Monday, 16 August 2010

Parenting styles of home educators

I posted yesterday about the use of operant conditioning with children, which apparently left many readers with the impression that I am a cold and authoritarian parent. Some of the comments were very revealing; 'nauseous', abhorrent', 'distasteful' and so on. I am not altogether surprised by this, because the parenting style of many home educating parents who comment here is very different from my own. Let's have a look at parenting styles and see what the difference is between how I operate and how many other home educating parents seem to do things.

One of the most popular ways of categorising parenting styles is that devised by Diana Baumrind, an American developmental psychologist. Her classifications are very widely used these days. She divides parents into four types, based upon how demanding towards their children they are and how responsive to their needs. The first type are authoritarian parents. They are highly demanding, with very structured homes and expect instant obedience from their children. They are demanding without being responsive. Judging by some of the comments yesterday, this is how readers evidently see me! Perhaps this is because most of them seem to belong to the permissive or indulgent type of parent. This seems to be a very common type of home educator; they feel that they must not demand much of their children, focusing instead upon being responsive to their needs.
The children are free to choose how they wish to behave and few demands are made upon them. These parents are very non-traditional in the approach to parenting. Their children really direct their own lives and decide what they wish to do. There are also uninvolved or neglectful parents, who just leave their kids to it. These are both unresponsive and undemanding. I don't think many of the parents who come on here are like that.

The type of parenting which many psychologists today think is best is what is known as authoritative parenting. These parents are both very responsive but also demanding. This is child-centred parenting which has high expectations in terms of the child's behaviour. There is unconditional love combined with clear standards for the child. This sort of parenting is also known as balanced parenting and it is the parenting which most childcare experts today recommend.

Now I can see clear links between the indulgent or permissive style of parenting, in which few demands are made upon the child, and those home educating parents who describe themselves as autonomous or child centred. They allow the children to dictate what they wish to do, what they will learn and various other matters. Some have no set rules for bedtime or getting up in the morning and their children are almost entirely self-directed. No limits are set on television watching or computer use and no formal academic work is demanded. They do not like telling their children what to do and have an aversion to the word 'No'. Somebody who attends a home education group contacted me recently and said that the other parents at the group stared at her in shocked surprise because she often tells her son, 'No'. The feeling she got was that some home educating parents regarded this in the same light as smacking a child! It has to be said at once that this kind of parenting is associated with serious problems in adolescence and adulthood. What kind of problems? Well, drink and drugs for one. A recent study in America on teenage drinking found that the children of indulgent parents, those who are very warm emotionally to their children but make few demands upon them, are three times as likely to binge drink as the children of authoritative parents. The children of authoritarian parents were also at risk of misusing alcohol, as were those of uninvolved parents.

The children of permissive parents are also more prone to getting into trouble generally as adolescents than those of authoritative parents and also more likely to experiment with illegal drugs. Not surprisingly, they do not do as well academically either! On the plus side, indulgent parents do tend to have children high in self esteem and with low levels of depression. By far the best adjusted and happiest children and teenagers are those of authoritative parents. They are socially more competent than other children and generally better able to function in society. This is not only their own perception of themselves, they have very high self esteem, but also shows up on objective tests. Academically, this group also performs best.

A parenting style which imposes strong demands upon the child to behave in accordance with the parents expectations seems to be psychologically the best and most healthy for children. When this is combined with a child centred approach, unconditional love and a degree of flexibility, the resultant way of raising a child is called balanced parenting and it is almost universally recommended. Permissive parenting on the other hand, where the child decides for herself what she will do and when she will do it and few demands are made upon her by parents, is associated with many problems in later life. I said yesterday that I deliberately set out to use operant conditioning to modify my children's behaviour. I can make no such claim about my authoritative style of parenting. This came about through observing some pretty frightful children of friends, all of whom had been raised in an indulgent fashion by their misguided parents. These kids were generally of the spoilt brat type and some were so awful that we stopped inviting their parents round. It was the experience of those children which caused me to think carefully about what seemed the best way of childrearing. These were not dysfunctional families; most of those were uninvolved or neglectful parents. Our friends tend to be teachers, social workers and so on. The indulgent parenting style definitely seemed to be most popular among them.

