Sunday, December 12, 2010

Unconditional Parenting: Chapter 1

Chapter 1: Conditional Parenting

I am having serious writer's block for some reason.   I think its because I have so much to say on this topic, I don't know where to start!!

So, I am just going to open up the flood gates and ask, what do ya''ll think??

These are some of my favorite quotes from the first chapter:

"We ought to love them, for no good reason, and furthermore, what counts is not just that we believe we love unconditionally, but that they feel loved in that way."

"Whatever lesson we hoped to impart was far more likely to be learned if she knew that our love her was undimmed by how she had acted."

"Compulsory apologies mostly train children to say things they don't mean--that is, to lie."

"In our society, we are taught that good things must always be earned, never given away."

"Ultimately, conditional parenting reflects a tendency to to see almost every human interaction, even among family members, as kind of economic transaction."

"Unconditional parenting insists that the family ought to be a haven, a refuge, from such transactions.  Love from parents is purely and simply a gift.  It is something to which all children are entitled."

So tell me, tell me, what were your favorite parts of the first chapter?  What parts struck in your heart and felt profound?

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Blogger Princess Pioneer said...

With our two kids, I had noticed that my older daughter was making her younger brother angry on purpose. My husband would want her to say she was sorry, but I noticed that was not helping and didn't think she should say it, if she didn't mean it. I was really happy to find this book validated my intuition. It was such a breath of fresh air.

December 12, 2010 at 9:22 PM  
Blogger dulce de leche said...

I *love* UC. It totally changed my mind on parenting. I really liked the quotes you mentioned in particular. :). I need to read it all again.

December 12, 2010 at 10:52 PM  
Blogger Sarah said...

I'm so glad that you suggested this book!

Honestly, I initially did not think I would appreciate it so much. He makes many excellent points and presents everything so logically, that there really is no arguing it. I think that on a deep level I already knew that what he is saying makes sense, but I had gotten to a point where I wasn't following through with it. At the very least, reading Unconditional Parenting reminded me that it is my job as a parent to prepare my child for the world and the most important foundation for any child is knowing that they are loved completely with no strings attached.

I've already promised the book out to several of my friends and have begged my husband (who is not a reader) to read the book. He and I have been debating "UC". I think that my points have made sense to him as he no longer tells me that I'm coddling our son, but he really needs to read the book for the full impact.

I can't pick any particular statement or idea from the first chapter. The whole book was pretty profound. One of the ideas that is a great reminder for everyone is that our intention does not equal a child's (or anyone's) perception. It is important to see things the way that your child might see them.... not the way that you expect them to be seen.

December 13, 2010 at 8:58 AM  
Blogger Holly Galotti said...

Wow, this book is so good already! Just the first line, "I have sometimes derived comfort from the idea that, despite all the mistakes I've made (and will continue to make) as a parent, my children will turn out just fine for the simple reason that I really love them." I have thought this to myself so many times already and my baby is only 6 months old. The hope that all my love will be enough. In fact, this may be my mantra whenever things get challenging ha!
A part that really stuck out to me was, on page 14, when he talks about forcing children to apologize. I can't count how many times this happened at the store where I work. A young child will do anything from accidentally breaking something to just being kind of loud and they'd be marched over to me by their parent and told to "apologize to the lady." It always makes me so uncomfortable and I never know how to respond. It does seem true that this only makes the child recite whatever words will make their parent happy.
The next part that really had me thinking was the line on page 16 that says, "At least in part, then, conditional parenting is based on the deeply cynical belief that accepting kids for who they are just frees them to be bad because, well, that's who they are." My husband and I talked about this a lot last night. (I'm trying to lure him into reading this book, but it seems I may have to read it to him).
Toward the end of the chapter where he's talking about women who felt they were only loved when they lived up to their parents expectations and yet tended to parent the same way struck a cord with me, definitely. I'm interested to read more about resisting the inclination to just discipline and parent a certain way simply because it feels familiar.
Loving this book so far, great pick!

December 13, 2010 at 10:57 AM  
Blogger Rachel said...

Well, I am going to play the Devil's Advocate - so far, I am a bit skeptical of some of the assertions the author makes about certain techniques or styles of parenting. I am only through the first two chapters, and while I feel that I agree with the concept and goals and techniques of UC, I am not buying everything the author is selling. And I'll be up front and say that I am a first time parent, and I have no pre-set notion of how I want to raise my children - so I am not in one camp or the other with regard to stickers or timeouts and all that stuff - just trying to figure out what makes sense to me). So, that is why even though I don't like the author's preachy tone or style, I'll keep on soldiering through to the end.

Gotta run - I'll try and post more thoughts later.

December 14, 2010 at 10:28 AM  
Blogger Mama And Baby Love said...

