Parenting with Love and Logic was written by Foster Cline and Jim Fay. Love and Logic parenting is basically a process by which children grow through their mistakes and learn from the consequences of their choices. The authors claim that if we can teach our kids responsibility, we’ve accomplished much of our parental task.
You can buy the book here or download it on Audible and listen to it. They also have a teen version. I downloaded it on Audible and listened during my commute to work and back. I love listening to books in the car or on a train. It is an effective use of time wasted in traffic. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. This means that if you purchase anything, I earn a commission on your purchase but it doesn’t cost you anything.
The 4 styles of parenting
The book starts with a description of the four styles of parenting:
The Helicopter Parent
This kind of parent hovers over children like a helicopter ready to rescue and protect them when needed. This sends them a message they are fragile and can’t make it in life without the parent.
The Drill Sergeant Parent
This kind of parent tells their child what to do OR ELSE!! This sends them a message they are not capable of making their own decisions. Kids who have parents who make all decisions for them don’t learn how to make their own decisions later on in life.
The Laissez-Faire Parent
This kind of parent allows kids to raise themselves. Some believe they should be the child’s best friend. Others feel guilty for working and spoil the child.
The Consultant Parent
This kind of parent asks questions and offers choices but ultimately lets the child make the decision. The parent lets the child make mistakes to learn from them while the price tag is affordable. This is the best style of parenting according to the book.
The Love and Logic Method
The basic principle is that adults must set firm loving limits using enforceable statements without showing anger or using threats. The idea is that children understand that they are responsible for their actions and they learn via consequences and not via the parents nagging or lectures.
Parents don’t tell their children what to do, instead, they offer choices by asking their children questions. The child is responsible for making a decision and learns from the consequences if a bad decision is made. Even when the child makes a bad choice you don’t interfere but rather stand back and let him learn from experience. For example, if you are going outside and it is cold you don’t say “take a coat” but rather “Do you want to go outside with or without your coat”. If the child goes outside without the coat you let him and when he does, he learns that that wasn’t a wise decision. The problem is that the parents must make sure that they are prepared to enforce whatever choices they give. If the child is cold, you don’t go back home to get a coat. I don’t think that I could go through with that. It takes guts and it might be the right thing to do but I don’t think I could do it. The book gives similar examples when children don’t eat during mealtimes. They are given a choice to eat their food at dinner or wait until breakfast. Even if they cry that they are hungry between dinner and breakfast you are not supposed to give them food. I have been in this situation more than once and I couldn’t bring myself to let my child go hungry. You cannot threaten that you will enforce something if you are not prepared to go through with it so if you know that you don’t have the guts then don’t offer that choice.
The underlying principle is that if your children learn how to make decisions on their own when the price tag is affordable then they will know how to do it when they are teens and the price tag is expensive.
When the child makes a bad decision the parent shows empathy through sadness and then lovingly hands the problem and its consequences back to the child. The parent is supposed to allow the natural consequences to teach the child. They should show no anger or frustration just empathy. The authors state that only the consequences will teach a child to make better decisions in life.
When you need to talk to a child about their behavior, do it when you are very calm. You can ask them to come up with possible solutions for what should happen if such misbehavior should occur again in the future. If necessary, you can delay the consequences. This gives you time to think and allows you the chance to consult if necessary. It also gives the child time to think.
When your child is dealing with the consequences, don’t get into an argument. Carry on with whatever you are doing to show that your life goes on and you are not worried. The authors do give some one-liners that you can use in certain situations when your child is trying to argue. For example:
- “I love you too much to argue.”
- “It probably seems that way to you.”
- “Hope you get over that feeling. Love you lots.”
How to Apply the Love and Logic Method
Don’t tell children what to do, instead offer them choices. You must be prepared to enforce or allow both choices.
If children don’t choose the best option, do not get angry or frustrated. See this as a learning opportunity. Calmly enforce the chosen option.
The child will learn from the consequences. The consequences come from the child’s decision, not the parents so the child will not be resentful according to the authors.
Consequences Versus Punishment
The authors claim that consequences expressed with empathy will turn the consequences into a learning experience. The problem becomes the bad guy and not the parent. On the other hand, when a parent uses punishment, the child focuses only on the parents and how unfair they are. They don’t think about the problem at all.
Another example given in the book is as follows. If your children miss the school bus you don’t take them to school but rather they have to stay home and not interfere until they would usually come home. If you need to run errands you get a babysitter at the child’s expense. The next day you don’t give them a note for school as they were not sick. Instead, they have to accept the consequences of missing school. I could not relate to this example. Firstly, getting your child to pay for a sitter from his allowance seems a lot like punishment to me. Secondly, my kids would miss the bus often 😊
You cannot control your children
You cannot make them eat, but you can control what happens if they don’t eat. I must admit that I had a problem with the examples relating to food given in the book. Firstly, I could not let my children go hungry even if I understand that it is a good learning experience. Secondly, I think that forcing a child to eat at set times and making them wait until the next meal if they don’t can cause other problems in the future. I think that we should teach children to recognize hunger cues and eat when they are hungry and not when you are hungry. It is disruptive if they don’t eat when we want them to and meal times might need to change as a result but I do believe that making your child go hungry until breakfast because she wasn’t hungry at dinner is not the choice that I will make.
Will I implement the Love and Logic Method?
I have partially implemented the Love and Logic technique and it was still effective. In cases where I know that I will not be able to let my child learn from the consequences, I do not offer that option as a choice.
I know that I can’t implement the system entirely (you might be able to) but I do use some of the principles and tips that are given in the book and I have found them to be extremely successful.
For example, a week ago, I received a call from my 9-year-old son’s school. He had jumped in a puddle during recess and was wet from head to toe. They asked me to come in and bring him a dry set of clothes. I guess that a Love and Logic parent would have explained to the secretary that the child would learn the hard way not to jump in puddles again. I chose to go to school and bring him dry clothes. I explained to him what an inconvenience it was, and that I expected it to never happen again. He apologized and told me that he will be more careful next time. I couldn’t go through with the Love and Logic method. I guess only time will tell if my method was equally effective.
In other cases, where the price tag was more affordable I went through with it and my kids learned lessons that I know were more beneficial than they would have been had I taught them.
I think that the book was very interesting and definitely worth reading.