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Fairy Tale Mama over at the Enchanted School House has me hooked on Suzanne Collins’s dystopian Hunger Games trilogy. Concurrently, I’ve also been reading and rereading Foster Cline and Jim Fay’s Parenting Teens with Love and Logic. This makes for a very odd mash-up!
Without giving away any spoilers, the Hunger Games centers around the fatherless Katniss Evergreen and her quest to keep those she loves alive. A secondary character in the series is Haymitch, who is supposed to be her mentor, but who spends most of his time drunk. But through the course of the three books it becomes clearer and clearer that Haymitch does care for Katniss, he’s willing to make personal sacrifices to help her, and that he is the closest thing Katniss has to a fatherly figure.
In chapter 8 of the third book, MockingJay, there is a scene that could be the crazy, sci-fi version of Love and Logic in action. Katniss has disobeyed orders and taken her earpiece out while in combat, meaning that she couldn’t listen to Hatmitch’s commands from the hovercraft. When she gets back home, injured and hospitalized, she knows that Haymitch is really angry about this, but he doesn’t show it. Instead, he waits until the next day, once the situation has calmed down, to talk to Katniss about her actions.
Katniss wakes up in her hospital bed knowing that Haymitch has been by her side for several hours (That’s the LOVE.) In a very neutral tone Haymitch dangles the white earpiece in front of Katniss and says that the next time she goes into battle she can choose to wear it…or she can wear a metal head-clamp earpiece that locks around her neck, or she can have a communication chip surgically implanted into her ear. Those are her choices, and the natural consequences of choosing to take the white earpiece out while in the field. (That’s the LOGIC.)
From a Love and Logic perspective, Haymitch is doing several things:
- He doesn’t mete out consequences in the heat of the moment.
- There isn’t any punishment, only natural consequences.
- The natural consequences are doing the teaching.
- He expresses love through eye contact and physical presence.
- He shows what the expectations and limits are, through the offering of choices.
- He avoids power struggles and arguing.
Of course, I’m not a Love and Logic expert by any means, I’m just a reader and parent. But it is interesting to me that after reading Cline and Foster’s books (especially the teen book), I keep viewing other parenting situations I encounter in literature on or TV from a Love and Logic perspective. It’s also a lot easier to evaluate an outside situation, as opposed to analyzing my own parenting style inside my own home (although I’m trying to do that too).
May the odds be ever in my favor…. 🙂
For my February contribution to Jean’s Greek Classics Challenge over at Howling Frog Books I have re-read Sophocles’ Antigone. I read Antigone for the first time in the fifth grade when my teacher, Mr. Gray, had the whole class (parents included) participate in a socratic seminar about the play for open house. Pretty awesome, hunh?
Of course, since my mind is still swirling after reading Parenting Teens with Love and Logic, I kept thinking about Antigone in those terms. In all likelihood, both Antigone and her fiancé Haemon were teenagers who thought they knew everything. Creon, was probably a drill-sergeant type parent who wanted his word to be law. Throw in a family history of incest, rebellion, blindness and tragedy and kaboom— you’ve got a really bad situation on your hands that is going to have life and death consequences.
Try reading these excerpts from Antigone while thinking about her being a teenager:
Antigone: They see, and do not say. You have them cowed.
Creon: And you are not ashamed to think alone?
Antigone: No, I am not ashamed. When was it shame to serve the children of my mother’s womb?
Really, this could be a scene from a teen soap-opera on the CW! Now think about this scene between Haemon and his father:
Creon: At my age I’m to school my mind by his? This boy instructor is my master, then?
Haemon: I urge no wrong. I’m young, but you should watch my actions, not my years, to judge of me.
Creon: A loyal action, to respect disorder?
Hameon: I wouldn’t urge respect for wickedness.
Creon: You don’t think she is sick with that disease?
Haemon: Your fellow-citizens maintain she’s not.
Creon: Is the town to tell me how I ought to rule?
Haemon: Now there you speak just like a boy yourself.
Creon: Am I to rule by other mind than mine?
Reading Antigone as a parent, I was struck with how much I did not want her to disobey Creon and bury her brother Polyneices. As a mother, I wanted Antigone to stay alive. As an adult, I completely sided with her sister’s Ismene’s argument. But when I read Antigone as a fifth grader, I identified with Antigone. I thought she was really brave and noble to face death in order to do (in her mind) the right thing.
To me, this play is a clear lesson about how issuing ultimatums does not work, and power struggles should be avoided at all costs. If Creon had chosen his parenting approach differently, then his future daughter in law, his son, and his wife might all still be alive.
Admittedly, I have a very one track mind these days. But ever since I read Parenting Teens with Love and Logic by Foster Cline and Jim Fay it feels like my cranium has been opened and light poured in.
Before I read about Love and Logic, if you had asked me what a well-disciplined child was I would have answered: A child who follows directions and doesn’t embarrass you in public. By that definition, Jenna(2.5) is very well behaved, and her brother Bruce(6.5)…err..um…not so much! Now after reading Love and Logic I would a define a well-discipline child as: A child who is being trained to make good choices, to think for him/herself, and who takes 100% ownership for the results of his/her decisions.
My goal as a parent is not to raise a child who will do what I say, but to train a child who makes good decisions and chooses to do the right thing of his own accord. No matter what hegemony is present in my daughter’s life, I want her to have an inner voice that is so strong and wise that it will carry her through all situations.
To ground this philosophy in reality, this morning was pretty crazy. Bruce came up to me worried about going to school because it had started to snow. I checked all of the weather alert updates, and none of the schools in our area were closed, so I spent the next ten minutes calming his anxiety about getting stuck somewhere on the bus. Finally, we agreed that I would drive him to school this morning.
