Parenting Away from a Conflict of Wills

Growing up, my parents followed the child rearing teachings of Michael Pearl. The basic idea is to view childrearing as a conflict of wills between parent and child---a conflict the parent must win. Pearl advises parents to break their children's wills early, to show them who's boss. Today, I have two children of my own, and I don't parent this way---at all. Instead, I use a different framework, one that is cooperative and centers communication and compromise. These frameworks matter, because t … [Read more...]


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When Punitive Childrearing Creates Deceptive Children

I recently came upon a headline declaring that "Stricter Parents Are Turning Their Children into Effective Liars." Curious, I clicked through. As the article explains: According to research by Victoria Talwar, a renowned expert on children’s social-cognitive development at McGill University, strict parenting tends to result in offspring that really know how to deceive. By producing an atmosphere of inevitable punishment for any wrongdoing, the children of these parents learn how to lie in order … [Read more...]


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The Listening Parent (and the Thinking Child)

I was going to post something about politics today, but then I realized that there is way too much about politics out there right now, and that politics is a dark and unhappy place. So instead, I'm going to write about parenting.Last night I was watching Supergirl with my four-year-old son, Bobby, when he asked for a cup of milk. We were watching the show in the basement and had only just gotten all settled and started the show. I didn't really want to go upstairs to the kitchen, or to … [Read more...]


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Gender, Gender, Everywhere

I was recently at an appointment in a medical office with my preschool son, Bobby. As he is sometimes want to do, Bobby was wearing a dress. The dress was flowered, with a wide skirt that swirls out when he twirls. He usually wears pants or shorts, but he loves dress-up and has a small collection of dresses of his own, and I figure, if girls can wear pants as well as skirts, why shouldn't boys be allowed to wear skirts if they so desire? It wasn't his appointment and we hadn't been there before, … [Read more...]


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Kids These Days . . . Are Actually Okay

I'm sure you're no stranger to people complaining about today's young people. They're addicted to technology, glued to their cell phones, unable to function in the real world. They're selfish and entitled, they want everything handed to them on a plate. They don't know what it is to work hard, they haven't been properly disciplined. Our nation is in serious trouble. Or at least, so the narrative goes.I recently noticed this narrative on display in a Facebook meme:Text is: R.I.P. A … [Read more...]


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Sally Sets Boundaries

One day not long ago, I was under a very large amount of stress. I had to clean the house and pack the car and get the kids and myself underway by a specific time, all on my own, without my partner there to help. My children weren't being very helpful, either---both were upstairs on the computer---but then I'd been so busy I hadn't really taken the time to get face-t0-face with them and explain what was going on. Not stopping for a few minutes to communicate directly with them was obviously a m … [Read more...]


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“She seems to have turned out pretty well!”

It happened so quickly, so naturally, and yet I can't get it out of my mind. At a graduation party earlier this month I ran into the mother of two homeschooled girls I tutored when I was in high school, homeschooled myself. "You were a great teacher for my kids," she told me. "You were very strict with them and they needed that." And I cringed, because I am not the authoritarian person I was in high school. And was that really what she remembered about my time tutoring? What about all the times I … [Read more...]


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