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Authoritative and Democratic Parenting Programs
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The Big Answer

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Breakthrough Parenting

a book by Jayne A. Major

(our site's book review)

Major’s book is quite good in most ways, but it has a few exceptions. However benignly packaged, the Good Habit Chart is a step towards extrinsic rather than intrinsic motivation in children, especially since she suggests giving prizes as rewards. It represents constant parental judging and kids trying to please parents. This type of support for extrinsic rather than intrinsic motivation tends to create other-directed kids, not kids feeling they’re in control. A frowning or smiling face sends a message that all actions a kid does are to please parents. However subtle, a frowning face is a punishment and a smiling face is a reward.

“Moving in” has the same problem. It is getting in someone’s space—"closing in." “We become very aware when someone closes in on us” is her take on it. It represents parental power and control, even if somewhat subtly.

Major seems to be saying that a parent is in charge of ensuring homework gets done
Major seems to be saying that a parent is in charge of ensuring homework gets done

The homework and room cleaning issues are debatable, but Major seems to be saying that a parent is in charge of ensuring homework gets done and rooms get cleaned. It may become hard for a child to feel ownership of a thing that a parent seems to be managing. After all, whose homework is it? And whose room is it? Many good authoritative parenting styles get very “hands on” in these areas, so Major is in good company.

Now the good news: many aspects of the book are very wise and well thought out—remarkably so. For instance, her wisdom regarding the use of parental timeouts to promote conscious parenting is simply a well-written gem. And her writings on choosing, autonomy, self-actualization and freedom are unexpectedly insightful. The Breakthrough Parenting book is well worth the purchase for these sections alone.

She states that “Parenting and raising a family are not all up to you. It is important to create and make use of a wider support network.” This is standard knowledge for writers of parenting books, but it is sometimes forgotten. Happily, she didn’t.

She says that early childhood is a critical time to find a way to be with your kids, and that working more to get more things while having less time with your kids is a bad deal. Choose your kids instead. Of course she wrote this before the market tanked and the terrorism of 9/11 made the U.S. allocate much of its budget in foreign wars, and before the economy messed up in 2008. Families these days are both-parents-working families just to make ends meet—many MUST do this, so childcare suffers.

Okay, there's a huge childcare problem in the U.S. with no help in sight from the government or elsewhere, how do we help ourselves? The answer, at first, is to use babysitting co-ops to alleviate some of these issues. After all, if poorer families need 1/5 of their income for childcare, won't it give them more time with their kids if they get free childcare by being in a co-op?

But only MCs (microcommunities) can get anywhere near a total solution to the optimal childcare we all want for our kids. See Why Register for an MC?.

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