The Mother of all Parenting Books
a book by Ann Douglas
(our site's book review)
Douglas tells us that: “Most parenting experts agree that an authoritative parenting style works best for parents and kids.” She goes on to say it’s the only decent choice, even though it is a bit more work.
She also tells us that the parenting goal is to equip children with these things: “a fully functioning moral compass, a life raft to help her swim against the growing tide of commercialism, and a virtually foolproof self-esteem toolkit.” She then explains HOW to achieve these goals.
Parents are models to their kids. When offspring feel a strong emotional bond with their parents, they are less likely to go astray, morally.
When offspring feel a strong emotional bond with their parents, they are less likely to go astray, morally
On the subject of discipline, she advises us to use CHOICES as one of the main strategies. Kids love to choose. They also need to choose. It is also extremely healthy for them to choose—it helps their very beings. (Check out Maslow’s Toward a Psychology of Being if you do not understand this statement.) It helps build autonomy in every child it’s employed on, so it’s one of the most win-win parenting tools there ever was. Make sure the number of choices is few and you're willing to accept any choice chosen.
She believes in both natural and logical consequences. Make sure the logical consequences are very related to the unwanted behavior, she says (and all parenting experts agree, although many are opposed to logical consequences in any form). She doesn’t seem to even consider that nonpunitive, less controlling parenting will get better results, nor is there evidence she's read the research reports that prove this.
Praise is a bad way of instilling self-esteem—it produces not self-esteem but dependency; verbally encouraging is bad for kids if it is done with You statements but good for kids if it is done with I statements ("I'm wondering how you felt when you drew that" or "I appreciate it when you help with dishes")
Douglas believes in praise. This is another tool in the behaviorism-based control-based parenting that uses punishments and rewards as its main tools. Although this more controlling type of parenting is more effective than Authoritarian, Permissive, or Neglectful parenting styles, it’s not the best type of Authoritative parenting as it hinders learning autonomy.
We hope that parenting styles, and the fields of parent education and parent training, adopt our categorization: Pseudo-Authoritative, Authoritative, and Authoritative Lite. Her Authoritative parenting is effective, but not as effective and nurturing and kind and sensitive as Authoritative Lite styles like P.E.T., Aware Parenting, Connection Parenting, Discipline Without Distress, Nonviolent Communication (N.V.C.), and Alfie Kohn's Unconditional Parenting, although they don't necessarily consider their methods "authoritative" since they reject control and logical consequences. Hence the word “Lite.” This categorization of ours solves the controversies around the terminology where the logical consequences subscribers and the nonsubscribers argue about terms like authoritative and democratic, painting the rivals with either the brushes of naïveté or overcontrolling, with some Democratic styles like P.E.T. even calling logical consequences subscribers Authoritarian, although this is a bit of an exaggeration!
On the plus side, Douglas rightly condemns spanking, but on the minus side, she says to ignore tantrums. She needs to read Helping Young Children Flourish, which illustrate the ideas of the Aware Parenting program by Aletha J. Solter. Ignoring is NOT best. She even advises us to “seek professional help if your child throws a tantrum every time he feels frustrated.” The reason he would do this is the tantrums are being ignored. If they are supported in the way Solter advises, you can forget the professional help idea. The parent is all that is needed.
Douglas rightly condemns spanking, but on the minus side, she says to ignore tantrums
Defining 2-year-olds' tantrums as bad, misbehavior, a symptom of a psychological problem, or something to ignore is incorrect—Douglas does the latter
She rightly says to use win-win problem solving when a child tells you about a problem he is having (after you do active listening, usually). Don’t just give advice—help your child come up with solutions himself. He wants his feelings heard, not to listen to Dear Abby. You can help them through the problem defining process and the problem solving process, and you may coach them to come up with solutions.
The author is undecided about paying for those A's on your child's report card. She realizes it might tend to make the child dependent on external rewards (like praise) rather than internal rewards (like pride for a job well done). The right answer is: do NOT use rewards or punishments on your kid!
The book is somewhat helpful for clueless parents, but it’s hardly “The Mother of” anything!
Here's a behaviorist's Skinner Box for conditioning LOWER animals—it uses rewards and punishments. Why would anyone insult a child by using this stuff on her? She's a human, not a rat!