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 firstname.lastname@example.org.