Making the grade: trying the Love and Logic approach
We've had some schoolwork issues this year in our home, and it's made me think about different ways to handle schoolwork and other responsibilities of our children. For concerned parents, it seems to me there are two methods with two very different mindsets. Let me know if you can think of some other ways.
One option is very authoritarian, and involves the parents managing the child's homework and insisting on a certain result, ensuring that it happens. The power and sense of responsibility rest with the parents. For some children, this method works just fine in terms of performance, although they may fail to acquire the important skills of self-management. Other kids may fight the expectations, waging a long war against the parents.
The second method casts the parents more as guides, helping their children meet their own goals. Certainly a culture of excellence, of everyone doing their best, should be modeled in the family. But the parents allow the child to make mistakes and own them, and figure out how to do better next time. The parents in this method are more empathetic, feeling bad alongside the child in the face of failure and its consequences, rather than standing ready with punishment.
There is an excellent book called Parenting with Love and Logic that goes into great detail as to how to parent in this way. The authors, Foster Cline and Jim Fay, claim that when parents allow their kids to fail with smaller, less costly failures and consequences (like in the early grades), the kids learn the skills needed to make better choices and avoid more costly failures and consequences (like in high school when grades are more influential on their futures). The children learn responsibility precisely because they are given it.
While this â€śLove and Logicâ€ť method makes a lot of sense to me, it is quite challenging to live out. My instinct as a mom is always to protect and defend and see to my children's best interests. It can be hard to watch them make wrong choices and let them face the consequences, even though I know that's how they will really learn. I'm trying to back off a bit, to let my kids know their problems are theirs to solve, their assignments are theirs to complete (or not), and their grades are whatever they've earned for themselves.
Of course, I am available to provide reasonable help if needed and requested, but I am trying not to â€śmake them do it,â€ť however tempting that may be. Really, overall my kids are doing great. But everyone has their own issues. And I'm hopeful that my children will grow in responsibility, learning from their mistakes and failures along the way.
How do you handle your children's schoolwork and other responsibilities? Do you feel that their grades reflect on you or your parenting skills?