"love" and logic

Today on my mom's blog she talked about discipline and her dislike of the "natural consequences"method. It reminded me of an experience I had in college.

I was taking a parenting class as part of my child development major. The course covered many different parenting approaches and schools of thought on the subject of child-rearing. I remember we were covering the "love and logic" approach one week. We watched a video of a seminar, A cheesy man giving scenarios and examples of the application of this method.

"So, Johnny wants to borrow the car," he says in his smooth salesy voice, "and you let him. Now Johnny gets home without filling up the tank. You'd agreed that he would fill up the tank, but he forgot. What DO you do?" He puts on a sad face and continues as if he is talking to Johnny. "Oh, Johnny. You forgot to fill up the tank. I'm SO sorry, because that means you won't be able to use the car for 2 weeks now. That's going to be rough. Man, I REALLY wish you had remembered to fill that tank."

Yuck. I had some major problems with this approach because the relationship seemed so contrived. It wasn't like the dad COULDN'T allow his son to use the car now. And it wasn't as if he were GENUINELY sorry about it.

So fast forward 2 days. I was a procrastinator in school. I got good grades, especially in my child development classes but I often put things off until the last minute. Well, in this parenting class I had to write a 1 page little paper on each section we covered, due at the beginning of class. I spaced it one day, and thought that if perhaps I brought it to my professor's office a few hours late, he might still accept it, just dock some points or something. It couldn't hurt to try. So that's what I did. I showed up at his office with the paper, explained that I had just forgotten to do it and asked if he accepted late papers.

The face he made was so familiar...where have I seen this expression before? Oh yeah, that LAME parenting seminar! "Oh, Natalie. I am SO sorry" the words oozing out with sappy disappointment. "Papers are due at the beginning of class. Oh, I'm sorry, I wish I could help you." His furrowed brows INFURIATED me. SO condescending! As if I don't know that if he REALLY wished to make an exception and help me out, he very well could.

I get that some teachers are strict on their policies, and I respect that. But don't pretend to care! Just so "Nope, sorry. I only accept papers on time." That I can respect.

I left his office fuming. And I'm not an angry person. I just hate (as does anyone) to be treated like I'm an idiot who doesn't see through such fake remorse. Oh, that man! That face!

And it really got me thinking about this method. Every time I read about someone raving about love and logic, I think of that face and I shudder. Kids aren't stupid and either way, do we really want to create a relationship with them that is based on fake understanding and feigned sympathy?

I say, if you're going to enforce a consequence, it's far better to just allow yourself to be the bad guy than the transparent "good guy" who's hand is "forced." And usually you can avoid both of these.

I know I haven't been a parent for that long, but being on the other side of this method, all I can say is yuck.

My mom, on the other hand, has been a parent for a long time and she is much more eloquent in her analysis. If you haven't yet, read it here.


  1. Oh I love your mother. I parented much the same way. So did my mother. But neither of us knew about that book. I'm fascinated now reading the 'whys' of parenting by the Golden Rule. I've often thought through the years....why was there no rebellion in our house growing up? Why did all 8 of us love and respect our parents growing up and never felt they were the enemy? I remember asking my Mom at least once why we were all so good basically...normal kids, but not near the problems I would see in other homes. She said we just came that way. Now all these years later I'm realizing she raised us by the Golden Rule. She really did, but I never thought of it that way until your Mom's blog!

  2. This was a good post. I liked it. And I liked having my question answered on Jane's blog!

  3. I completely agree! I never liked the "contrived" empathy approach either... I say that I use "natural" or "logical" consequences, but in my mind it's much like how you described (and Jane as well - I LOVE that post) - meaning I try to help my kids find a way to remedy the situation rather than just punish them. Thank you for the thoughtful analysis, and for sharing your mom's blog! I can't believe I haven't clicked on it until now!


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