time, so I might be repeating what people have already said. But I like parenting books for the very reason that I don't have much guidance from my parents. You can always take or leave what you read, but getting ideas from people who have had experience/research are so valuable, I think.

I agree that intuition plays a valuable role. When I encounter something that just does not mesh with my intuition, then I may discard it or at least question it. But I often find that my first impulse is determined not by some natural instinct or even personal conviction, but rather by the way my parents treated me! Intuition can hide deeply embedded prejudices and just crazy thinking. I know moms who go by their "intuition", but in some cases are just another word for doing whatever the heck they want to their kids without any check on whether it might be good for the kids or not. In their case, their dislike for parenting books are based on their feeling of omniscience. So intution can definitely go either way.
 

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A couple quick points:

I don't worry about "giving in" to my daughter. I just refuse to assume she is acting a certain way to "get what she wants". We have some rules/limits and those are held to no matter what her reaction is. If I say she cannot have a full glass of water in an open cup in the living room she can react any way she likes, it's not going to change my answer. This frees me up to be as loving, sympathetic, as I can be. I can offer her hugs, etc. There is no punishment, there is no chastising, there is no "that's not going to help!!", there is no correction of her behaviour.

I think it was Becky Bailey who said just go ahead and assume the best in each situation becuase even if your child's motives weren't completely altruistic your faith in them, your belief that it was, can be a great confidence booster.

And yes, I think every single kid can benefit from GD. I don't think timeouts are ever necessary. That some kids thrive in spite of them is no supportive argument, from my POV. And the variation in chidlren's temperaments and needs doesn't faze me either: there is just so much available within the framework of GD and non-punishment...one simply has to search further. Saying one "had to use time out" is simply saying that one ran out of knowledge. Not there is no answer, just that the person didn't know it.

some awesome posts here...I'll get back to them later when I have more time...great thread, candiland!
 

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I get a lot out of reading discipline books, but then I only glean what I want and I ditch the rest. It's how I've formed my way as a mommy, because none of this has come naturally to me. And that which has come naturally to me (spanking), is something that I still try to get 100% out of my life. So, the books (and boards like this) have really been beneficial to me. I think it's important, though, to not believe everything you read/hear - take everything with a grain of salt. I think that gives me a well-versed and well-rounded idea of how I want to discipline.

-Elizabeth
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by annabanana
i agree that every child is different, and that not all technique will work for everybody, but the general framework of GD is the framework of respect, and yes, it is applicable to every child.

Agreed. Respect and kind treatment are appropriate...are NEEDED by all people. I like reading parenting books because it helps me to sort out my own beliefs. Whether I agree with it, disagree with it, or have never thought about it before, it helps me to define my own parenting.

Quote:

Originally Posted by candiland
When I talk about the ideal of parents "parenting" by intuition, that's what it is... an ideal. I don't know very many people whose intuition ISN'T skewed by familial and societal expectations.
I find that some of my reactions are obviously skewed by my own upbringing, but my intuition is still under there somewhere.
For instance, when my first was small, people around me were very into stars and stickers and charts and rewards. It certainly seemed to me to be better than spanking, but somehow it still didn't feel right. Maybe it was too manipulative, maybe it was because kids were "doing the right thing" just to get the reward--I had the intuition, but not the time or experience to sort it all out and put it into a complete thought. Then, when I read Kohn's book Punished by Rewards I thought, "BINGO!" So, in a way, some parenting books help me to tune into my intuition, because that intuition has been so clouded and overridden.

It's similar to my thoughts on birth--when I went to an OB with my first pregnancy, I left the appointment thinking, "This isn't right." I had major problems with the way I was treated, with the "options" given to me, with the whole plan for my pregnancy/labor/birth. It didn't feel right to me at all, but I wasn't too clear on the alternatives. Reading a bunch of books on the topic opened me up to other possibilities and alternatives and helped me to define what I wanted.

Sometimes with parenting, something I'm doing or thinking doesn't feel right and reading helps me to sort out the way I want to go. It's not so much following a method, but defining my own.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I agree that insights gleaned from gentle parenting books can be useful.

However, I am a bit wary of any book that spouts a specific "method", like a cure-all that all children are expected to fit into. I guess I'm thinking more along the latest hyped-up mainstream publications, and those parents who really do follow that advice to a T to the detriment of their children.

mpeel - I, too, fall back on really crappy parenting styles when I'm tired and stressed out. I'd love to find a way to stay more present... I'm just overwhelmed so much of the time, regardless of how many "breaks" I get, that I tend to get really snappy and that's when I expect "obedience" rather than a healthy, two-way relationship with my kids.

Dal/Eltaz - I guess good GD/parenting books are great to help figure out healthy, respectful alternatives to the ones we were taught as children. And you do have to take some things with a grain of salt. Many books I've picked up have a tone of "this is my theory, I'm right, follow it and you and your kids will have a wonderful life together." So it is a matter of picking and choosing between many different styles and theories that fit you and your child best, I guess.

Okay, I'll be back to post more after preschool! Hope everyone's having a good morning!
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by candiland

However, I am a bit wary of any book that spouts a specific "method", like a cure-all that all children are expected to fit into.

Yes! But I find I'm turned off by any sort of books/articles with a "method." You know those, "Ten steps to ______ (loosing weight/a happier life/the perfect job....) ect etc.

I guess I'm more interested in ideas that spark thought and discussion than I am in specific "How to...." books--no matter the topic.

Do you find this as well?
 

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I agree that we often find a parenting book that speaks to us and then kind of say "bingo" and use its framework more than others.

For example the book "How to get your kids to listen" has some great ideas and techniques. But for me, I was totally put off by some of its theories which I felt did not honor the primacy of the parent child relationship. That is to say, I may not want a friend to react to me winning the Nobel Prize by saying "I am so proud of you" But I'd be darn unhappy if my mother only gave me a "Well, you must be proud of yourself!" :LOL Which is what this book fails, in my mind to understand.

For me, Anthony Wolf's "The Secret of Parenting" spoke to me. It was essentially how I was raised, but it also helped me deal with certain things that did not come intuitively.

Like, for example, responding to lying by pretty much ignoring it:

Me: Oh my goodness, there is glass all over the floor! You dropped the glass. Don't move or you could get hurt!

DD (age 4 at time) I didn't do it!!!! I was just standing here.

Me: [I know what she said is not true, sninc the stool is pulled up to the cabinet where the glasses are and has been left open] "When something breaks you need to not move and call for me right away. The pieces of glass could really hurt you sweetie. Mama is going to clean this one up by herself because I don't want you to get hurt, but next time please use only the plastic glasses."

Before I read the book, my instincs would have been to go into a "you need to tell the truth, routine" This way was so much better.
 
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