48 comments:

  1. "A parenting style which imposes strong demands upon the child to behave in accordance with the parents expectations seems to be psychologically the best and most healthy for children."

    Wouldn't the outcome of authoritative parenting depend on what 'demands' the parent made of the child? The content as well as the style of parenting would be important.

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  2. "A recent study in America on teenage drinking found that the children of indulgent parents, those who are very warm emotionally to their children but make few demands upon them, are three times as likely to binge drink as the children of authoritative parents."

    That's funny: I've got three adult offspring who were brought up like that, none of whom drinks alcohol at all! I think parental role modeling is perhaps the most powerful factor in this: if the parents binge drink, the children might be more inclined to.

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  3. "That's funny: I've got three adult offspring who were brought up like that, none of whom drinks alcohol at all!"

    This is precisely like somebody listening to statistics about the link between smoking and lung cancer piping up with the comment, 'Well my uncle George smoked eighty a day and he lived to be ninety'! Obviously, not everybody who smokes will develop lung cancer. Obviously not all children of indulgent parents will abuse alcohol. That is why we conduct large surveys rather than depending upon anaecdotal evidence.

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  4. "Wouldn't the outcome of authoritative parenting depend on what 'demands' the parent made of the child? The content as well as the style of parenting would be important."

    Of course that's true. The other feature of authoritative parenting is the willingness to be flexible and negotiate. We are talking here of general styles and obviously any type of parenting can be misused.

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  5. "That is why we conduct large surveys rather than depending upon anaecdotal evidence."

    Precisely. Still looking forward to the evidence about romanticism in teaching in schools.

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  6. Do you have a link to the studies ? I was looking for something re authoratative v authoritarian v permissive a while back and had a google fail.

    and I do not claim my ten points.

    Ouffa.

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  7. " I think parental role modeling is perhaps the most powerful factor in this:"

    Not necessarily, although obviously it has a role. Partly because I don’t automatically associate binge drinking with parents at the high warmth/few expectations end of the spectrum, I think you’ll find it more in the “kids, what kids ? Oh, I almost forgot” side shoot of the spectrum which is typically low warmth and a mixed bag from laissez faire to ”authoritarian to the point of battery” in terms of expectations, or both depending on the mood/boozed up level.

    I don't know what the studies said, but a young person I was in the sub group "hugely authoritarian with sudden swing to massively permissive".

    I’ve had friends over the years in similar boats and those who had had the family swinging just as hard in the other direction.

    As far as I knew none of us were being modeled excessive or binge drinking. Which most of us more or less expressed as being the whole point. But we certainly did our best to outperform the most dedicated binge drinker of the naughties.

    It's the "swing set" as it were that interests me as a group because I'm interested in seeing if that "deep swing" factor accounts for a proportion of the poorer outcomes usually associated with children with divorced parents.

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  8. It all depends where you're standing. One person's authoritarian is another person's indulgent fool.

    I'm interested in 'non-traditional' as a concept. Whose traditions are we talking about here? Surely parenting traditions are extremely varied. Go back a few hundred years and I think most of us would look ridiculously indulgent. Some present day cultures have very different traditions to others too.

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  9. I agree, Allie. I would class myself as authoritative. However, our educational journey has been largely child-directed and we tended not to have boundaries on bedtimes or screen time. I have always been responsive and clear in the demands I make on my children - but I have negotiated and agreed the areas in which I make demands, rather than imposing them. For example, when my DC chose to start a course in something (swimming, music, trampolining, whatever) or to attend a club, I expected them to complete the course, attend regularly, obey the rules of the club, etc.

    It is always dangerous to look at behaviour and impute motives. Similarly, it is not sensible to assume that someone is necessarily a laissez-faire parent because they are a proponent of autonomous education. I also do not see that deliberate and intentional use of operant conditioning necessarily makes for a good parent - an authoritarian parent could use it deliberately and intentionally to control without being responsive to the child's needs. In fact, it is somewhat offensive to suggest that autonomous educators have not carefully thought through their position.

    One of the reasons I have EHEd, and in the way in which I have done, is that my own parents were towards the authoritarian end of the scale.

