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What is unconditional parenting?


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#1 Bobbypoppa

Posted 21 February 2013 - 04:38 PM

I was lightly chatting today about our respective children with one of the women I work with and she told me that she uses this parenting technique.

Granted my children are now young adults and I have never heard of this before. Does this mean you love your children unconditionally, (because I do). Or is it a new  parenting approach? I didn't ask her for in-depth details because I felt like a real twit not knowing what she meant and just smiled and nodded with her? So please EB, what is it? I don't have time to Google.

#2 becstar101

Posted 21 February 2013 - 04:43 PM

No idea.

No time to google but enough time to write that whole post?


#3 FeralLIfeHacker

Posted 21 February 2013 - 04:45 PM

[quote name='becstar101' date='21/02/2013, 05:43 PM' post='15346598

No time to google but enough time to write that whole post?
[/quote]

laugh.gif

No idea either.  Is it like unschooling, attachment parenting - I swear there didn't used to be all these names for parents, you just looked after your kids!

arrgh feeling like an old fuddy duddy now ssorry.gif

#4 Wineandchocolate

Posted 21 February 2013 - 04:48 PM

I have time to Google biggrin.gif

http://rainbowrecognizer.hubpages.com/hub/...ional-Parenting

#5 mmuc83

Posted 21 February 2013 - 04:49 PM

http://www.alfiekohn.org/up/index.html might be a starting point..

i've never heard of it either ...

#6 I'msoMerry

Posted 21 February 2013 - 04:58 PM

Don't be Rigid - Wave the rules. Be flexible. Respond differently to different children and situations, understanding the context. Predictability is good, but don't make a fetish of it. United front is dishonest - more useful for kids to see we disagree and can talk it out.



This from the link seems to be the opposite from what most experts teach. I would think you would end up with confused and unruly children.

#7 Orangedrops

Posted 21 February 2013 - 05:00 PM

It is about parenting your children with respect essentially, not having adult expectations for them but at the same time not treating them arbitrarily just because they don't have adult abilities. Alfie Kohn is the guy who came up with it, he is an incredible thinker from my perspective.

It's hard to explain in a snap shot or to give specific examples but for instance we don't punish at all, we don't take things away, or do time out nor do we tell our children they are naughty or bad, we talk about behaviours, how they effect others and why it is important to care about others, be responsible etc.

My children aren't perfect but they are pretty well behaved, most importantly to me they are secure in our love for them and they love and care for us and each other. Their character is more important than their behaviour anyway. They are taught empathy by example rather than being forced into rigid acceptable behaviours. My husband and I try to examine why we want our kids to do particular things if they don't want to and be flexible when we can. Children are people too.

Edited by Orangedrops, 21 February 2013 - 05:04 PM.


#8 ~Supernova~

Posted 21 February 2013 - 05:06 PM

Nvm, I'm not up for an argument atm lol.


Edited by Mareek, 21 February 2013 - 05:07 PM.


#9 cad0

Posted 21 February 2013 - 05:53 PM

Ooooh I'm relating to a lot of this and didn't even know there was a name for what I was doing!


QUOTE (Orangedrops @ 21/02/2013, 05:00 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
we tell our children they are naughty or bad, we talk about behaviours, how they effect others and why it is important to care about others, be responsible etc.


I think it works so well for us because they're afraid otherwise we'll start spouting this stuff at them yet again wink.gif


#10 Angelot

Posted 21 February 2013 - 06:01 PM

It's funny how people react differently.  I read a link, recoiled and went, "Nup, not for me in a million years!"  Particularly that stuff about abandoning a united front - DH and I are a team, and we parent as a team (or try to).  We're not going to have different standards for mum and dad.  Nor are we going to tolerate bad behaviour.

#11 Angelot

Posted 21 February 2013 - 06:55 PM

I appreciate the explanation, but I still can't come at it.

My child is not my equal, and I won't treat her as such.  Her father and I hold authority, and I'm not going to hand it to someone unprepared for it.  I mean, it's a small example, but if DD had her way she'd never nap, but I know she needs to so I put up with the struggling and the yelling and settle her.  She's not ready to make decisions, and although as she grows her scope will grow with her, I'm not going to pretend she's got adult capacity to understand or make decisions.

