Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Modern Culture and Parenting

I wrote this post back in early March but never finished and posted it! 

Between parenting classes the months of February and March, books we are reading on parenting, a film Jake and I watched called “Healthy Touch”, and even the breastfeeding book* I just read as part of my doula training, I’ve heard a lot more on different parenting styles recently. Of course, attachment and detachment theories are prominent methods. I find psychology fascinating, but it is scary to read how much the relatively modern parenting methods of “behaviorism” and “authoritarian parenting” influence probably every parent in the Western world. (Just think how many times you offer either a reward or consequence—be it a movie, candy, spanking, separation via time-out, etc.—to manipulate your child into behaving as you desire, allowing the heart attitude to potentially remain untouched.)

When I heard of John B. Watson yet again in “The Christian Parenting Handbook: 50 Heart-Based Strategies for All the Stages of Your Child’s Life” (great book!), I had to look him up. This is one of the articles I found, and I couldn’t stop reading even though it was long:

A parenting expert who lost his own children… The dangers of “scientific parenting”, as the author call it, are many! Only since the 20th century have scientific men begun writing books to tell mothers how to raise their children, many of their premises going against the natural grain of our nurturing nature. How difficult it is to be influenced by only the Bible instead of modern science and the culture we live in!

Understanding the lack of heart change acquired with the “modern” methods encourages me to stay open to ways of interacting with my children that are the most beneficial to their character and our relationships in the long run. A big one is being a continual student of their own unique make up. Ever since the day Sophia was born, I see how impossible it is to force my kids to behave as I think they should. And even though I failed repeatedly with my first-born bio child, and had to back up to get to know this new little person who wasn’t like either Jake or I as a baby and had her very own unique DNA, I mistakenly believed that raising the boys would be easier. They were older! Could be reasoned with! Surely THEY would want to grow and change and take advantage of all the opportunities we were giving them! But more and more I hear myself telling the boys, “I cannot make you do xyz. YOU are the only person who can control YOU.” There is literally no way to force them to love learning, or books…or a good attitude as they confront a challenging school lesson.

Just this morning, I had a brief meeting with the three about our new school schedule and developing responsibility for their studies. As usual, I had them arguing with me that “This is just the way I am, I can’t change”. If they knew the word “refuse”, I’d surely be hearing “I REFUSE to change the way I am!!” They have their set list of excuses, the most common two being “Well, I was born in Bolivia” or “This is the way God made me”. It would be hard to rank our set of challenges raising the boys, but right up at the top would be learning how to motivate them to WANT to be strong, obedient, hardworking sons and students. Which reminds me, we have another book entitled “Motivate Your Child Action Plan” that Jake and I need to study and implement together. It focuses on heart attitudes and the child working with you to come up with the action plan, rather than a list of actions and consequences/rewards, as seen in Behaviorism.

If you haven’t pondered your parenting style recently, or are blessed with seemingly compliant children, consider analyzing yourself and your children anew.   

*Must mention my new favorite baby book (which includes a surprising amount of discussion of parenting styles), Breastfeeding Made Simple: Seven Natural Laws for Nursing Mothers

The only thing I dislike is the title, as I don’t consider long term, exclusive breastfeeding simple! I never would have bought it if not for its spot on my doula certification reading list. And the word “laws” is a bit misleading, as they have much to say of cultivating a warm, nurturing, loving bond with your baby for a successful feeding relationship, rather than focusing on a list of rules. Loved it! All expectant mothers should read this BEFORE beginning to feed their newborn. I completely agree with the importance of the first 40 days for many crucial physical and emotional milestones of the mother/baby breastfeeding relationship.