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Unconditional parenting peeps - WWYD in this situation?

(224 Posts)
substitutemycokeforgin Mon 11-Feb-13 16:21:43

Or what would you have done, rather ... I know it's trivial in the scheme of things, but had a horrible situation with DD (7) yesterday. We were getting in the car to drive to a country park, she wouldn't put her wellies on as her siblings had done, but insisted on wearing her trainers. Recently she's been finding excuses not to wear her wellies, and wearing her trainers instead in all sorts of unsuitable muddy places and bringing them home a filthy wreck. I've had enough of this - she's not the one who has to clean them.

I said she could wear her trainers in the car but we needed to bring her wellies to wear in the park as it would be muddy. I don't think she really responded at this point, which was probably where the whole thing went wrong - I didn't get express agreement from her beforehand ... Anyway, cue arriving in the park, damp muddy day, and she refused point blank to put on the wellies. I explained that I wasn't prepared to wash muddy trainers yet again, shortening their life, when she has perfectly good wellies. We all wanted to get out of the car and into the park, including her, and I was urging her to think about it and do the right thing. I know she knew that by taking the wellies with us, that meant I expected her to wear them in the park. I tried to establish why she didn't want to wear them - made her legs uncomfortable, apparently, so I suggested getting long thick knee socks to avoid this, but she wouldn't agree to this either. In the end we turned round and drove home. I was calm with her and didn't shout, but made it clear what I expected her to do. But the day obviously didn't end well.

So I think I messed up, and I'm just looking for opinions/advice thrown into the ring here, really, on what I should have done instead without using bribes, punishments, rewards etc. Also, do you lovely UP people know of any dedicated forums for UP/AP parents? Thank you!! thanks

CheerfulYank Tue 12-Feb-13 15:35:08

First things first.

No, the Pope is not God in human form. I think he's a representative. (I'm not Catholic.) Fwiw I think it's good for someone who feels they're no longer up to the job to step down, so fair play to him.

OP I don't do UP but I think your best option would have been to leave her in the car. She still gets a choice that way, and if she wants to pout in the car like I might've at that age so be it. Or you could've made her scrub the trainers herself, or pay for new ones with her pocket money.

If my son forgot his coat (unsure why it'd be his Dad's fault unless DS is a toddler) I probably wouldn't make him wear the hated other coat but I would let him be cold until he got the previous coat back.

toddlerama Tue 12-Feb-13 16:02:15

Let her wear the trainers, wreck them, bin them. No more tennis ever. Or shoes.
This would be my (insane) approach, then I would obviously back down and no-one would learn anything other than mummy is a drama queen.

Sorry, that's totally unhelpful! I really admire UP in theory, but as someone said upthread, it seems (like communism) to rely on no-one ever being selfish or piss-taking, and we are flawed human beings.

Piemother Tue 12-Feb-13 16:08:11

But this is not UP. The consequence was that everyone missed out on the park. You imposed a condition that this would happen if she didn't comply. IMO what the debate was about us a secondary.
Also the thing about trainers being for tennis is too confusing. That's kind of not her problem.
Bit what so I know...I think a lot of Kohn doctrine is v questionable and I don't know any UP families who actually achieve it, they just think they do.

IneedAsockamnesty Tue 12-Feb-13 17:02:44

Sorry I got side tracked.

The clothes thing well if they decide this at home then fair enough they can choose what they wear, as long as there previous choices allow them to do so ( such as making sure stuff goes in the laundry basket in a timely fashion) if they decide this when out and about then the only available choices are keep there clothes on or get cold,

On school days if uniform is involved there are no available choices unless you wish to arrive at school and have to deal with there sanctions because our rules do not over ride those outside the home and its important that everybody understand this. This can be planned for by leaving slightly earlier and stashing a uniform just in case child leaves house in pants grin

With more than 1 child you attempt to always make sure that each child understands the ripple effect of there own actions sometimes you may have to highlight the various options available so they know and you always make it clear what your expectations are and remember rules are not banned just as the law is always there, its how they are expressed and dealt with that is important.

freddiemisagreatshag Tue 12-Feb-13 17:08:52

In the nicest possible way, Sock and the other UP on the thread, my head would explode if I had to think like that over a simple outing.

