Monday, April 26, 2010

Discussing "Different" Parenting Views?

The Question:

Hi, Jane. 

I'm just wondering how you handled having "different" parenting views than those around you.  Family size, discipline, preschool, babies...  I think I'm a pretty tuned-in parent, but I have been more mainstream in some respects.  But as I read your blog, and a couple others, it opens my eyes, and I want to change.  And it all feels so right.  And I get excited, tell my husband, begin implementing.  And then I go to Enrichment (or Activities whatever it's called now).  Anyway, everyone there agrees that there is "a world of difference between kids who go to preschool and those who don't."  And all the areas could be hit, I think.  Do you just keep your mouth shut?  The thing is, I think I had my views before because that is what people around me talk about, that is what the books say, what the Dr. says.  I think it's helpful to let people know that there are other parenting methods, just as a courtesy, not to judge or boss, but because they are probably only hearing about mainstream parenting.  At least I wish people would have brought it up with me.  But mostly, then I start to really question it again.  Should I put my son in preschool?  Ha ha.  I just went to Enrichment tonight and it was an item of topic.  How do you keep from getting wishy-washy?

Thank you,

The Answer:
Dear Erin,
What a good question--a good way of putting it.  It's made me think about my early days of adopting this way of parenting. As I've mentioned, I was a "natural consequences" mother.  When I read about this and gained a vision of it, I was excited to share it with my friends.  But, honestly, I was met mostly with skepticism.  People felt that it seemed permissive and inconsistent.  They felt that children wouldn't know where they stood if there were not swift, steady consequences for bad behavior.  I wasn't sure either.  It was a new idea.  I think this type of parenting requires a leap of faith because, on the surface, there are not immediate results.   But, for me, I sensed a difference right away.  I was no longer the enemy, but the advocate--and that position felt more comfortable. 
My children who have been raised this way from the beginning are now young adults and teen-agers and they are pretty impressive people.  So impressive, in fact, that I am often asked for advice on parenting from people who know them.  I know that they are the way they are, largely because of this form of discipline.  As promised in the book, they each have a strong conscience and they each have a warm relationship with us as their parents.  We have almost no conflict in our home.  In spite of that, many of the very people who ask my advice and see the results, really can't imagine that it could work.  It's just very hard for them to relinquish that position of force. 
 You are just where I was 20 years ago--deciding to paddle against the current of the philosophies of the day.   You're bound to meet with skepticism or even opposition.    But today, I am completely secure in this because I'm completely converted.  No one could persuade me to do otherwise.   It feels good to come to a place in your motherhood, where you are more tuned in to your own children than to the voices all around you.  And that can happen relatively quickly as you begin to experience the benefits of this type of parenting.
Many of the comments on this blog have addressed the topic of judging one another.   While condemning is never a good thing, we do have the task of looking around and sifting through the many claims and philosophies that swirl around us and deciding what is really right for us--and that involves making judgments.  In that process, many camps develop--"Love and Logic" camps, "Baby Whisperer" camps, "Natural Consequences" camps, advocates of preschools, mothers with opinions about when to start solid foods, potty training, kindergarten...I don't have to tell you this, right?  Just prayerfully make your decisions and move forward with them.  Let the debates carry on...because trust me, they always will.  And they're good in a way.  They just represent mothers trying to be good mothers. 
The truth is, the more secure you are in your beliefs, the less defensive you will become.  And as you focus on living it instead of explaining it, you will receive greater peace and clarity in the process.
All my love,


  1. This reminds me of some advice my husband gave me when I asked him how I could explain certain gospel principles to my friends. I said that I felt like I needed to know more about ALL other religions in order to explain differences and similarities of my own. He said, "It sounds like instead of knowing others' faiths, you need to learn more in your own faith. When you are secure and truly flourishing in your own testimony in your own religion, you will be able to explain it, because you will have true wisdom and understanding of various principles."

    It's the same with parenting principles, and I think Jane explained it well here. When you start to live the principles you believe in, explaining them to others will come naturally.

  2. Isn't that the way Heavenly Father teaches us...with natural consequences!? Hmmmm or perhaps the word is Agency.
    A principle is explained/taught, views are expressed at the time of 'operation', and then APPLAUSE for an appropriate judgment or 'I'm so sorry for you--What might have been a better way??'
    Like Jayne said.... Then Parent and child are on the same side working for success. Bravo Jayne!!

  3. Thank you Jane. My computer has been down for a few days, but I always look forward to your answers.


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