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  10. "an authoritarian parent could use it deliberately and intentionally to control without being responsive to the child's needs"

    Could, but is more likely to attempt to control via a wallop (or send you to bed with no dinner etc.) if you don't respond to "jump" with "how high?"

    I've never really seen authoritarian parents as being that interested in "what makes kids tick", more a case of "I don't care how you tick, it's my way or the highway".

    IMPE they tend to lean towards using punitive measures to influence future behavior, rather than looking to head behaviors off at the pass.

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  11. Good point Allie. Parenting styles are often influenced by the socio-economic environment. If you are parenting a large family, parenting in wartime or when economic conditions are very harsh, it's quite difficult to be indulgent. You can successfully cut children a lot more slack if you only have one child, times are easy and you have plenty of cash.

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  12. " Similarly, it is not sensible to assume that someone is necessarily a laissez-faire parent because they are a proponent of autonomous education"

    ___________________-


    I agree, but by the same token it is not sensible to by default, define someone as a "coercive" parent because they aren't into autonomous education.

    I'll have more sympathy over people reinventing the boundaries of loaded words so they can feel justified in labeling AHEs negatively, when the concept of AHE is no longer associated with a similar reinvented boundary issue of a loaded term used in an exclusionary manner.

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  13. " Similarly, it is not sensible to assume that someone is necessarily a laissez-faire parent because they are a proponent of autonomous education."

    The laissez-faire parents would probably fall more into the classification of uninvolved parents. What I said was that:

    'Now I can see clear links between the indulgent or permissive style of parenting, in which few demands are made upon the child, and those home educating parents who describe themselves as autonomous or child centred.'

    A clear link, not an assumption that the two are identical!

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  14. "You can successfully cut children a lot more slack if you only have one child, times are easy and you have plenty of cash."

    You can, but whether this is good for the child is another matter entirely.

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  15. "I'm interested in 'non-traditional' as a concept. Whose traditions are we talking about here? "

    The expression 'non-traditional' was a quotation from the literature. I did not mean to suggest anything by it.

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  16. "In fact, it is somewhat offensive to suggest that autonomous educators have not carefully thought through their position."

    This is a bit rummy! Yesterday I made it clear that I had planned carefully how to raise my daughter and expressed surprise that anyone might fail to do this. One response is below:



    '"Did you, on becoming a parent, embark on life with your child as some sort of operation to produce the optimum young adult?"

    "Of course I did this. I rather assumed that everybody did!"

    I never thought about my life with my children in those terms.'

    The impression I gained was that some people thought it rather cold blooded of me to decide that I wanted a polite, well behaved, kind and industrious young person and would take any necessary steps to produce that outcome. Now I am being offensive by assuming that autonomous educators don't also plan like this!

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  17. OK, Simon, so you took "non-traditional" from the literature. I'd still be interested to know what you *think* it means in this context. Whose traditions, do you think? How far back in history shall we go? How children have been, and are, treated by adults is so varied.

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  18. "Whose traditions, do you think? "

    Throughout almost the whole of recorded history parents have been in charge and children have pretty well been expected to do as they were told. This was certainly the general case in this country until a few decades ago. This of course is why Summerhill was regarded as being so radical. I assumed that by 'non-trditional', the authors meant that the children were granted a degree of autonomoy and allowed to decide for themeselves what they did and when they did it. This would certainly be 'non-traditional', even in the context of childrearing in twnety first century Britain.

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  19. The difference between setting out to change a child's behaviour - or, in the longer term, setting out to produce a particular sort of person - and my position is that I don't think your approach takes enough account of the child as a *person* - an active agent. The way you describe the process implies that the child is the *object* of an exercise by the adult.

    Life with other people is about relationships - two way processes. I might wish that another person would change their behaviour and so I might discuss that with them, demonstrate my feelings in a number of ways, consider their response - and so on. In the end, it is up to them whether or not they change that behaviour. In the process of explanation and negotiation I might come to understand them better - and myself.

    That doesn't mean that I spent hours every day negotiating every litte thing with my toddlers. But it did mean that I was open to hearing (and observing and so on) what was important to them - and adjusting things accordingly. I learned, for example, that going about in full Batman costume can be really important to a four year old and I decided that outweighed any discomfort I might feel. I could have set out to manipulate that behaviour away because I wanted a more mainstream and acceptable appearance for my child at the supermarket. But actually, you know, *I* learned something by being more open to my child's desires. It wasn't about indulgence - just respect.

