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To be unsure about Unconditional parenting because.....

(184 Posts)
poshsinglemum Wed 14-Oct-09 20:44:03

I have not read all of the book because for some reason it got on my nerves. I like a lot of what he says but my main gripe is that the author implies that you do not love your child unconditionally if you tell them off or speak to them in a stern manner. I think that it is really unfair to make parents feel guilty for telling their kids off.
Or have I got the wrong end of the stick?

Of course I completely agree with avoiding emotional blackmail and bullying and I love to be fun and loving to my dd but there are times when I have to say a stern no if she is going to hurt herself and I daresay there will be more times in the future.
Also I think it takes a real level of saintly patience to be on the level and practice up all the time, especially if like me, you are knackered a lot of the time!

ib Wed 14-Oct-09 20:47:06

I agree. I felt that it completely fails to recognise that parents are human beings, and that allowing your child to behave like a spoilt brat without communicating that this is in any way undesirable is bound to be counterproductive in the long term.

Totally agree with the principle of making sure your children know that you love them no matter what, it was just the way he seemed to say that you should put it into practice that seemed completely unrealistic to me.

Frankly, if I tried to behave in some of those ways towards ds I probably would end up resenting him.

ElenorRigby Wed 14-Oct-09 20:50:51

YANBU, what a load of toss!
FFS I saw a dad today unable to say a cross word to his brat 5yo who was talking to him like shit and tantruming all over the place. No doubt he will be wondering what the f went wrong his DD goes of the rails as a teenager.

FlamingoBingo Wed 14-Oct-09 20:57:35

YAB a bit U.

He's not saying you don't love them when you tell them off, he's not telling you never to lose your temper, he's telling you that your child may feel that your love is unconditional when you do things that make it look like you're withdrawing love when they misbehave.

E.g. they hit, you shout at them and put them away from you for a period of time. UP says you just tell them what they did wrong and make it clear you're not happy, but ensuring that they don't think that means you don't want to cuddle them or love them.

thisisyesterday Wed 14-Oct-09 21:01:56

well, maybe you need to read all the book?

AK does not say you should never tell them off or say no at all, in fact he explicitly says the opposite.
it;s not about NOT discliplining your children, it's about not making them feel that your love is conditional.

totally different thing

poshsinglemum Wed 14-Oct-09 21:05:13

Flamingo - I kind of see what you mean and I always give my dd a hug AFTER I have told her off but I think that it's entirely NATURAL to withdraw behaviour if someone wallops you! An unaffectionate/ violent gesture is met with an unaffectionate response. Cause and effect.
I think when it comes to school grades it is very important to emphasise that your child will be loved no matterw hat and alos your child will be loved when they behave badly but mabe it's ok to say
''When you hit me I don't feel like hugging you. I still love you but it makes me frightened to get close in case you do it again. When you hug me it makes me feel good and I want to hug you back.''?

stealthsquiggle Wed 14-Oct-09 21:06:50

TBH, my main issue with it is that is does little to equip children to deal with the 'real' world and specifically school. I am intruiged as to how devotees help their DC to come to terms with school because the only UP family I have direct experience of seem to have ended up with a fairly 'odd' 4yo who doesn't mix well with other children and is hitting the brick wall of school in a big way. Now whilst I am more than happy to concede that he might have been that way irrespective of parenting style, it doesn't seem (to me) to be helping.

FlamingoBingo Wed 14-Oct-09 21:10:32

It's natural, yes, but productive? It's all about what you want your DC to learn. Do you want him to learn that you only love him when he's good? That could make him even more insecure and feel the need to test your love even more. I've certainly experienced this with my own DDs.

Do you want him to learn that you don't hit because if you do you'll get told off and make Mummy angry?

Personally, I want my DDs to learn that I love them whatever they do (I'm not very good at this bit!) and not to hit (for instance) because it is just not ok to hurt other people.

Not sure if that makes sense.

My issue with a lot of these books is that they do tend to sound smug and are often over-Americanised but if you can embrace the cheesiness, and assume that the author has not always practiced what he preaches (which AK does actually admit to) but that he is just trying to explain the best practice to aim for, then it can be very, very helpful.

