Parenting Strategies and Teaching Personal Responsibility, from Love and Logic

Reviewing Four Steps to Responsibility (CD), by Love and Logic, Institute.

Jim Fay, Love and Logic Co-founder, Parent  Educator and Lecturer, is light, confident, and expert in the minds of parents and their still life-learning children His approach and general attitude is empathetic and understanding, to both parents and kids. Love and Logic presents a full line of helpful parenting strategy curriculum in a contemporary real-world fashion.

Kids who mess up are the lucky ones. What? Really? Yip. Mistakes prepare and educate youngsters for adulthood. The gentle direction and sage guidance for families in Four Steps to Responsibility, a CD audio format, illustrates how we might begin transferring responsibility from our shoulders to the shoulders of our children. What parent cannot relate to running to school with a forgotten lunch box or due project sitting by the front door? (embarrassed to say, guilty here). 

This particular presentation is most poignantly appropriate for the junior high school parent. I’m unwilling to r-e-v-e-a-l the four steps here, taking a cue from Mr. Fay, because the parental lesson is in the process, the process of hearing and experiencing this speaker and his message. You may find humor in his self-poking, and even feel some shame about past or recent helicopter parenting. 

Don’t Steal from Your Kids was my favorite chapter on this audio. Simply put, allow your child the experience of making mistakes because the “unwritten curriculum” is more important that the 3 R’s. Messing up from time to time teaches personal responsibility and sharpens those decision making skills. “How are my decisions going to affect me?” versus “If I make this decision, who is going to be mad at me?” shifts individual thinking from the external  locus of control to truly internalizing why one choice is smarter than another.

Frankly, this would be a terrific lesson for teachers and school administrators, as well, and Mr. Fay speaks to that very point. There is strong teacher advocacy here, and Mr. Fay tips his hand, revealing his 17 years working as an elementary school principal in two opposing environments - one wealthy and one crime-riddled. It's philosophically interesting to ponder how the more affluent and resourced child might be more limited than the street-savvy independent child.

The Take Back Your School chapter holds my only small criticism. It seems an unreasonable approach to public school nowadays. “Take back your school” doesn’t seem like a concept that most two-working parents, struggling to get by and make ends meet, have the energy and momentum to navigate. Most parents do not demand that their local public school is “run like fantasy land.” But the larger point is not lost: School officials, please don’t kneel before the helicopter parents. I will not nag my child all the way out the door or rescue their overlooked permission slip, and in exchange, I will not ream you for letting my kid feel the results of his own actions. 

I often squirmed, reflecting back, just a month ago, on an episode involving my son’s weak study habits. As I felt fearful dread of his (my?) pending science midterm,  I can evidently see how I “owned” that exam…my son did not. This is not “our grade” and I am not in school!  Once I was able to detach my investment in his grade, the power struggle between us ended and, in fact, I had let go of the outcome. In the end, just in the nick of time my son, stepped in to earn his grade, and further, become motivated to make the great discovery of choice and consequence. 

An admonishment that I share with my clients, as a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, is nicely reiterated here as well: lots of words from mom and dad are not very effective. In fact, we might be able to prove a clear correlation between less words and more efficacy.   

Lecturing, shouting, old-world shame and blame, leaves a child feeling criticized and hopeless. Mr. Fay is casual and quick paced…I was never bored. He is a story-teller and the advice here feels practical.

Any of the parenting materials offered by Love and Logic will be your co-dependency antidote. The magic code to seamless and successful parenting cannot be delineated in four simple steps, however, consistent and wise reminders from those that have gone before us can make all the difference in the world. Maybe the result is one important decision that your kid makes, because he has built this skill-set over the course of a lifetime; often, those singular decisions, especially in the half-baked teen mind, can be life or death.   

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