I really don't know how you do it.

grin (not a pa smilie genuinely my head would explode I'm not shouty particularly but I am firm)

IneedAsockamnesty Tue 12-Feb-13 17:22:10

Its not really diplomacy and its a damn sight less time consuming than listening to winging and nonsense,its just accounting for and preventing issues.( obviously you account for reasonable issues,age appropriate unreasonable issues need to be countered effectively)

I know I would much rather bung a plastic bag over each trainer with a quick "fair enough" then enjoy myself mucking around with the kids than put up with reactive negotiating in a car,sending a message to children who had made a considerate choice that their choice didnt matter then drive home again all missing out.

People often mistake UP for a lack of boundaries and discipline, its not its making sure everybody has the ability to set and manage boundaries and decent behaviour and using education as discipline.

All my children have been parented like this,I have adult children as well as teenagers and a baby and 99% of the time they are decent well behaved and not entitled they also respect authority.

HilaryClinton Tue 12-Feb-13 19:07:25

I agree that it all went pear shaped by having the trainers in the car. I've 3 and one if the getting ready techniques I use is to make it a joint responsibility for The Family to be ready.
I would have tried some Playful Parenting techniques to remove the trainers get on the wellies an would have acknowledged privately to her you knew putting on the willies was big for her and it was appreciated.
So far in my experience it has been possible to UP three, when one has to do something for the benefit only of others we acknowledge that , we ensure it happens and then we show appreciation e.g. by a big cuddle.
One phrase I use is that there are things I as the adult always have to take responsibility for that means it is up to me to ensure they go well so I have to do the choosing.

BertieBotts Tue 12-Feb-13 19:50:25

I don't do "true" UP but I try to follow the basic principles, which isn't about avoiding anything which looks like punishment - it's just saying that if you're going to impose some kind of consequence then make it be for a reason other than "so the child associates their bad behaviour with this thing they don't like" - that's the definition and purpose of a punishment.

So these examples:
- you did punish DD by leaving
They had to leave because she did not have the correct footwear (although letting the others play and her stay in the car would have worked too)

- you would punish her if you had made her clean shoes after getting them dirty
This serves the purpose of getting she shoes clean - someone has to do it - and also helps her realise why it's a problem if the shoes get dirty.

Zappo Tue 12-Feb-13 21:30:10

"Because of course that's exactly what happens in school all the time"

Seeker Obviously I don't believed that. It was a bit tongue in cheek. I know loads of teachers and have loads in my family. It wasn't a criticism of school but I'm just trying to work out why a 5 year old would talk about punching someone if they hadn't heard it somewhere like school or nursery. (we don't have any TV apart from a bit of cbeebies in the day, no violent computer games)

I mean there's a lot of playing superheroes and saying I'll kill you with my laser gun etc etc (when I see children playing) so I thought that the playground must be where that sort of language comes from. I actually don't think 5 year olds are threatening to take people's pocket money etc.

I'm generally curious about where that sort of aggression comes from. Perhaps it's just primal.

Scheherezade Tue 12-Feb-13 23:29:38

Ooh what a spoilt brat that girl is/will be.

No doubt her own personal theme tune is "don't care how, I want it now!" (From Willy Wonka).

IneedAsockamnesty Tue 12-Feb-13 23:50:50

The threads sort of moved on now, did you read it?

bryte Wed 13-Feb-13 07:48:31

Okay, so mature may not be an accurate way to describe any 3 year old but I meant she acted maturely, compared to most 3 year olds, not having tantrums or prolonged whinging sessions during a weekend where she was in a strange place, out of her usual routine.

