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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!