Many people read my column on Dr. Leonard Sax’s book “The Collapse of Parenting.” In it Sax wanted us to step up, be the parents, and stop negotiating with the terrorists that are our children. He said part of the problem is that some parenting expert told parents they should always offer their children choices instead of telling them what to do and parents believed them, he says.
Sax told us parents’ job is to teach kids right from wrong, teach kids the meaning of life and keep their children safe.
“In doing that job, you’re going to do a lot of things a child won’t approve of and not understand,” he says. You have to be the bad guy.
Two new books come about parenting in an opposite direction. “Positive Parenting: Ending the Power Struggles and Reconnecting from the Heart,” by Rebecca Eanes ($15, TarcherPerigee) comes out in June. Eanes tells us that the five principles of positive parenting is attachment, respect, proactive parenting, empathetic leadership and positive discipline.
She has readers go through their own childhood and how they work with their partners. Then she tells us how to build a trust relationship with our children at different stages of their lives and how to create a family culture. She also explains how to put positive parenting to work during life’s challenges such as tantrums, not listening and whining. The idea is that if you remain positive and build this relationship with your child, you won’t need to enact punishments. That doesn’t mean there are no rules in positive parenting. There are, but it’s your child’s ability to feel part of the family, part of the community that will help them follow the rules, or so the Positive Parenting theory goes.
“Raising Human Beings: Creating a Collaborative Partnership with Your Child,” by Ross W. Greene ($26, Scribner) doesn’t come out until August. Greene’s theory is that conflicts between children and parents are about how they solve problems. He gives three solutions: Plan A, the parent solves the problem and delivers the solution; Plan B, the parent and the child work out a solution collaboratively; and Plan C, the parent set aside coming up with a solution for now.
Greene would like us all to be using Plan B. This doesn’t mean that you aren’t giving guidance. In fact the steps are: 1. Being empathetic to gather information from your child about his or her perspective. 2. Communicate your concerns. 3. Discuss with your child a possible solution that is realistic and that you both can agree on.
Greene then goes through different scenarios and traps that parents can fall into that end up in not creating the most collaborative relationship. And the great thing about this book, is he goes age-by-age, knowing that collaborating with a toddler is very different than collaborating with a teen — at least, in theory.