The idea of a child having an advocate when being disciplined - way to be undermined, and to be confusing.  If a child has done the wrong thing, that needs to be absolutely clear, not to have someone on their side.  Sometimes feelings are inappropriate, and children need to learn that.

That's my instinctive response, anyway.  This looks like parents wanting to treat their kids as equals and abdicate authority.  I find it frightening and dangerous and really I feel almost angry at it.  



#12 Bobsygirls

Posted 21 February 2013 - 07:06 PM

What a complete over reaction, in no way does unconditional parenting advocate giving children responsibilities they are not ready for or allowing them to do whatever they want, it is about respecting that they are individuals with feelings and respecting those feelings and not being arbitrarily authoritarian.

I would suggest when a child has done something wrong it is particularly important for them to have someone on their side, not they should be told that what they did was ok but having someone to talk to about what they can do to make it better and show them they are loved regardless.

#13 Bobsygirls

Posted 21 February 2013 - 07:07 PM

Dp

Edited by Bobsygirls, 21 February 2013 - 07:08 PM.


#14 Angelot

Posted 21 February 2013 - 07:11 PM

QUOTE (Bobsygirls @ 21/02/2013, 08:06 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I would suggest when a child has done something wrong it is particularly important for them to have someone on their side, not they should be told that what they did was ok but having someone to talk to about what they can do to make it better and show them they are loved regardless.


I don't disagree, but I don't see how having parents play good-cop bad-cop helps with this.  Good exercise of authority in discipline should be about reform, and kids should know they are loved.  But I think the united front is necessary to send the unequivocal message that whatever they did, was wrong!

#15 *LucyE*

Posted 21 February 2013 - 07:15 PM

I agree with what Madam Protart said.

For me, it is about treating my children as individual human beings and not my subordinates.  As an adult, I am more capable than them.  As their parent, I am responsible for teaching and guiding them to be independent human beings.  Unconditional parenting, to me is about loving them without conditions.  Be it their behaviour, their school work, their willingness to obey or their ability as a performing monkey.

Using the nap example, I don't make them have a nap because I'm an adult, bigger and stronger.  I make them have a nap because it is the right thing for them to do at that time.  It may seem like only semantics, but I use it to question myself when I get to hairier situations.

As for the united front issue, I had to encourage DH to challenge me if he thought I was wrong.  I admit to sometimes flying off the handle and responding out of proportion.  It is important that the children learn the difference between right and wrong and not just to obey what a person of authority says.  I want them to challenge and question us in a respectful way.  I think that is much healthier than to use subterfuge and learn to present a demure front but to be dishonest.  

The main point is to treat everyone respectfully regardless of their age, gender or any other attribute.  We are all human beings and part of this family.

#16 *LucyE*

Posted 21 February 2013 - 07:19 PM

QUOTE
but I don't see how having parents play good-cop bad-cop helps with this.

We don't play good cop, bad cop.  We only step in if the other parent is being unreasonable.  And I admit that sometimes when under stress, we do go a bit overboard.

When we intervene, we always do it respectfully without undermining the other person.  By doing this, we are modeling a healthy, adult approach to negotiations.  It's not authoritarian or dictator like.

#17 Bobsygirls

Posted 21 February 2013 - 07:21 PM

It's not about playing good cop bad cop more about if one parent sees the other parent reacting poorly to an issue, ie loosing control, over reacting, being irrational or unreasonable that they step in and diffuse the situation, talk to their partner so the issue can be dealt with reasonably. For example when my oldest daughter dawdles when getting ready in the morning it really pushes my buttons, something about it really irritates me and because of that it can lead me to overreact and get irrationally angry which can sometimes lead to yelling which first of all isn't fair, no one deserves to be screamed at even if they are bing particularly irritating, and second of all could teach my daughter that it is ok to yell and scream at people when they don't do what you want them to. If my partner notices my rising frustration he might step in and say something like" DD your Mum really needs to get you and your siblings to school, it is really important for you to get ready quickly now or you will all be late, Mum is getting frustrated because she doesn't t want you to miss school. Could you help your Mum by hurrying up".

