Thursday, October 30, 2008

#1 way to feel like a bad parent: read this book!

To be honest, I have started Unconditional Parenting: Moving from Rewards and Punishments to Love and Reason several times. Every time I have read a few pages and gotten seriously depressed. And quit reading. Because although Alfie Kohn tries to be nice about it, he can't help but point out that you have probably already screwed up your child for life and the only solution is to send your kids to him so he can fix them. Well, maybe it doesn't say that part... I haven't gotten to the solution portion of the book. For all I know it says to hang them upside down from an elm (not oak, never oak!) tree for 10 minutes a day. Probably not though. There is no parenting "solution" as easy as that. Assuming you live near an elm tree. Where others can't view it and see what you are doing. And call child services on you.

Anyway, I am determined to finish the book this time. Because even though it makes me feel like I do EVERYTHING wrong and every utterance I make to my child is another chance for me to get it wrong, this book is a veritable bible to most parents I hang out with and respect. So I will buckle down and read it. And feel like crap. And see how so many of my own issues were caused by the combination of the culture in which I was raised and my parent's spin on how you should raise a child within said culture. And feel utterly hopeless about all of it. Man do I hope the solution portion of this book is thorough. Once something strips away all hope, it really should try to give you back something. Right? Please?

I plan to immediately follow it with a Buddhism for Mothers: A Calm Approach to Caring for Yourself and Your Children chaser. That always soothes the soul. Aahhhh.


  1. yes yes yes. Every chapter I kept yelling " Yes I get it. I totally have screwed up but what do I DO about it". He doesn't really tell you until very close to the end and doesn't say enough. Very unsatisfying. I mean I get it. It's good stuff, just after all the build up of guilt I needed lots of tools to save it all. Read Playful Parenting. Much better at giving you tools.

  2. I totally agree with you and the previous commenter. I felt like I already agreed in principle with what he was talking about but he didn't really offer any solutions. It seemed like he assumed that all parents who parented with control didn't want to change their ways and as a result he always sounded so harsh to me.

    Playful Parenting was full of energy and ideas. I also loved How to Talk So Kids Will Listen... Sarah Napthali's books were also nice to read -- she has lots of quotes from buddhist mothers.

    I have a whole list of books on my web site: peaceful parenting.

    There are a lot out there, so pick the books that work for you and leave the rest on the shelf! Or just skim to the end of this book and call it "read." ;)


  3. or you could skip books by strangers and learn from friends and family that you respect. children are not fragile mantle pieces, they are robust physically and emotionally. just a thought. from an outsider...