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Friday, January 23, 2009

Love and Logic- A Parental Oxymoron?

Last week, I began a parenting class called Love and Logic developed by Jim Fay and his son Charles Fay, PhD. And Dr. Foster Cline. The course is a seven week deal and in week one I have already found a few things to think about and at least one tool to put in my parenting tool bag. Many of you that know me (or read my column regularly) know that I have four kids and that they are, as of my writing this, 18, 15, and 14 year old twins.

As such, you may be asking yourself why am I taking this class when, for the most part, the die has been cast when it comes to the raising of my kids. First, I argue that you never know what I may learn to help me with putting the finishing touches on the successful, well adjusted adults I hope to turn loose on society in the next couple of years. Second, I will have grandkids one day, hopefully not in the next decade as everyone still has college and graduate school yet, but one day I will become a parenting coach to my kids and I wish to be a good one. Last, but still very important to me, are you my gentle reader to whom I hope to provide valuable, friendly help in your own families.

The class consists of video and written materials that are professionally done by The Love and Logic Institute, and classroom discussion provided by our facilitator, a counselor in the school district my wife works for and the kids attend school. One of the biggest advantages of this program is that corporal punishment, in fact punishment of any kind, is not necessary. Natural consequences are used to teach life lessons while the consequences are small.

For example, the child learns thrift by earning money doing chores in the home and then spending that money with very few limits from the parent. The parent actually hopes for failure, such as the child buying a cheaply made toy that breaks easily. The parent then provides empathetic love, not a lecture, and the child figures out for themselves that squandering a hard earned few dollars on a cheap plastic toy is not something they should do very often. Learning such a lesson with a toy that costs five bucks is far better than buying a first car for too much when that car has a great stereo and a bad motor.

Kids do not come with instructions, or if they do my manual was left out of the packaging… all four times! In addition, parenting changes as society changes; both in terms of challenges and in the definition of success. This means parents should constantly be on the lookout for good ideas and learning from parents who have been successful. While I am not convinced this class will solve all parenting challenges, and I still have a few questions left to be answered, the class has already proven to be helpful and I encourage you to find one in the Conroe or Montgomery County area. The program is popular and you should have little trouble finding one to fit your schedule.

Mark Altman is a speaker and leadership consultant with the Altman Leadership Center. He has graduate work in Marriage and Family Counseling and is the author of Leadership For All the Mountains You Climb. He can be reached at

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Since when are consequences, natural or otherwise, NOT punishment?

And isn't it a problems when parents start to hope their children fail, or find glee in their failure?

Some parents using Love and Logic will even set up their children to fail. The idea is that failure for a child is less painful than failure as an adult. If anything, failure as a child can be more traumatic. The problem is that Love and Logic is all oriented towards making the parent happy. That's who buys the books and 7-week courses.

Love and Logic has a lot of problems, yet parents are so inexplicably uncritical of this unresearched program. (It's getting the same uncritical acceptance the D.A.R.E. program did before it was found out, through research, to INCREASE drug use.)

Love and Logic suggests highly controlling, distant, unresponsive, and potentially abusive parenting methods. Parents are taught to go "brain dead" in response to their children and repeat relentlessly snide "one-liners" such as “It must be a bummer having a parent who doesn’t care" and "Nice try." Imagine your child learning to use these one-liners on you or others! ("You want a different nursing home, dad? Nice Try.") Love and Logic also gives out inaccurate information about child development. For example, Love and Logic suggests parents consequence infants who drop food from the highchair because they are being defiant, when this is really just part of how infants learn about the world.

Foster Cline, the co-inventor of Love and Logic, also invented the most sadistic psychotherapy for children -- Rage Reduction -- a practice he still defends, but was told to stop by the Colorado Board of Medical Examiners.