Situation diffused, I feel acknowledge and it helps break that circuit of me getting irrationally angry. DD is more likely to hurry up, not guaranteed but at least we won't get into a yelling match that will just waste more time anyway. Plus my relationship with my daughter and our relationship as a family is really more important than getting to school on time that day anyway.

Edited by Bobsygirls, 21 February 2013 - 07:23 PM.


#18 Angelot

Posted 21 February 2013 - 07:28 PM

I still don't agree, and I'd love to keep exploring it, but I think I have to bow out because this has hit a nerve for me somehow and I am really incredibly upset.

#19 Feral-chillibean

Posted 21 February 2013 - 07:42 PM

Is it the same as "guidance discipline"?

"Isn't setting limits just having the courage to say No and enforce it?"    Yes.  But setting limits with empathy means that you:

    Start with a strong, supportive connection with your child so he knows you're on his side.
    See it from his point of view and offer genuine empathy that he can feel, while setting the limit.
    Resist the temptation to be punitive in any way.  Setting the limit teaches the lesson. Anything more backfires.
    See his life from his point of view and only set the limits you really need to set, so that his life is more about connection and discovery than about limits and frustration.  Saying No too often undermines your relationship."

The above comes from http://www.ahaparenting.com/

I try to guide, not yell.  I try to set realistic expectations and limits and give age appropriate choices and freedom.

I'm not much good at it and often slip back into "authoritarian" style but it's not my ideal style...

#20 Feralishous

Posted 21 February 2013 - 07:54 PM

QUOTE (*LucyE* @ 21/02/2013, 05:15 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I agree with what Madam Protart said.

For me, it is about treating my children as individual human beings and not my subordinates.  As an adult, I am more capable than them.  As their parent, I am responsible for teaching and guiding them to be independent human beings.  Unconditional parenting, to me is about loving them without conditions.  Be it their behaviour, their school work, their willingness to obey or their ability as a performing monkey.

Using the nap example, I don't make them have a nap because I'm an adult, bigger and stronger.  I make them have a nap because it is the right thing for them to do at that time.  It may seem like only semantics, but I use it to question myself when I get to hairier situations.

As for the united front issue, I had to encourage DH to challenge me if he thought I was wrong.  I admit to sometimes flying off the handle and responding out of proportion.  It is important that the children learn the difference between right and wrong and not just to obey what a person of authority says.  I want them to challenge and question us in a respectful way.  I think that is much healthier than to use subterfuge and learn to present a demure front but to be dishonest.  

The main point is to treat everyone respectfully regardless of their age, gender or any other attribute.  We are all human beings and part of this family.

I agree. this is how we try to parent, though I didnt know there was a name for it. Partly as this is our personalities, partly because we have very spirited children, and Ive learnt that it really doesnt matter  if they 'win' part of the time.
Arguing about if they are going to use the red plate or the green plate is just a waste of time and energy

#21 AngryBird

Posted 21 February 2013 - 08:23 PM

This is pretty much how I parent, although I didn't know it was called  "unconditional parenting". We're somewhat new to the approach although it's always reflected how I've instinctively treated my children - as individual human beings.

I am much much more interested in my children choosing the "right thing" because they know and believe it to BE "the right thing", than I am in them complying because they fear the consequences of doing otherwise.

We're all about the children - and the adults - treating others with love and respect because they choose to, and because they want to be considerate.
It requires a lot of patience and going over the same situation and regrettable choices many many times sometimes!

Edited by AfroCircus, 21 February 2013 - 08:27 PM.


#22 Taystee

Posted 21 February 2013 - 08:26 PM

I think I respect my daughter as a person but only to a certain extent. As an 18 month old, she would choose to eat cheese 10 times a day, play with the medicine drawer and never go to sleep until she literally dropped.

So her decision making is poor, generally. I support her to make decisions by giving her an option between 2 things. When she does something I don't like- generally something dangerous or destructive or wasteful- I will reprimand her briefly- No sweetie, we don't do that and then redirect her to either fixing the situation together or to another fun task.