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  20. " I learned, for example, that going about in full Batman costume can be really important to a four year old and I decided that outweighed any discomfort I might feel"

    That to me is what defines the difference between Perfect Parents (those doing it in theory cos they haven't got any yet) and Parents.

    I nearly fell off my perch when I brought him home and very quickly discovered that despite being very miniature, he most definitely had a personality and very strong ideas about how this gig was going to work for him.

    You have to work out which hills you are prepared to die on (car seats/licking plughole), and which you aren’t, mainly because many things that meant a lot to him with his infant/toddler/child perspective (being breastfed for like…forever/not sharing special toys) got crossed off the list of issues simply because seeing things through his eyes turned them into non-issues.

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  21. "You have to work out which hills you are prepared to die on"

    Isn't that the truth! You certainly have to make decisions on this, right from day one. This is still the case here and my daughter will be seventeen in a few days time. Not only do you have to decide which battles you wish to fight, but also which you can win. For example no matter how strongly you feel about vegetables and vitamins, it is quite literally impossible to force a child to eat and swallow a carrot. Turning this into a battle simply means that you will automatically lose and this teaches children that you cannot really make them do a lot of things. The longer it takes for them to realise this dangerous fact, the better.

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  22. "Turning this into a battle simply means that you will automatically lose and this teaches children that you cannot really make them do a lot of things."

    Exactly. I remember like yesterday the moment when the penny dropped that for all the posturing, my dad couldn't do damn thing about it if I refused to obey. It was like Samson getting a high speed haircut right before my eyes.

    At which point I went on my own power rush and made a point of rubbing his face into my lack of obeying as dangerously and as often as humanly possible.

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  23. "Exactly. I remember like yesterday the moment when the penny dropped that for all the posturing, my dad couldn't do damn thing about it if I refused to obey."

    Yes, however much we try to assert our authority, the truth is that every single thing we do with our children is really by cooperation. Even getting a child dressed cannot be accomplished without the child's agreement. I have told my daughter frankly that there is absolutely nothing that I can do to control her behaviour if she chooses to go against my wishes. This is clearly understood between us and has been for years. I am not so old that I cannot remember having girlfriends of seventeen whose fathers forbade me the house and banned their daughters from seeing me. It did not of course work, nor could it ever. All that happened was an elaborate web of deciet as they pretended to be visiting a friends houses to revise for A levels. I am not about to start that particular game with my daughter; I don't think my nerves would stand it!

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  24. Hmm, interesting. I had no such revelation with my parents. I feel like I always knew. My parents were clear that we chose how to behave and had to deal with the consequences. I don't mean made up consequences like punishment - I mean the real consequences of upsetting people or making them happy.

    We were also a family that discussed power and control quite a lot.

    In fact, when I started school and disliked all the shouting, bossy adults, my mum pointed out to me that I could appear compliant but they would never know what I was thinking. Stood me in good stead.

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  25. The conversation has moved on rather but, Simon, I did not mean to suggest it was "cold blooded of [you] to decide that [you] wanted a polite, well behaved, kind and industrious young person". It was the conscious and deliberate use of operant conditioning from day one that I was repelled by.

    I also had an idea of the outcome I wanted from child-rearing and I undoubtedly supplied positive and negative reinforcement (to the extent that all parents do - those terms are merely labels used by academics to describe behaviour). What I understood you to be saying is that you, in effective, laid out a programme and followed it in order to bring about specific behaviors (treating your daughter as an experiment, in a similar fashion to Piaget).

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  26. "Yes, however much we try to assert our authority, the truth is that every single thing we do with our children is really by cooperation. Even getting a child dressed cannot be accomplished without the child's agreement. I have told my daughter frankly that there is absolutely nothing that I can do to control her behaviour if she chooses to go against my wishes. This is clearly understood between us and has been for years. I am not so old that I cannot remember having girlfriends of seventeen whose fathers forbade me the house and banned their daughters from seeing me. It did not of course work, nor could it ever. All that happened was an elaborate web of deciet as they pretended to be visiting a friends houses to revise for A levels. I am not about to start that particular game with my daughter; I don't think my nerves would stand it! "

    It sounds like you have more in common with autonomous educators than you think. This was exactly what motivated me to abandon all pretence of controlling my children. We told our eldest, then 9 year old son, that he couldn't play his gameboy in the morning and I caught him playing it one morning under his duvet. I was flooded with the memories of how I deceitfully got around my father's attempts to exert control on me and did exactly the things he wanted to prevent (such as nearly falling pregnant at the age of 16, hanging around with a bunch of drug addict bikers and so on) and vowed then and there that I wasn't going to have that kind of relationship with my children.

