Parenting with Love & Logic – Post 1 (by Ashley Stevens)

“Many kids arrive at their challenging and life-threatening teenage years with no clue as to how to make decisions.”

Foster Cline, M.D. and Jim Fay open their book, “Parenting With Love & Logic” pointing to the fact that many self-destructive decisions teenagers and young adults make are because they are the first real decisions they’ve ever made. Growing up, decisions were made for them by two kinds of well-meaning parents that never really taught them how to think for themselves. As they

“Many kids arrive at their challenging and life-threatening teenage years with no clue as to how to make decisions.”

Foster Cline, M.D. and Jim Fay open their book, “Parenting With Love & Logic” pointing to the fact that many self-destructive decisions teenagers and young adults make are because they are the first real decisions they’ve ever made. Growing up, decisions were made for them by two kinds of well-meaning parents that never really taught them how to think for themselves. As they put it, “Our noble intentions are often our own worst enemy when it comes to raising responsible kids.”

“Many kids arrive at their challenging and life-threatening teenage years with no clue as to how to make decisions.”

Foster Cline, M.D. and Jim Fay open their book, “Parenting With Love & Logic” pointing to the fact that many self-destructive decisions teenagers and young adults make are because they are the first real decisions they’ve ever made. Growing up, decisions were made for them by two kinds of well-meaning parents that never really taught them how to think for themselves. As they put it, “Our noble intentions are often our own worst enemy when it comes to raising responsible kids.”

put it, “Our noble intentions are often our own worst enemy when it comes to raising responsible kids.”

First, there are helicopter parents. These are the type of parents that swoop in and protect their kids every moment of every day, usually at the expense of a growing experience he needs or deserves. Helicopter parents often attack people or agencies they see as a threat to their child. I have a few friends that teach or work in school administration who’ve said one of the hardest parts of their jobs is fielding complaints from these types of parents.

While these “loving” parents are led by good motives, their constant interventions leave their children unequipped for the challenges of life. As the second chapter of the book puts it, “A perfect image and spotless school transcript are poor substitutes for character and the attitude that achievement comes through struggle and perseverance.”

Second, Cline and Fay point to drill sergeant parents who feel the more they command and control, the better their children will be. These parents, too, love their children but their kids are ordered around so much that they never have to think for themselves.

Often kids of drill sergeant parents are followers because they’ve never learned how to make decisions for themselves. They tend to make horrendous decisions when finally given the chance to think for themselves

“Love & Logic” proposes a third type of parent, the consultant parent. Children need thoughtful instruction and firm, enforceable limits. This type of parent gives choices within limits based on the safety of the child and how the child’s behavior affects others.

By parenting as a consultant rather than a helicopter or drill sergeant, the authors argue you encourage children to think about their behavior and help them feel in control of their actions by giving choices within those limits. Making good choices, like any other skill, needs to be learned.

As our children become teenagers, consultant parents are able to step back from being the enforcer of limits and let reasonable, real-world consequences do the teaching.

Cline and Fay point out that allowing our kids to fail within limits helps make the most out of them during their elementary school days, when the price tags are still relatively low. “The price a child pays today to learn about friendships, school, learning, commitment, decision making, and responsibility is the cheapest it ever will be. Tomorrow it’s always higher.”

Stay tuned for the next post to see how “Love & Logic” proposes we move our kids from total dependence on us to independence.

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