When you've finished it, for a real challenge, try this book - you'll think AK is a walk in the park after that grin

thisisyesterday Wed 14-Oct-09 21:10:46

well my 4.5 yr old is coping just fine with school and has made several friends, so it seems to be worki ng for us

he is perfectly accepting of the fact that things at school are different than at home.

he doesn't expect his teacher or his peers to love him unconditionally. he expects me to! and that's the whole point.

just because the world out there is big and bad and conditional, doesn't mean you ahve to be as well. in fact, i would say, it is even more important that you aren't.
in the whole world parents are the people that children want to please and love the most... the least we can do is show them that we love them unconditionally

FlamingoBingo Wed 14-Oct-09 21:13:21

Stealth, I know a lot of UP kids, and kids of parents who do 'consensual living' or 'non-coercive parenting' or 'taking children seriously' or whatever label you want to give it, and they're not wierd at all, just lovely and sensible.

I think it's very easy to misunderstand UP, and to 'get it wrong' - I do know that some parents see it as 'laissez-faire' parenting - let your child do what they want. But it's not about that at all. But if you think it is, and you tell people it's UP, then your kids may become unlikeable and may make people think UP isn't a good thing IYSWIM.

mololoko Wed 14-Oct-09 21:18:17

great post thisisyesterday

stealthsquiggle Wed 14-Oct-09 21:20:26

OK, maybe he's just a strange little boy then and it's nothing to do with UP or half-arsed attempt at same, but it was thrown into stark relief by my DC and other visiting DC instantly bonding and forming a little gang (even though they haven't really met each other before that they remember) and him not joining despite their best attempts to get him to, because he preferred to remain and monopolise all adult conversation and his mother's undivided attention hmm

God I sound like an antisocial 'children shall be seen and not heard' grump - I'm not, honestly.

poshsinglemum Wed 14-Oct-09 21:30:39

I want my dd to learn that it's not ok to hit because it hurts people physically and mentally and when people are hurt physically and mentally they do not usually respond with affection. Unless they are Jesus or ghandi.

poshsinglemum Wed 14-Oct-09 21:33:53

In other words I think taht when my daughter hurts me physically and emotionally which she is bound to on several occasions then I shall respond with love but also according to how I feel. That may be withdrawal not of love but of physical proximity!

FlamingoBingo Wed 14-Oct-09 21:38:01

Blimey, Stealth! My kids are nothing like that, thank goodness. I do know a few like that, but I don't think it has anything to do with UP.

Posh - what UP says, though, is that a young child can't really work that out for himself.

I have to say that I am frequently very crap at practising what I preach. But I try not to be and I do notice a stark difference in their behaviour when I 'get it right'.

With hitting, when I'm being 'good', I hold their hand firmly and tell them, firmly, that that is not acceptable.

poshsinglemum Wed 14-Oct-09 21:42:44

I guess that if it means being assertive then I agree with it. I just feel guilty becasue I snap at dd if I'm really tired. When I'm exasperated I just feel that up dosn't come naturally to me.

Broke Wed 14-Oct-09 21:46:40

God we all sat around in the playground today talking about how we'd like to knock their heads off their shoulders sometimes, but we still love them to the moon and back again. (Not in front of the DC's I should say).
I'd admire those who can be all smiles and praise all the time, it must be exhausting.

BertieBotts Wed 14-Oct-09 21:47:48

Yes but I think the point is not that you removing yourself/doing time out/punishing in other ways means you are not loving your child, obviously you still love them - but children think about things in more black and white terms and just to be aware that they might think that you don't love them because you punished them.

I think my mum was pretty much UP, she always apologised later if she had shouted at us etc and then made sure we understood why she had been angry - we had both calmed down by then (ie the child and her) so she would explain the issue again calmly and we would say "Yes, I see why it is not nice to leave a mess for others to clear up" or whatever, and we'd talk about how to solve the problem. She did stick by punishments though even if we were upset (grounding etc) and I definitely had a lot of respect for her because of that.

ElenorRigby Wed 14-Oct-09 22:18:10

I think it is good parenting to say sorry to a child when you are wrong and explain that mums, dads and other adults sometimes make mistakes.
FWIW I know that instinctively rather than through reading a book.

