I’ve been slow to post about my latest two reads. Mostly because they are non-fiction (again) and have to do with my children. They are potentially even self-help books. Who, me? Perish the thought.
The first book was Unconditional Parenting, by Alfie Kohn. I was in desperate need for some parenting advice. My eldest child was defying us at every turn and no disciplinary technique seemed to be working. (I know. Not MY child.) To make a long story short, I picked up this book.
Kohn’s book is the anti-behaviorist parenting book. He asks a fundamental question of what can we do to work with our children rather than doing to our children. He suggests moving away from rewards and punishments and moving to love and reason.
At first, I thought he belonged to the same school of thought as “Love and Logic”, but after talking to some other parents and doing a little research of my own, I realized he really did not belong in this camp. He is not a “there will be consequences for your actions” type of guy. In fact, he could come across as a real softie with his parenting approach.
However, a lot of things work in his favor. He backs up his argument with scientific studies which separates him from one those “Hey, it worked for me, so maybe it will work for you” authors that litter the how-to-parent literature landscape these days. He also strongly defies the conventional wisdom of parental discipline today, which is depressingly heavy on correcting and controlling children. He is not overly prescriptive with his solutions – he does not offer scripts or scenarios that I can never remember or apply at just the right moment, but instead gives overarching principles. Many of those principles resonated with me.
While I find it extremely difficult to pull off all of his suggestions all of the time, putting his practice in place for just a few weeks resulted in an immediate change of responses from our child. It is still too easy to fall back on a more dictating style of parenting, but I’m striving to be more respectful of my children and minimizing command and control, so it’s a start. Recommended. And he’s coming to a theatre near you:
|September 27, 2007||Kennesaw, GA
SPONSOR: Kennesaw State University
EVENT: evening “Distinguished Educator” lecture
FOR MORE INFO: (770) 423-6347
The other self-help book was Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder, by Richard Louv. I picked up this book at Wordsmiths Books in Decatur on my way to the North Carolina mountains with my family. I thought it would be appropriate given the gorgeous natural landscape we’d be surrounded by for the next 8 days. I also wouldn’t have to feel guilty that my children would be experiencing any kind of nature-deficit for the next several days. Whew!
I have to say I’m inherently disposed to the argument Louv is making, which is: Being outside and in nature is an imperative for children. I was a child who spent a lot of time outside and my husband had a similar experience. Big backyards, lots of other neighborhood children outside, lots of opportunities to explore. Both of us have great memories of playing outdoors and my husband, at least, is very well-adjusted.
I would like to try to provide the same experience and environment for my children, but it hasn’t been easy. We don’t exactly live in paradise. Another challenge has been that one of my child’s “best friends” gets creeped out by the feel of grass under his bare feet. It has been nice to have this book provide support to the thinking that getting your child outside, in nature, is important of and by itself.
Taking a trick from Nitro Nicole, the pros/cons of the book are as follows:
- strong arguments for advantages to children spending time in nature
- easy examples of how to get your child in nature and involved in nature
- tries to overcome fear factor that has increasingly pervaded our culture and has had dampened enthusiasm for outside experiences
- made me scope out perfect tree for backyard fort
- -is he preaching to the choir?
- could be taken as another manifesto to make parents feel guilty about their child-rearing