5 March 2008

Random (long) essay on Raising Our Children, Raising Ourselves, by Naomi Aldort and some other discipline books

I thought the SALVE formula (Aldort) was helpful, but strongly disagree with her assumption that children shouldn't be actually asked to do anything they don't immediately want to. It seems that saying children have equal rights with adults is equivalent to saying adults have no rights at all - and should generally just facilitate the children doing whatever they want whenever they want it, including picking up after them, and that's the end of the story.

If you're confident enough as a parent to see that it doesn't have to be that way in order to be sufficiently gentle and completely unconditional... You can in fact, with total respect for your child wanting to not do so, ask them to pick up after themselves... Then no harm. But I would hate to see people pick up this book and feel that they were harming the developing psyche of their child by insisting that co-operation is a two way street!

That's why I like the Kohn book actually, that he says you and you alone know what matters to you. The lack of guidance for specific scenarios makes sense in those terms, so really the only further guidance in the Aldort book is to ask us to mentally run through the angry words before talking to the child. I do like how she writes though, her way with words. :)

I think that reading Kohn (Unconditional Parenting), then moving on this, then on to How To Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk is a good reading order. And then Playful Parenting by Laurence Cohen.

I think How To Talk is useful to read after these two because then the grounding is already coming from the prompts-to-parent-for-helpful-communication rather than (as Kohn says) trying to force them do what we already decided they should even if we later think perhaps we were unreasonable.

If you came to How To Talk from a punitive background then it becomes just techniques to add on to or replace punishment. But I don't see that it was written like that - in fact the dangers of using the words as a formula and being inauthentic are described if anything more strongly than in the Naomi Aldort book.I found the little cartoons irritating and unrealistic, but for a parent who thinks that there is legitimately a place for parental authority in keeping children safe and maintaining the balance of the family relationships, finding better words to use and more respectful ways to ask for co-operation becomes quite important!

Books whose "technique" is just to insist that parents shouldn't tell their child anything or ask them to do anything (and yet claim not to be permissive because they don't NEGLECT their children) aren't necessarily bad. I've found good in them. But I wouldn't buy the approach wholesale except as a basis FOR another form of discipline. Love alone *without* an expectation of social behaviour (which need NOT be putting conditions on that love) is gentle, but not balanced gentle discipline in my book.

Loving a child and giving them everything they want may make them happy but not necessarily make the family happy - ie the parent who sees a toy snatched and says, to the unhappy toyless child, "oh you're sad now, you really wanted to play with that" but feels that they can't take the toy back off the agressor without disrespecting their right to self-determine. Eventually the child wants to be helpful and fit in with the way everyone else does things, but in the meantime everyone else has to suffer because parental authority is denied in favour of making unequal abilities take equal decision-making.

Back to regular diary entries, methinks. Still pondering my reading and what my conclusions from it might mean in terms of changes... :)

No comments:

Post a Comment

Penny for your thoughts? :)