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The Big Answer


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Parent Power: Preserving Your Identity Through Realistic Parenting

a book by Bud Zukow

(our site's book review)

Zukow says that you cannot parent effectively unless you are interested in your own growth as a person. If it’s win-lose, where you plan to forget you have a life and think only of the children, you’ll blow it. He defines enslavement as what happens when kids gain control of their parents via manipulative behavior. He defines the Great Myth of Parental Fulfillment as a conspiracy that maximizes the joys and minimizes the hardships of being a parent—particularly a mother, and he calls this conspiracy the foundation of parental enslavement. He says that people go into parenting “. . . fortified with nothing more than the fluff of illusions.”

He warns parents not to use bribery, which is manipulation by money/candy/favors. The Tofflers call this lower quality power—it’s sometimes used when what’s needed is high quality power: knowledge. In the case of bribery, a better way to get a kid to learn acceptable behavior than bribing him to do it is using the knowledge of how to parent effectively in a more authoritative manner, using consequences. Bribery is “. . . the best possible way to fail at discipline.” He favors reducing the amount of things parents expect kids to do to a reasonable minimum so interactions aren’t mostly about the kid’s failures to do things. He also favors logical and natural consequences, and for disciplining adolescents—negotiation to prevent head-on clashes. His attitude towards messy rooms is good: He says let them experience the consequences of their mess and it will teach them what they need to know. Besides, it’s their space, and they need to know that!

He makes some good points not seen too often elsewhere, but Louise Hart and Thomas Gordon have outlined more comprehensive parenting methods that deal with most issues more effectively.