I've moved! Visit my new site.

Momsoap is movin' on up, to a real dot com! Visit my new site at: http://www.momsoap.com Please visit my new site and re-subscribe if you like my writing. I hope to see you all there!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Unconditional Parenting is one of my new favorite parenting books

One of my new favorite parenting books is Unconditional Parenting, by Alfie Kohn.

After I read this book, I smacked myself in the forehead and went, "Duh!" This is what I've been looking for!!!

You know how most parents want to do things differently than their parents? I knew that I wanted to do some things differently, but until I read Unconditional Parenting, I couldn't quite put my finger on what exactly it was.

Now I know.

Unconditional Parenting is based on some scientific research and gives a lot of advice, talks a lot about things like extrinsic vs. intrinsic motivation, Skinnerian theory, rewards and punishments, reinforcement, self-esteem. Oh, and parenting stuff.

But I'm not going to bore you to tears with all that gobbledygook because truthfully, if you're like me and you like reading that kind of gobbledygook, you'll read the book and it explains itself way, way better than I will.

Matter of fact, I need to read it again. And again. And then, again.

Kohn says that in all likelihood, sure, most parents do love their children unconditionally. Nobody is really debating that.

But the most important message I got out of this book is that what matters more than how you feel as a parent, is how your child receives your actions.

Let me say it another way.

What matters absolutely most in parenting is that the child gets the message that you (the parent) love that child unconditionally.

Or as Kohn says it, "It... matters how we love them."

He goes on to say, "The value judgment is, very simply, that children shouldn't have to earn our approval. We ought to love them... 'for no good reason.' Furthermore, what counts is not just that we believe we love them unconditionally, but that they feel loved in that way."

Now, you're probably going, what did your parents do that made you feel not loved unconditionally? Well, in theory, I know logically that my parents love me unconditionally, although, there was that time in my early 20s when my dad got really pissed at me for a few days and disowned me. But he came around quickly. (To be fair, he had a pretty good reason.)

My parents followed standard parenting advice for the time period. Spankings were pretty typical in our household, although, I got way less of them than my older siblings did. My younger brother probably got less. I think I even remember him saying he doesn't remember ever getting spanked. However, he is super mellow. He was an easygoing kid and rarely acted up like I did.

It wasn't that I was going around thinking that if I didn't win first place in track or always make straight A's that my parents would stop loving me.

But did I feel it? I don't know. I guess not. The only metaphor I can come up with is how my ex-husband used to poke fun of me all the time and then go, "I'm just kidding! You know I think you're great."

Kohn even says that you should never have to tell your children that you love them. I don't plan on not saying "I love you," to Annika. But I want to know that she will feel love from me all the time.

There are a ton of valuable points in this book, but one of the other messages that struck me most was the information on extrinsic vs. intrinsic motivators.

Kohn says that conditional parenting teaches children that external factors are more important than internal factors. He also notes that when people are motivated more often by outside forces, they have less joy in life, and they rarely do things they enjoy without an incentive.

That is so me. And I hate it.

Conditional parenting focuses exclusively on behavior and the idea is just to change what children do.

Unconditional parenting asks parents to consider why children do what they do so that you can take their feelings into account. He says that it is not always obvious from behavior what a child is feeling or why they are doing what they are doing.

In Unconditional Parenting, Kohn says that withholding love (also known as time-outs) is tantamount to abuse, children today are controlled too much, punishments don't work, and pushing children to succeed will only take away your child's natural love of learning.

Luckily, Kohn also offers plenty of feedback, including 13 principles to help parents become more unconditional.

If you want to know what they are, you are going to have to read the book. Read it! Go on now. And no, I'm not giving you an incentive. But I think you will like it. That should be incentive enough. But if it isn't, here's an extrinsic motivator, it will make you a better parent. Ok, I gave you an incentive. What can I say, it was the way I was raised.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Hey! Momsoap has moved. Please comment on http://www.momsoap.com. It'll help me transition and your comments will be forever linked to the post. Thanks for being a loyal reader. Psst, you're my favorite. Don't tell the others. ;)