    Focusing on one's child's needs and not saying "no" too often do not preclude clear guidance. I think that some unschooling parents misinterpret this to mean that children must be allowed to run wild and infringe others' rights and personal property. Some of the discussions on the radical unschoolers network discussion forum shed light on this issue. For instance, there is a discussion thread on setting boundaries here http://familyrun.ning.com/forum/topics/boundaries-and-unschooling-as

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  27. "Throughout almost the whole of recorded history parents have been in charge and children have pretty well been expected to do as they were told."

    Are you sure? My take is that throughout recorded history parenting methods have been a contentious issue. Views have ranged from the child being seen as a chattel, through to parents who would be very sympathetic to Rousseau. The Bible, Shakespeare, Austen, Dickens... all have described and commented on a range of parenting styles. I don't think any concluded that the principle of children 'doing as they are told' was either always adhered to or always desirable.

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  28. "It was the conscious and deliberate use of operant conditioning from day one that I was repelled by.....

    What I understood you to be saying is that you, in effective, laid out a programme and followed it in order to bring about specific behaviors (treating your daughter as an experiment, in a similar fashion to Piaget)."

    In other words, it is OK to use operant conditioning in a slipshod and haphazard way, but if it is undertaken systematically, then that is repulsive. Have I got that right? This is a curious perspective. It is fine to use a certain method, provided that it is not done efficiently!

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  29. " Views have ranged from the child being seen as a chattel, through to parents who would be very sympathetic to Rousseau. The Bible, Shakespeare, Austen, Dickens... all have described and commented on a range of parenting styles."

    Throughout the Bible and also the characters in books by the authors you mention is the assumption that children under the age of sixteen are expected to follow parental instructions. True, they don't always do so, but the underlaying theme is that this is the natural order of things. As for the Bible, just look at what happens to those cheeky kids in 2 Kings 2:24! One moment they're jeering at Elisha, shouting: 'Go up thou baldhead', next thing you know forty two of them have been eaten by bears. There's a moral tale for you about how children should behave!

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  30. No, I am not saying it is better to use a method inefficiently. I AM saying that all parents use operant conditioning. Researchers have a phrase for it because it is something that occurs naturally. Therapists deliberately build on this naturally occurring phenomenon and use it in developing structured treatments for undesirable conditions or delayed development. This involves the therapist (sometimes the parent) in systematic application of simulations of the natural phenomena.

    The idea that I (and others) find repellant is that of a parent deliberately setting out to treat their child like a test subject or patient and consciously applying a technique that involves, at some level, a distortion of the natural parent-child relationship.

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  31. "Throughout the Bible and also the characters in books by the authors you mention is the assumption that children under the age of sixteen are expected to follow parental instructions. True, they don't always do so, but the underlaying theme is that this is the natural order of things."

    Under 16? Where did that come from? The ages of consent, majority and criminal responsibility have moved hither and yon over the centuries - if there were any such thresholds at all of course. The patriarchs' children were expected to obey their parents throughout their lifetime, and a recurring theme was the dilemma facing the child if the parent did something morally wrong. I believe Shakespeare might have dealt with the same issue. Injunctions to children to obey their parents arose because they frequently didn’t, as the Elisha story and others illustrate only too well.

    Austen or Dickens both questioned any assumption that children were expected to follow parental instructions, in that the parents in their novels could be intolerably cruel or bit batty.

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  32. "Under 16? Where did that come from?"

    The Criminal Law Amendment Act 1885. I was using a modern perspective to get the idea across. I could have just said young children.

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  33. "a distortion of the natural parent-child relationship."