Maria2007 Thu 15-Oct-09 07:18:05

I'd like to ask those who believe in / practice UP: why is it not acceptable to hit (one of many examples)? When you say 'that's not acceptable' but don't show a completely natural response eg anger, hurt etc, how are the DC going to learn about other peoples' wide range of feelings? How will they learn about consequences eg we don't hurt other people because like us they hurt too, don't like it, get angry, upset etc? Unfortunately these feelings cannot easily be demonstrated just with words.

Also, it seems to me, unconditional love has nothing whatsoever to do with particular 'pleasant' behaviours. (Unless of course we're talking about unavailable, harsh, cold etc parents). IMO normal parents who love their children unconditionally can nevertheless have conditions as to behaviours that are acceptable or not in their home. Behaviour does not equal psychic availability & I think children know the difference.

Maria2007 Thu 15-Oct-09 07:20:05

I meant to say- & I hope that came through- how do you teach your children that hitting is unacceptable if you don't show displeasure / anger etc?

PoisonToadstool Thu 15-Oct-09 07:36:11

When my DS was a baby I would read threads about UP and think that it sounded like the approach I wanted to take.

But here I am, DS is 2 next week, I try hard not to raise my voice too much or shout (though do on occasion) but I just cannot believe now that a calm and simple 'no DS don't throw your wooden shape sorter at me, there's a love' without any outward indication whether vocal or physical that a) it bloody HURT and b) it is not on.

I don't expect him, aged 2, to listen to me much or remember what he is or isn't 'allowed' to do but I do expect that one day he will and you have to start somewhere, I can't just decide in a year that I am going to tell him that hurts, can I?

Bit garbled but very tired, if that makes sense? Would like a UP opinion and non-UP if anyone's reading.

FaintlyMacabre Thu 15-Oct-09 07:50:36

I may have got the wrong end of the stick (very likely, in fact) but I don't think it would be 'non-UP' to show hurt if you've just been hit by a shape-sorter. It does hurt, after all. How is he meant to understand that it hurts other people (and that is the reason not to throw it, not just because mummy says so) unless you tell him?

lljkk Thu 15-Oct-09 07:58:14

Oooh!! I must come back and read this properly later!

I have a lot of problems with UP, there are things I like about it, too. I strongly suspect that a pro-UP type person would see very few of the proscribed parenting methods in how I parent; but when I do resort to them, they are invaluable. Any philosophy that 100% prohibits large numbers of useful parenting tools is suspect, especially without telling you what to do instead, imho.

The whole premise that love from parents MUST be unconditional in all respects at every moment, I have trouble with that. There are moments when I will be disappointed with my children.

Some UP-proponents (am not thinking of anybody on MN) are obnoxious in the things they say about other styles of parenting, that puts me off their philosophy enormously.

Some people who SAY that they are UP, actually rely on conditions to back up things they want their DC to do: so they say that they never use threats or conditions, but if child doesn't do something expected then what's the repercussion? Always some privilege being deliberately withdrawn or another in-effect punishment. What a load of hypocrites!

A lot of UP relies on children getting internal satisfaction (eventually) from doing things right. But this may take WAY TOO LONG. Sometimes I need something done now (with cooperation from DC), not 4-10 years from now when DC finally mature enough to see the value of doing it the way I want.

Most UP-lovers have only very young children; funny how the ideals tend to fall by the wayside as kids get older (heehee).

I guess at the end that UP isn't meant to be an all-or-nothing philosophy, maybe it will work beautifully for me when my youngest is 16yo or so. I am still interested in Consensual Living but I need some practical examples (detailed anecdotes) of how it works.

ChairmumMiaow Thu 15-Oct-09 08:04:15

My understanding of it is that you're aiming for the calm approach - talking over issues and discussing effects of behaviour etc but AK did acknowledge that we're people too and we don't always manage to do things as we would like (just as our children don't). He also acknowledges that sometimes you need to take yourself away from the situation to stop yourself doing something you'd rather not!

While I have struggled with applying it to my 21mo DS, I do feel more relaxed about everything. For example, rather than telling him "that's naughty" etc when he hits (and he is really going through that phase) but to show him that he's upset people. It seems to be working as I know get a cuddle and a pat instead of another smack in the face

I set myself high goals because then when I fail I haven't normally fallen so far

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