I just read Love and Logic and have to say I was wholely unimpressed. I started out with a fundamental difference of opinion with the authors with in the first few pages, and that – at the very root – maybe part of my thoughts on the entire book.
The authors begin their discussion of “the grand responsibility of parenthood’ by stating that kids today, post 9/11 and Katrina, are “growing up faster than we did” (32). First of all, how trite can you be? Every generation since Cain and Able has said that. More importantly however is my founding belief that children and teens are growing up faster today simply because parents do not want to parent and want to be absolved of their responsibility as soon as they can be. It is my view, our view here in this home, that children need to be children (yes even at 10 and 14 and so on) and that it is a basic parent duty to make sure they not only get to be kids, but that they stay kids even as they strain to grow up. Ten year olds today are still ten year old and need to be damming creeks and catching frog, no ogling adult websites. That falls to the parents and what they allow and facilitate; that is no different in 2012 then 1950 or 1912. Thus I began the book with a solid difference of opinion with the authors.
I found the book an easy read, and even a timely reminder about picking my battles and using cooperative language rather than confrontive language (“should you can play outside, right after you pick up the books” rather than “no you are not going outside till every book is put up”). But that is really where my appreciation for the book ends. I think we can all agree that the role as parents is to allow children to learn to make choices and decisions for themselves; but the key, to me, is that they have to be age appropriate choices. I am the parent, I can see around the corner my kids can’t, I have to make some choices for them. The authors pay lip service to keeping the choices the child get to make realistic then give example after example that are anything but realistic.
The examples used in the book were at best laughable and more realistically just plan dim-witted. I’ll share my three favorite examples. One: the two year old making a mess and disrupting dinner (first of all, what do you expect Martha Stewart?) is told “you can eat nice or you can play on the floor”. The idea being the child learns he or she can not disrupt the adult dinner (again, why did this couple have a child if they do not want their adult habits disrupted). The authors state this child, hungry till breakfast; will soon learn to eat nicely at the table. Secondly a six year old who doesn’t like to go to bed is given the “choice” of when to go to sleep and is still up playing in his room when the adults go to bed at mid-night. The child is then awaken at 6 am (still in his clothing from yesterday) and told to get ready for school. I have a six year old, and I know how plain ridicules this example is. Finally an other school age child (say ten) is late getting ready for school, misses the bus and the parent tell him “I am not taking you spend the day in your room just like you are at school and do not bother me” and then the next morning sends the child off to school (assumablely on time) with no excuse note. I am certainly not one to scoff at limits and consequences (see my post Obedience is Not a bad Word). Nevertheless the examples are foolish and ill-advised to the point of being insulting to the reading parent; a parent trying to parent a real child not a fictional ‘parenting manual child’.
Here in the real world we do not have perfect ‘parenting book children” that walk away quietly when told “if you can’t talk nice to me, I won’t listen” and return 20 minutes later cheerful and never sass us again. Here in the real world we are striving to raise real kids; and too many parenting books fail when the rubber meets the road. There are good ideas in the book, but the authors make the same fundamental mistake most parenting authors do, they take their ideas too far. There is very little good about going to extremes no matter what parenting style you are talking about.