I don’t agree that it is irresponsible to let a child go barefoot in the park. Her father obviously deemed it safe and it made climbing safer than wearing any type of footwear. She did walk to the park in shoes. There’s no need to be defensive, I was not advocating that good parenting = letting your child being barefoot wherever they want. But often we hold these default viewpoints without questioning what the big deal is. I tend to insist my children wear shoes/flip flops in the garden but ought not to since my children are old enough to understand the consequences of not wearing shoes i.e. having to wash their feet before they go to bed, potential to stand on a bee or something else that will hurt them.

When you’ve experienced authoritarian parenting yourself, it’s hard to get beyond insisting on such rules, but by at least aspiring towards UP or gentle discipline, it can encourage a parent to question themselves and establish which rules are being made logically. It helps you not sweat the small stuff. It helps you to act more respectfully towards your child, which in turn will help them act respectfully towards other people. UP is not the same as permissive parenting which raises demanding, spoilt people.

Tolly81 Wed 13-Feb-13 09:40:06

I'd also agree that leaving the park with all the children doesn't seem fair on the children who did do what was asked. It's commendable that you didn't lose your temper or shout but I think the response was reactionary and it probably confused dd to be allowed trainers in the car.
OP - you mentioned you spoke to your dd later about the incident. I'm interested though did you speak to the other DCs who did do what was asked? To specifically thank them again and let them know that you appreciate what they did? Did you ask dd to speak to them/say sorry (the last bit may not be in line with UP but it wouldn't seem a bad thing to suggest). If not then I think this might be something to consider next time (you talking to the other DCs that is). Talking to dd is obviously good for understanding the incident but in the eyes of her siblings she not only upset the day for the others but if she also got special attention with a one-to-one chat with you ending with a cuddle and a special new pair of shoes for her then I would have thought that that would be doubly upsetting for the other DCs (as one of 5 children I have to say I would as a child and probably even now at 32 have interpreted this as unfair or favouritism).
I know little about UP but I'm interested to know more. For those who do use it, did you read about it? Is there a book? It sounds from the posts from those who do use it successfully that it requires a fairly laid-back and go-with-the-flow approach, and requiring clean white trainers for tennis seems to be at odds with this. Why are clean trainers for tennis important anyway? Is it indoor tennis? Is it a rule of using the court? If not, then I don't really see why she couldn't play with dirty trainers (yes even if they were caked in mud as the dry clumps will fall off and after that what does it matter?). If it is a condition of using indoor courts then that is obviously different. Sorry OP I know this thread has turned into something of a Spanish Inquisition but would be interested in your thoughts.

Floggingmolly Wed 13-Feb-13 10:32:56

HilaryClinton. How is the acknowledging privately that you "appreciated" what a big deal it was for her to do as she's asked in line with the no praise / no punishment ethos of unconditional parenting?
Giving a big cuddle when all your child has done is follow an instruction sounds like pandering parenting to me, or have I misunderstood the fundamental concept?
It puts the child in charge; which some children find a very insecure place to be.

CheerfulYank Wed 13-Feb-13 11:04:28

How did the other children react? My brother would have slugged me been severely irritated.

cory Wed 13-Feb-13 12:17:35

Like others, I am concerned about a solution that relies on the compliant children having their interests overruled, or even having to endure endless delays while the parent is trying to work out a compromise with the obstructive child. I would certainly have resented that as a child with 3 siblings.

Fortunately my mother was rather good at the middle way between shouting and giving in: the brisk firm "well, you are going to put your wellies on, I don't care if you sulk, it's not fair on the others to make them late".

She was always good at making it clear why we were expected to comply, but we also knew that there were times- out sailing or changing trains in the middle of Europe- when you simply had to obey unquestioningly, because the time it would take to negotiate would be enough to capsize the boat or miss the only train of the day.

