A few years ago, I wrote an article about the merits of the Love and Logic™ parenting model. It seemed like such a tidy method: give kids a few rules to live by, be consistent in upholding those rules, and then be empathetic without saving their bacon when they suffer the consequences of not following the rules.
For instance, instead of screeching for your eleven year-old to wear a coat to school, let him know it’s currently only five degrees warmer than the temperature at which he was crying like a baby on the ski slope just last winter. Tell him where the coat can be found, what time you’re leaving, and let him make his own choices. Then shove him in the car when it’s time for school even though he’s still in pajamas.
Let the teacher know at his fall conference the following evening that your fifth grader is learning to take responsibility for his own actions, and so his showing up in pajamas occasionally is a real possibility, and no, you’re not a bad mom… Not for that anyway.
If she really wants, she can pick any of about a half dozen reasons you might be a bad mom, like the fact you neglected to pay into your child’s school lunch fund until the principal called to tell you the underpaid lunch lady coughed up a couple bucks the other day so he could have some milk. But that’s a different issue altogether.
This is how an actual Love and Logic™ conversation might go:
“Mom, did you remember my gym clothes?”
“No, but I told you where you could find them before we got in the car.”
“Well, I didn’t bring them and now I can’t go to the Y after school. Thanks.”
“Well buddy, I’m sorry you weren’t paying attention when I reminded you pull together everything you needed before you got in the car.”
“Well, I’m sorry you’re so bad at apologizing.”
See that? Until that last statement, everything was going well. My blood pressure was normal and there was no screaming. Then throw in a fourteen year-old’s snarky comment and Parenting Through Love and Logic™ becomes Parenting while Trying to Avoid Getting Everyone Killed on the Freeway Because You’re About to Lose Your Temper and Go All Ninja on Your Teenager™.
To be honest, the Parenting Through Screaming and Yelling™ model never worked very well for us, although we gave it a good, college try. The Parenting Through Frequent Bribes and Vague Threats™ is occasionally effective although it actually contributes to the feeling that we’re raising the extortiony children I described in another post.
Parenting With Lies About the Mistakes A Mythical Older Brother Made Just Before He Perished™ was all the rage until the kids caught on that there was no real “big brother Timmy,” who suffered ghastly injuries because of his predilection for refusing mommy’s hand in the supermarket parking lot, or for sticking his finger in electrical sockets.
Now, they think it’s some sort of private joke we’re all in on. “Mom, don’t climb on that shelf to get stuff off the top. That’s what Timmy was doing just before, you know,” one of them will say while the other grimaces and pulls his pointy finger across his throat with a “shhhkkk,” sound. Which is a conversation that can generate some seriously weird looks in the grocery store, I’m telling you.
These days, we’re trying other methods. Most recently, we’re practicing the art of Parenting Through Threats and Coercion™ method. I’m going to say it’s working, largely because our children are still in possession of all of their digits.