June 22, 2024
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Practical Parenting: Becoming A Love & Logic Parent

“Come back here, Moshe!”

“I mean it, Moshe!”

“You better listen to me, Moshe, or else!”

“I’m not kidding, Moshe!”

“That’s it, Moshe!”

“That’s it! Moshe you’re grounded for two months!”

Does it sometimes seem as though our children sneak out their bedroom windows at 3 a.m. under the cover of darkness, and con­gregate at an undisclosed location, where they take a course entitled ‘how to best push your parent’s buttons’?

Our children are our most precious com­modities in life. Yet sometimes we wonder what we got ourselves into when we became parents. No program in the world can make parenting easy. The task of being mechanech our children, our greatest responsibility, is un­questionably an arduous challenge. But the Love and Logic program helps make parent­ing more enjoyable, by equipping parents with easy, practical, implementable tools.

What is Love and Logic?

Effective parenting is built upon love: love that is not permissive, love that doesn’t toler­ate disrespect, but also love that is powerful enough to allow kids to make mistakes and permit them to live with the consequences of their mistakes. Most mistakes have logical con­sequences. And when those consequences are accompanied with empathy—compassionate understanding of the child’s disappointment, frustration, and pain—it hits home with great effectiveness.

What is the goal of Love and Logic?

There are three different approaches to par­enting: There is Drill Sergeant Parenting or the ‘my way or the highway’ method. This is the par­ent who tells a child what to do, when to do it, and exactly how to do it. The “Helicopter Par­ent” hovers above the child and protects the child to an extreme degree. S/he will always try to shift the blame and responsibility away from the child.

The third parent is the Consultant who listens to a child with attention and empa­thy, and then tries to direct and give over ide­as in a non-confrontational, suggestive man­ner about how the child can solve her own problems. When a parent is a Consultant, s/he serves as a guide and mentor for the child, but leaves the responsibility of the problem with the child. S/he will not tell the child what to do nor will s/he solve the child’s problems for her. The Consultant parent may say something like, “What are you going to do about it?”

If the child says, “I don’t know,” the par­ent can then suggest a few ideas that other kids have tried. (We always suggest the worst idea first because the child will generally re­ject the first choice.) After suggesting various option, the parent will then say, “let me know what you decide to do and how it works out for you.” Love and Logic teaches parents how to be Consultants.

Why is this approach so important?

The oft-quoted pasuk from Mishlei states: “Chanoch linar al pi darko—educate a child according to his way.” But people often for­get the latter half of the pasuk, “gam ki yazkin lo yasur mimenu, even when he becomes old he will not deviate from it.” Shlomo Hamalech is teaching us that chinuch is not just about compliance, but more about instilling values into our children’s neshamos, so that it be­comes part of them for life. The Drill Sergeant parent may get compliance in the short run; but it’s not because the child agrees, but be­cause the child is afraid. Yes, that type of par­enting may have worked for our parents, but it’s no longer effective with our children.

The same thing applies to a “Helicopter Par­ent” who is trying to protect a child from the vi­cissitudes of life. Life problems are inevitable and when they arrive, the child of the helicop­ter parent will not be equipped to deal with them. Both the Drill Sergeant and Helicopter Parents are giving their children an underlying message that “you are unable to deal with your own problems, so we have to step in and dic­tate your life.”

Consultant parents, on the other hand, leave the responsibility of their children’s prob­lems with their children. They are instilling con­fidence in their children and giving them the underlying message, “You have the ability to deal with your own problem. You can do it and we are here to help you.”

By instilling responsibility in a child, we are giving him the message that “not only are you responsible, but you can do it.” The child will then develop problem solving skills. When is­sues crop up, he will focus inward, instead of pointing fingers at others. He will say, “What can I do to improve the situation?”

Can you give some examples of the Love and Logic approach?

Love and Logic teaches that we need to give control away in order to get control back. So Love and Logic parents are always giving their children lots of choices about things that matter to the child, but don’t matter at all to the parent.

Experienced parents know how ineffective they are when they use the classic four tools— anger, threats, lectures, and warnings. Instead, they use enforceable statements that don’t tell the child what s/he must do, they tell the child what they themselves are going to do. “I listen to children who are respectful!” “We give com­puter time to children who have their home­work done!” “I buy Slurpees on Friday for chil­dren whose rooms are clean!”

Every negative choice that a child makes is viewed as an opportunity for children to learn about the real world, in which our actions have consequences. It’s always easier to learn that lesson when the price tag is relatively small, than to learn it in adulthood, when the conse­quences are far more serious.

Rabbi Staum is a Love and Logic facilitator. His upcoming five session parenting classes will be beginning imminently. To register, or for more information, contact him at stamtorah@ gmail.com.

By Rabbi Dani Staum, LMSW

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