@Princess Pioneer, the saying sorry thing was a big eye opener for me...Ava and Ella used to steal toys, hit, whatever, all. day. long. So all. day. long. I was forcing them to apologize to each other because I didn't know any better. It makes so much more sense to take the time to explain to them that when we hurt someone, saying sorry is a nice way to make the person feel better and then leaving it up the
child to say sorry or not. I also think teaching about asking for forgiveness/and then for the hurt child to forgive, would be important here too, not just about saying sorry. I love that UC is all about taking the time and effort to teach children the right way to behave, not using tactics to control them and MAKE them behave.

@Sarah...I hear ya about getting the hubs to read it! We ordered the DVD for him to watch instead, because it would take years of me nagging him, for him to actually read it. He hasn't finished the DVD, its a 2 hour video of presentation on the book. But what he has watched has really made him think about how his parents raised him. glad you like the book! he goes into why parents tend to parents like their parents even though they don't want to, in later chapters. It's very interesting.

@Rachel...devil's advocate's are welcome!
I never noticed the preachy tone, I wonder if anyone else felt that way?
Keep us posted about how you feel as you go through the book and what some of the assertions you are skeptical of.
Not giving praise was what was really hard to wrap my head around at first. I spent some time talking with one of my favorite AP bloggers (she is who introduced me to UC in the first place!) and she helped make it more clear for me, about the praise part anyway, here is a link to our convo:

thank you to everyone for your comments! I so appreciate you taking the time to chime in.

December 14, 2010 at 1:48 PM  
Blogger Rachel said...

Ok - now to some specific reactions I had as I read the book:

Preachy Tone - it may just be my "law school critical reading" coming out, but sometimes I feel like the author goes off on a tangent to preach about something, rather than staying focused on educating and persuading the reader about UP. Maybe it is just because it is early in the book, but I am hoping I notice this less as we advance through the chapters.

My Big Beef with Chapter 1 - I think it is how the author is painting any alternative to UP. It seems as if the author is saying that the alternative, what he calls conditional parenting, focuses only on a child's behavior and not the actual child. I find it hard to think that a parent that relies on stickers or timeouts or some other "conditional" method is not concerned with or unaware of their child's thoughts, feelings, and motivations. I am not advocating using those approaches, but I feel uncomfortable demonizing parents for just one aspect of their parent/child relationship. So, to summarize, I agree with where the author is taking us in terms of goals and understanding how children need to know they are loved unconditionally. I just don't like his method of getting us there - I feel it is ignoring how complex and multi-faceted a parent/child relationship actually is. Hopefully this will be addressed in later chapters.

December 15, 2010 at 12:39 PM  
Blogger Lia Dominique Andress said...

I went to the link. I love the conversation you had with her. Def a cheat sheet for what to replace "good job" with. I love the book. It is helping me get over personal issues as a child raised by two crazy conditional parents. I have always worried I would turn out like them and now I see how I can avoid it. This is a BIG BIG deal.


December 15, 2010 at 8:07 PM  
Anonymous Dr Sarah said...

It's been years since I read this book, but I remember the concept absolutely blew me away – the idea that we shouldn't just take it for granted that children need to be rewarded or punished into behaving properly, but should be much more open to the possibility of them learning how to behave in certain ways because they genuinely want to please us and co-operate. There are points I disagreed with on closer reading and thinking, but I still regard it as such a benchmark book (is that the word I want? Anyway, a real paradigm shift for me.)

The two bits that stuck in my mind most when I tried to think back to the first chapter turned out, when I went back to the book, to be from the introduction, but I'll post them here anyway as there isn't a separate section for the introduction:

'Picture yourself standing at a birthday party or in the hall of your child's school. Around the corner are two other parents who don't know you're there. You overhear them talking about... your child! Of all the things they might be saying, what would give you the most pleasure? Again, pause for a moment to think of a word or a sentence that you would be especially delighted to hear. My guess – and my hope – is that it wouldn't be, “Boy, that child does everything he's told and you never hear a peep out of him.” The crucial question, therefore, is whether we sometimes act as though that *is* what we care about the most.' (Great for getting the perspective onto the important things.)

'Author Barbara Coloroso remarks that she's often heard parents of teenagers complain, “He was such a good kid, so well behaved, so well mannered, so well dressed. Now look at him!” To this, she replies: “From the time he was young, he dressed the way you told him to dress; he acted the way you told him to act; he said the things you told him to say. He's been listening to somebody else tell him what to do.... He hasn't changed. He is still listening to somebody else tell him what to do. The problem is, it isn't you anymore; it's his peers.” ' (A salutary reminder of why obedience really isn't that great a virtue, no matter how convenient it may be.)

December 18, 2010 at 7:01 AM  
Blogger Carolyn said...

We'll be a bit behind and playing catch up later . . . this book will be in my Christmas stocking. :)

December 19, 2010 at 9:20 PM  
Blogger Lura said...

I'm with Carolyn, I will be joining in a little late after Christmas =)

December 20, 2010 at 3:04 PM  

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