We accepted this, and we accepted the "you will put your coat on now so as not to make your brother late for his event" because we knew she would be happy to discuss things when time and energy allowed.

lljkk Wed 13-Feb-13 15:50:37

I felt sorry for the other DC but tbh they weren't all that bothered that we were going home,

That's when my other children would have wailed and formed almighty resentments against the child who made the outing abort. There would have been bitter angry squabbling about it the whole way home in the car (maybe ascending to violence). They'd be plotting how to get back at the annoying sibling for days maybe weeks afterwards. The whole thing would have exhausted me so much that I wouldn't have braved another outing to the park for a long while. If DC suggested it I would start throwing up objections: "Oh no, you'll get hungry" "You'll want different shoes" "You'll do X" "You won't like Y". I mean, who has the energy to anticipate & accommodate for it all? If they won't make half an effort I won't either.

If it had been my DD I would probably have allowed the other DC to bumble around the carpark until the DD agreed to wellies. Probably not UP but not a My-Will-Impose-On-All-Confrontation, either. Just proving I have more patience than them.

AllDirections Wed 13-Feb-13 19:20:28

Cory Your mother sounds fab smile

exoticfruits Wed 13-Feb-13 19:20:36

She was always good at making it clear why we were expected to comply, but we also knew that there were times- out sailing or changing trains in the middle of Europe- when you simply had to obey unquestioningly, because the time it would take to negotiate would be enough to capsize the boat or miss the only train of the day

I think there are times where you should expect your DC to comply, in that the adult knows what they are talking about. My DS was in a boat that capsized-out at sea -when he was 8yrs. He was in a very dangerous situation and his survival was helped by the fact that he shut down and did exactly as he was told to do-to the letter. You need some situations that are not up for negotiation and debate.

MoelFammau Wed 13-Feb-13 23:58:46

I hate wearing wellies, always have. It's a sensory thing, I'm a bit fussy about how things feel. So I discovered Bogboots - - which have a cheaper version here:<yp=AllFixedPriceItemTypes&var=sbar&adtype=pla&crdt=0.

And Muck boots for stable yards are good too.

I know she could be being contrary but wellies do have a really icky sensory problem and my feet were always cold and clammy too. So it really could be a comfort issue.

HilaryClinton Thu 14-Feb-13 20:39:18

FloggingMolly from re-reading my previous post I can see why anyone might think "Wet". But I think giving a child a cuddle is reassuring and not pandering at all - it is an explicit way of letting them know that even though they have "misbehaved" I will always give love and cuddles especially if it makes everyone's day more pleasant. I find that a cuddle/acknowledgement de-escalates situations so quickly so that there is no need for any sort of power struggle. It wouldn't cause tension for the others because they can have cuddles acknowledgement too whenever they want regardless of anything else that has just happened, just like water from the tap.
I've been reading the AIBu thread and find it so frustrating that every awful child equals UP. I've never met another UP parent and wouldn't discuss the book with anyone who I thought would be hostile to it (eg anyone that has a naughty step). I do think it is fair though that a child that get's consistent play date invites is doing OK- my kids get return invites. I know we're doing OK.
Also cory your grandma does sound fab. There are times when you have to do have to hurry but because I try not to be like that generally, the girls are so much more accepting on the few occasions and they know that I actually mean it. I also say "we will have to run" rather than an low level aggressive "get running"

cory Fri 15-Feb-13 08:26:25

I think there is some difference between families that do adventures- in which case you do sometimes need sudden decisions and obedience- and families that potter around in a safe environment all the time.

I had a very outdoors childhood- sailing, skating on lakes, swimming in the sea, inter-railing through Europe- which of course did require a slightly different approach from spending our leisure in child friendly restaurants and softplay. But I wouldn't be without those memories for anything.

exoticfruits Fri 15-Feb-13 12:12:23

I think that it generally agreed that children benefit from adventurous activities. If you are doing things like mine-e.g. rock climbing-you have to do as you are told (and not know you think better!)

cory Fri 15-Feb-13 20:22:05

I suppose when it comes to adventurous activities it helps to see that the adults have to follow the same rules: dad can't faff around either when the helmsman tells him to duck down or haul at the sheets. Adventures are a great equaliser.

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