I think talking to children at length about the reason for various decisions etc is a) boring for them b) unlikely to stick c) leaves too much room for negotiation and discussion!

I get where unconditional parenting is but I suspect those of you who say you do it are throwing in a good dose of common sense too original.gif

ETS: Sorry, I actually totally always respect my daughter as a person but NOT always her decisions! I have the manflu, forgive me.

Edited by Stan the Fan Man, 21 February 2013 - 08:33 PM.


#23 lucky 2

Posted 21 February 2013 - 08:34 PM

Thank you for posting this OP, I knew I had a book sitting around somewhere that I needed to read!
I found it, it was beside my bed ddoh.gif , a copy of "Unconditional Parenting- Moving from Rewards and Punishment to Love and Reason" but Alfie Kohn.
This resonates strongly with me as something worth pursuing, I'm just pretty hopeless at finishing books.

eta, and thanks to the EB member who quietly suggested it:) .

#24 treetree

Posted 21 February 2013 - 11:40 PM

QUOTE
I still don't agree, and I'd love to keep exploring it, but I think I have to bow out because this has hit a nerve for me somehow and I am really incredibly upset.
Don't stress about it. You are not alone. I tend to agree with your posts in this thread.

In my opinion, children don't have the same decision making rights as the adults in the house. We've done our growing and a lot more learning than they have. We make the rules, they follow the rules.

I think too much 'treating children as equals' is leading to the old Being Your Child's Friend Instead of Parent issue. It doesn't work. It really doesn't. We are raising adults, they are just quite small now. But when they grow I want to them to act as responsible, sensible adults who realise that they don't always get to decide how things go, that sometimes things are absolutely not fair. I want them to be able to handle this without stress, or a sense of entitlement. Sometimes, or even a lot of the time, you just have to do things you don't want to do, even if the reason is not clearly explained while also taking account of your personal feelings. That IS life, and it's what we need to prepare them for.

Of course that doesn't take away unconditional love. My kids are well aware of that. They know that no matter how badly they might stuff up, there will be no rejection from us. We will have their backs. It's just that having their backs might mean grounding them against their wishes, or confiscating an expensive toy. Whatever fits the bad behaviour of the time, just like the real adult world.

#25 cad0

Posted 22 February 2013 - 07:58 AM

In our case, I see it more as we have rules and behavioral expectations in our house, and DH and I are strict on those but we are open to nicely discussing flexibilities on those rules with our kids as and when they want to - e.g., if a kid comes to us and says 'can I stay up late tonight', we don't just loudly say NO THESE ARE THE RULES without even hearing them out. Maybe they've got a good reason and just because they're kids it doesn't mean we shouldn't hear those reasons, or consider their validity from a kid's POV ...
I've never shouted and 'Because I said so' is a phrase I never use. If I tell a kid something, I always have a good reason for it. I'm shocked sometimes by how rudely/whiny some parents talk to their kids. Then the kid ignores the parent anyway, and the parent just lets them. Hopeless. You can be in charge without treating subordinates like dirt. Show some respect and you'll get respect back.
If a child behaves in a way other than how we expect, we don't shout at them and put them in their room, we're sympathetic to how they feel, why they're behaving that way, find out why, how we can help them, explain why it works better for everyone (them as well as us) that they behave in the expected ways, if necessary find a solution that works for everyone blah blah blah. Tantrums aren't tolerated as we don't negotiate with terrorists but if everyone communicates properly, everyone gets a happy outcome. It does take patience but DH and I are pretty calm people, and so are the kids so that's probably why it works for us. We rarely have to have these talks, because we set the boundaries very early on.
So we're still the parents, we're still strict, but we're not d***s about it, basically original.gif
We don't play good cop, bad cop. We do show a united front in that we basically agree on how our family works, but the flexibility there could be, as in the above 'can I stay up late' example, we can have a brief discussion about how the other parent feels about that, are there any factors the other parent may not have thought about before they decide etc. It's always a brief conversation, so the kid doesn't get their hopes up too much! original.gif I think it's a good thing because it models collaboration, making decisions together, considering other people's thoughts, working through a problem etc

Oops, novel sorry!





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