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“We make fun of what used to be called ‘yes-men’ at the office, those deferential employees who never disagree with the boss, so what makes us think that ‘yes-children’ would be ideal?”  —Alfie Kohn Unconditional Parenting

It is my annual re-reading of my parenting manifesto.  I’ve been thinking about my long-term goals for Norah.  What characteristics are most important to shape?  And are my day-to-day actions mirroring these long-term goals?  Or am I simply trying to get by and create a child most convenient for the moment? 

My long-term goal is not obedience.  Nope.  Not at all.  I want an independent thinker.  One day, she’s going to be a teenager (excuse me while I scream!) and she’ll have all sorts of authoritative voices around her.  I certainly don’t want her obeying her creepy karate instructor when he asks her to stay after class and I definitely don’t want her obeying her peers when they ask her to try some new chemical candy.  I don’t want her to absorb everything her college professors tell her.  I want to teach my child to discern, to question, to weigh, and to decide for herself.  Ultimately, I pray she makes good decisions but it is important to me that she understands why she is making them.  And that is something I cannot force. 

So what does that look like in the day-to-day raising of an almost three year old?  Wooo.  Tricky.  And frustrating.  And time-consuming.  And hard.  And rewarding. 

And the icing on the cake–most of the research (both recent and dating all the way back to the 1950’s) shows me that the happy side-effect of this type of parenting is obedience.  By not punishing, rewarding, or controlling, I get a child who both thinks for herself and is more likely to obey me.  Score!

3 responses »

  1. Pingback: MePregnant

  2. Pingback: Parenting

  3. There was a bully mom repeatedly slapping her son’s hand on the way out of the goat farm yesterday, as we were on our way in. She screamed “YOU KNOW BETTER THAN THAT!” Well, apparently not, or he’d have known he was going to get smacked for it.

    Suzi’s pinching and biting has really tapered off. I think it was just a phase! I am glad we didn’t resort to hand-slapping when she was doing it, because Suzi’s kind of sensitive and would probably really be hurt by a thing like that.


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