While we were driving to school I saw two teenagers walking up to the high school and coming to a crosswalk. The boy, who was about six feet and looked like he could play football, crossed the street on the red light. The girl who was with him, waited at the corner for the signal to change. She looked across the four lanes of traffic and held up her hands at her friend to say, “What gives?”
Whoa! I just saw an amazing moment in time. That teenage girl made a split-second decision to stay put on the corner. She didn’t follow the good looking guy next to her into what could have been a dangerous situation. She followed her own inner voice and stayed put. The teenage boy on the other hand, probably thought he was invincible and the ordinary rules of society or consequences physics would not apply to him.
This really made me think. What type of teenager was I? For sure, I was the girl who stayed on the corner, and the boys I hung out with in high school would probably have had their arm out in front of me making sure I waited for the light to change. All of the teenagers I chose to be friends with were really responsible.
But what types of teenagers will my kids become? Who will their friends be? At that point in my thought process I started to freak out a bit. I had just witnessed one moment of good/bad decision making. How many of those moments will my own kids someday face? Hundreds? Thousands? Deep breath Jenny!
After I dropped Bruce off at school the thermometer started dropping lower and lower, and the sky began turning whiter and whiter. Maybe Bruce was right to be concerned about the weather, and I just committed a parenting error by teaching him to ignore that voice inside of him that said he should stay home. Then again, maybe I was teaching him to check in with experts and make informed decisions. Or maybe, as is so often the case, I have no idea what the heck I am doing and am just making this up as I go along! 🙂
P.S. I read an interesting post at Tinderbox Homeschool recently about how the Unitarian Church teaches children to listen to their “inner voice” starting from a young age. They might be on to something!
It took nine hours of travel, and two planes to make what should have been a four hour flight home from San Diego yesterday. Ugh! While I was at the airports, I put my time to good use by reading Parenting with Love and Logic by Foster Cline and Jim Fay. I was able to put their advice into practice right away, and boy was it effective!
On my original flights to San Diego, United made everyone in boarding classes 3 and 4 check their bags at the very last minute because there was supposedly not enough overhead space left. I dutifully compiled, only to see when I was walking down the aisle to my seat that there was tons of space left. Double Ugh!
So when I was persevering through a longer than expected layover on the way home, and the service desk lady made this announcement about forcing us to check our bags again, this time I decided to put some Love and Logic tactics into action and see if they would work in this situation. I knew I needed to: 1) show empathy that was perceived as sincere, 2) stay calm and not get angry, 3) let natural consequences do the teaching for me, 4) don’t get in a power struggle and 5) fall back on catch phrases if I ran into trouble. I went up the desk, looked the United lady in the eye, and dove in. Here’s how our very calm conversation went:
Me: It must be so hard to do your job and have to make announcements like this.
United Lady: Um… Are you in boarding class 3 or 4? I need to check your bags.
Me: Yes, I am in 3. But you see, the thing is, I was wondering if you would consider letting me keep my bags. I was just packing up my grandma’s house and I have things in here that I don’t want to risk losing.
Untied Lady: I’m sorry but everyone in boarding class 3 and 4 needs to check their bags. We have a full flight and there won’t be any room in the overhead space.
Me: Bummer. But you see, the last flight I was on a few days ago they made the same announcement and I checked my bag only to discover that there ended up being lots of overhead space on board. So now I would really prefer it if I could keep my bag with me. Would you think about letting me keep it?
United Lady: Oh okay, but you might have to surrender your bag later when you are on the flight and there isn’t enough room.
Me: Thank you for your consideration.
As it turns out, there was a ton for room for my bag when I finally made it onboard. You better believe I spent the rest of my flight finishing that book. I’m turning into a Love and Logic monster!
I’m heading off to my Grandma’s house this weekend and so my husband is holding down the fort. I’m really looking forward to a plane ride without children. Bring on a layover; I don’t care!
One of the things I am excited to do while wedged back in Coach, is to finish reading Parenting Teens with Love and Logic by Foster Cline and Jim Fay. Yes, I know I do not have teenagers, but this was the first Love and Logic book our library had available to check out. I’m way down on the hold list for the rest of them.
This book on teenagers however, is so amazing that I have actually gone and purchased it to keep off of Amazon. I want to read it again and again, and next time use a highlighter. I also want my husband to read it, after I’ve written all of my little notes in the margins. I guess I better order the book for younger children too…
One of the major subjects of Parenting Teens with Love and Logicis how to not argue with your teenagers, and the ways you can change your communication styles to avoid power struggles and no-win situations. The book suggests that parents talk in a way that emphasizes what the parent will do, not what the teen should do. Example: “I will serve you dinner after you have showered,” instead of “Take a shower right now!”
The authors also make a clear case for what they call an “inverted triangle.” When kids are little they should be have very few choices. As kids grow up, the authors say that we should give kids more and more control over their own life, because the purpose of parenting is to raise adults who can think for themselves, not adults who do things because they are afraid of what their parents might say. I wasn’t an authoritative-style parent to begin with, but the triangle idea still made me think.
Every time I read another chapter in this book my mind starts opening up a little bit more, and I see new ways I can improve how I interact with my kids. Previously I was a Positive Discipline devote, both at home and in the classroom. Love and Logic seems similar, but better. I’ve tried a lot of the communication changes and they really work. Wow!
P.S. For those of you have read any of the Love and Logic books, I hope you enjoyed my little joke in the title of this post. 🙂