Saturday, March 29, 2008
Are you still with me? Today we're chatting about kids.
Miriam is two and a half, but we're just barely getting into that most ominous and controversial of parenting arenas, DISCIPLINE. Until now, we've really given her a very loose rein in that area. This has been possible because we're lucky to have a child who is basically good, and who generally does not actively seek out ways to be naughty. I know that not everyone is so lucky (but believe me, Miriam challenges us in other ways - they're just thankfully not so visible in public).
I think our basic parenting "philosophy," so far as it is one, has evolved but not changed much since Miriam's infancy. I wore her in a sling all day for the first few months of her life, she slept in our bed for the majority of her first year, and I nursed her until she was 2 years old. After our first summer in Jordan in 2006, I noticed that my parenting style really came to resemble the style we'd seen there, which is quite different from the way we do things in America.
But at about the 2.5-year mark, I could tell that the only way to continue to give Miriam the freedom we wanted her to have was to use discipline consistently. Coincidentally, at around the same time, my friend Janae offered to lend me her book Love & Logic.
I didn't get very far into the book before I became a little skeptical. The authors claimed that Love & Logic parents actually look forward to their child misbehaving so they can put the principles they've learned into use. Have you ever heard anything so ridiculous?
But you know what? They're right! It has been so wonderful to see Miriam respond to the method of discipline this book taught us. She is happier, more confident, and more obedient, and I feel so much more in control as a parent.
I know that this method won't work for everyone. In fact, some of you are probably familiar with it and are about to tell me how much you hated it. That's fine - go ahead. But for our parenting style and for Miriam's temperament, Love & Logic has been a great fit.
I don't want to slaughter the book's message by trying to relate it all here, but I will share two of my favorite principles.
1. Love & Logic generally teaches that you shouldn't give more than one total warning. Please tell me I'm not the only one who agrees with this. Miriam is smart enough to not need a warning every night at dinner not to slide her plate onto the floor. In real life, with bigger problems, when she's older, she won't be getting clearly stated warnings all the time. It's better that she learns that now instead of later.
2. Love & Logic emphasizes empathy. I have always tried to teach Miriam to be aware of and in tune with other people's feelings, and this method builds on that principle and uses it to discipline.
Is anyone else familiar with this method? How did you like it? What other books have you found useful?