Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Book Review: Parenting With Love and Logic

I read this book after hearing about it and the application of the Love and Logic principles on the Foster Parenting Podcast I listen too. Despite Scott working for a book store I paid full price and bought this one from B&N (Which apparently must bother me since I mention it every time I buy a full-price book).

Parenting with Love and Logic by Foster Kline and Jim Fay offers the principle of teaching children responsibility by allowing them to practice making choices and living with the consequences. Kline and Fay argue that responsibility is not a talent, but a learned, practiced skill. They suggest that by making choices and then living with the natural consequences of those choices children learn how to think through choices. I am all for natural consequences so that makes sense to me. Kline and Fay say that parents should not fight battles they cannot win. You can’t make a child stop throwing a tantrum but you can make them do it in another room away from you.  You might not be able to force a kid to eat this meal, but by empowering them to choose to not eat this meal they will surely by ready to eat by the time the next meal rolls around.

The book is laid out in two parts – the explanation of the philosophy and the practical application of that philosophy. Kline and Fay offer practical responses to 48 common parenting issues like grades, chores, bad language, getting ready for school, going to church and taking care of belongings. Kline and Fay argue that allowance is a tool to teach children the value of money and should not dependent on a child doing their chores. Chores are not optional; chores are a given. Everyone is expected to pitch in to the maintenance of the family’s home.

At times they get a bit judge-y about topics such as pacifiers, television time and video games. Their bias comes out on these topics and they fail to offer concrete advice on how to teach logic or allow personal choice with resulting consequences.

The pacifier chapter seems to the one most directed towards toddlers while many of the others are more appropriate to school age children or teenager. Kline and Fay argue that pacifiers are not natural and should not be allowed beyond infancy as it can become an addiction. Maybe they didn’t put a lot of time or thought into the pacifier chapter (it was only one page), but again it seems to miss the point. They don’t formulate the argument against pacifiers well except to stress that a child sucking a pacifier is not “cute.” They suggest that parents have a hard time encouraging their children to out-right quit sucking a pacifier, but the parent can control where the sucking occurs. So the parent should ask the toddler to leave the room if he/she must suck on the pacifier. I’m not a huge pacifier promoter but I do appreciate the welcome calm it can bring to my friends kids. Maybe they should have left this chapter out since it is somewhat of a controversial topic and they didn’t have a solid foundation for their objections.

Video Games. Maybe this is sensitive topic in our house because we are both gamers, as two creators of media we are also consumers of media, and, oh, half our income comes from the sale of video games.  Kline and Fay suggest discussing video games with the children to prompt thought on amount of time and content of the video games. That sounds reasonable. They spend several pages discussing video game addiction. Okay maybe this book is not the time or place, but possibly relevant (maybe). They then end the chapter stating “Certainly though, many parents handle the issue the simple way: from the time the children are young they simply do not have video games in the home. We applaud those folks!” This concluding thought misses the point of allowing children to choose and then allowing children to practice appropriate boundaries and self control.

I generally agree with the philosophy that responsibility can be taught by allowing children to practice making good choices then allowing them to suffer the consequences when they are young; however I finished this book with a rather sour taste in my mouth. I feel like the book was not specific enough to any particular age group, but in some aspects it was too limited to the writers’ biases. I’d love for someone else to read it so I can discuss with them, but I don’t enthusiastically want to recommend that anyone spend a lot of time on it.

Instead go back and read Equally Shared Parenting by Marc and Amy Vachon. It was fantastic! I got it for cheap and would be happy to loan it out.


1 comment:

  1. What an excellent review. :) Now I don't need to read the book. The way you describe the general philosophy of the book in the first couple of paragraphs sounds very much how I want to parent. I suppose anyone who writes a parenting book must be a parent, but it's hard to accept that the authors ever had babies if they are so adamently opposed to pacifiers. :) I used to be before I had a baby/toddler. Though I am starting to wonder about weaning her/me of it. (I say "me" because it's really MY reflex that hands her a paci when she's crying - maybe soon it will develop more into HER habit than mine.) Anyway, thanks for the review!