    Is there such a thing as a natural parent-child relationship? Surely, we all look at our own parenting methods and call that the wise and good pattern by which to judge how others raise their children?

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  34. "A parenting style which imposes strong demands upon the child to behave in accordance with the parents expectations seems to be psychologically the best and most healthy for children."

    Why constrain them by the limitations of the parents idea
    This might help.
    http://www.curi.us/1386-tcs-basics-3

    this too
    http://www.alice-miller.com/books_en.php?page=2

    I've found the thoughts and ideas of Alice Miller helpful to motivate me to implement those "popperian" ideas on fallibility and liberty in parenting that you are so dismissive of. You are right of course that Poppers theories are fallible. An AHE parent will of course be developing their own theory of learning and parenting and improving it as they make errors.

    The essence of this kind of parenting is that focusing on problem solving and the seeking of common preferences develops both learning skill and social ability.

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  35. "It sounds like you have more in common with autonomous educators than you think."

    This afternoon I held the founding meeting of the Pavia HomeSchoolyEducaty Group at my house.

    I met my first ever live home educator in the flesh.

    She is an unschooler and I am not, we had a whale of a time (as did our collective four kids ranging from 18 months to ten) and I'm pretty sure we have far more in common than we don't.

    Labels are great shorthand, but they focus on differences and division. Whipped off the similarities come out to play.

    I'm in a home educatyschooly group !!!

    (whirls around excitedly like a four year old...and falls over with a 42 year old dizzy spell)

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  36. "The idea that I (and others) find repellant is that of a parent deliberately setting out to treat their child like a test subject or patient and consciously applying a technique that involves, at some level, a distortion of the natural parent-child relationship. "

    that was my initial reaction too. "It's a baby, not a bloody potato clock"

    But then when I had time the think about it, look at the huge number of books by “experts” sold to expecting or new parents.

    It’s all research, sought with the idea of finding a (range of) technique(s) that will help them do the best by their kid. Most of the experts are just a stepping stone between us the end users and the men in labs with the rats, cos they repackage the research in terms that appeal to people with small, tiny babies, when they are knee deep in fluffy rabbits and pungent nappies.

    If he had been going deeply against the paternal grain, muttering "what happens if I do this ?"........ "hmmm, subject initiates self harming..interesting"......... "having altered parameters A and C to introduce concepts of bahdibahdiblah, self harming ceased. In order to control for confounding factors a cycle of reintroduction of previous parameters will be embarked upon to test the hypothesis for replication" then yes, that fits the vision of him becoming a man with a less hairy rat, rather than becoming a father.

    But back to reality, the only diff between Simon and most other parents is that he hopped over the media personality stepping stone and went straight to the man with the rats to seek out info that made sense to him on a daddy level.

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  37. "The idea that I (and others) find repellant is that of a parent deliberately setting out to treat their child like a test subject or patient and consciously applying a technique that involves, at some level, a distortion of the natural parent-child relationship. "

    Which as Sarah points out, disposes of everybody from Penelope Leach to Maria Montessori. Hands up anybody reading this who has ever taken advice from any person or book on how to cope with sleeping or feeding problems in a baby? Whoa guys, better back off! You don't want to be 'consciously applying a technique that involves, at some level, a distortion of the natural parent-child relationship.'

    Get a grip! Every parent does this regularly. What's the difference? Ooh, ooh, I know the answer to this one. It is sub-conscious sexism. When a mother takes advice from another woman about how to raise a baby, that's not a ' distortion of the natural parent-child relationship'. When a father follows the advice of a man, there is something sinsiter and just plain wrong about it. It is 'repelent', nauseous', 'abhorrent' and 'distasteful'. Good job I'm not the sort of guy to get upset by a bit of sexism.

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  38. I do not wish to indulge in name-calling. I was not being sexist.

    For the last time: I see a difference between 1) gaining a variety of information and advice from hither and yon and creating a personal mode of child-rearing; and 2) seeking out a specific piece of behaviour modification theory used in therapeutic contexts and applying it strictly to achieve specific behaviours.

    I understood Simon to have said that he fell into the second case.

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  39. "seeking out a specific piece of behaviour modification theory used in therapeutic contexts and applying it strictly to achieve specific behaviours."

