Monday, August 19, 2013

How Does Our Parenting Affect Our Children?

My goal in raising our children the way we do- without coercion, without punishments, without schooling- is ultimately for them to be able to lead happy, healthy lives. I hope, among other things, they are able to work well with other people and have healthy, meaningful relationships. This is why we put a lot of emphasis on communication skills, being free and able to express thoughts and feelings, property rights, and negotiations. I know we're not nearly perfect at it, but we try.

We're the only family in the neighborhood who parents this way. I couldn't tell you what exactly the other parents think of Josh (8y) while he's playing at their houses, but I can give you some examples of what I observe when their kids come over here.

Situation I-
Neighbor Kid is made to share all his toys when people come over, and house rules to not apply to, or at least are much more flexible for, guests. He comes to our house and demands to play with anything he wants. He becomes very upset when he doesn't get what he wants, and threatens to break other toys unless given what he demands. He slams doors, jumps on our furniture, throws things, etc.

Situation II-
Neighbor Kid is spanked or yelled at as discipline, and "talking back" isn't allowed. When faced with any minute amount of conflict, Kid shuts down and shuffles over to me expecting me to resolve the situation. I ask questions but can't hardly understand his answers because he speaks so softly and mumbles. Even in the absence of conflict, he shrinks away if Papa or I try to talk to him.

Situation III-
Set of three Neighbor Kid brothers are kept on a tight leash. Just about every single thing they do has to be approved by Mom or Dad. They come to play and ask me to text their mom to ask- if they can drink our water, if they can eat pickles, if they can ride our scooters, if they can watch certain movies, if their youngest brother can use our restroom...

Situation IV-
Two Neighbor Kid brothers live in a house where yelling comes first and questions are asked later, if at all. There is a mix up of which water bottle belongs to whom, and World War III breaks out in my garage.

Now, I'm not saying the method of parenting is the direct cause of how these situations played out, but I think it is a contributing factor. Nor am I saying Josh never acts like this when he's at other people's houses. I'm simply asking that we all question how our parenting methods and the problem solving skills we model to our children affect how they interact with other people when we're not around, and are these affects to the benefit of our children?

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