    Well, that's the naughty step out then! (Not, I hasten to add, that this was a technique that I applied myself 'to achieve specific behaviours')

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  40. @scatty

    Love the link, that is my evening's reading sorted for the night.

    Ta mucho !

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  41. " I was not being sexist. "

    I don't think any of us who found that the initial description "didn't speak to us" are being sexist per se. Just hearing what may be distant thunder of a change that is coming.

    The language of child rearing is geared to the feminine. The terms, the explanations, the packaging if you will, has to be. Or we won't buy it or buy into it, because it does not "speak to us". So the feminine description is what is perceived as “right” or “natural”. Cos that is the mass market where the money is.


    As fathers become ever more involved as team, co or sole parents I think we are going to see a shift in how language is altered so the info/product "speaks to them" too, on a first person basis. They will likely become less tolerant of needing to have to do an internal translation when consuming or regurgitating as their voice becomes less rare.


    If that happens I think that means we (women) may have to make a shift too, in the acceptance of their (odd to us) different ..way of looking at things, way of talking about things when it comes to bringing up baby, minus the “It’s a baby, not a bloody potato clock” attitude.


    I'm not a big expert on men talking about parenting, cos mine just grunts at me and mutters about being knackered enough from doing it and not having any energy left to talk about it too .... especially when Inter is playing.

    But I'd guess what sounds "natural" to us might be rather "unnatural" for them if they have to apply it to themselves in the first person, rather than the more traditional viewing of it as second hand, as being what "mothers are supposed to do/be/think/feel”.

    And potentially what cropped up in the last couple of posts, is that the same thing works vice versa.

    I think we may see some interesting changes in how the language|vision of child rearing expresses itself, the images it uses and how analytical (dare I say...clinical) it becomes, as men become ever more involved in the process.

    I don't think it really matters if the difference between genders’ visions of “what is a natural parent” is caused by social constructs, or just is what it is. The money men will make sure that "info" is available in "man speak" just as soon as there is a big enough market for it.

    Bloody hell I want to go to bed, not post all night. Will you all stop saying stuff that makes me think, cos it is disturbing my ability to consume vast amounts of crap telly in peace without my head wittering quietly in the background . I completely did not follow Defying Gravity tonight and it’s all your lot's fault. LOL

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  42. "For instance, there is a discussion thread on setting boundaries here http://familyrun.ning.com/forum/topics/boundaries-and-unschooling-as"

    Great discussion, scatty, thanks for the link.

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  43. Pleasure, Sarah. We seem to have a lot in common. I'll soon be the same age as you...and the incident with the game boy and the duvet took place when we were living in Varese...to be more precise, in a little village called Malgesso about 20 minutes from the city.

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  44. We actually learnt, whilst living with the dire lack of homeschoolers in Italy and Germany, that people who have wildly different styles of home education can still find common ground. The only homeschooling mother (Lynn, who came from America) I knew in Italy was a self-declared "unschooler", whilst I was an "eclectic homeschooler". Since then, I'd say we've swopped places, with her sons doing a lot of academics to prepare themselves for college and mine...well, he's started studying to prepare for his learner's driving test.

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  45. Simon.

    I did not call your methods nauseous, or you nauseous at all. I said my initial reaction to your description was to FEEL nauseous. That means it says something about ME not you. I also immediately went on to explain that I thought we all did this anyway to a strong degree and we'd be fooling ourselves to claim that we didn't.

    Sexist? Mmmm...I don't think so. Two of the strongest influences on my mothering style were 'Raising your child, not by force but by love' by Sidney D Craig and stuff by William Sears ('Nightime Parenting' etc) as well as some women writers.

    Sadly, I couldn't look to my parents' eg because they were useless, so I had to find out for myself how to do the whole parenting thing.

    Mrs Anon

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  46. I'm only engaging in a little teasing, Mrs Anon, not seriously accusing you or anybody else of sexism. Mind you, if I told you that reading your comments made me feel nauseous, I have an idea that you would be a bit put out!

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  47. "Mind you, if I told you that reading your comments made me feel nauseous, I have an idea that you would be a bit put out!"

    Yet you say far worse about autonomous educators and are surprised at their reactions? But then maybe not. Most of your blog seems aimed at winding autonomously educating parents up.

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