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I would like to say that I don't believe that discipline is to change people's personalities. I am not at all a compliant person.

 

I do think however that it is useful for children to learn that they are not the center of the universe before they go out into the big wide world.

 

Part of my discipline strategy is involving many people in my kids' lives so that the point that â€‹it's really not about them gets hammered home again and again and again.

 

 

 

All I can say, after my day today at school (I'm still here, but my classes end at 1:10), is that I loved today - seeing both my compliant and my non-compliant kids happily working on starting the next chapter's material - eagerly discussing the history of the cell and cell parts.

 

Okay but why wouldn't that happen? It doesn't take some special skill to help people find internal motivation. 

 

I think you are confusing intention to instill some level of obedience (not blind obedience, not slavish obedience, but obedience), with punitive measures to forcefully obtain compliance and/or removal of the non-compliant.

 

 


Just because I use trust to instill obedience doesn't mean that I haven't asked people to be obedient.

 

I think some people think of authority or obedience as basically fascist, forceful methods to obtain thoughtless carrying out of demands. To me obedience is not the case. It's not like training a dog (though an element of pavlovian response is helpful in the younger years). It's gained through a process over time so that the person engaged in the process can trust the leader and see where they're being led so they don't fall off a cliff. I climbed a mountain. I did not get there by questioning the authority of the guides. They did not have to hit me. We built trust. We worked together. They explained. And then when we went up the mountain, to a great degree, I obeyed.

 

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 Idk. They never did run in traffic or stick a knife in the outlet. I think maybe one of them drew on the wall once. We just cleaned it off.

 

I was intensely hands on when they were little. I tried to be proactive rather than reactive. We didn't have a lot of those 'oh my god react now or the child will die!' moments. In fact, I can't really think of any.

 

 

I don't see how that's possible.

 

If your kids never stuck a knife in an outlet, never repeatedly ran to the street, even after you explained, trained... then it's hard to imagine that you know what some of us are talking about.

 

My six year old STILL runs into traffic. It's really hard. My eight year old recently decided to charge her mobile device (used to call dad) in the bathroom. In order to remove it from the outlet, she used a barette, which was painted green, but which was metal. She nearly got electrocuted.

 

Things my kids have done and YES I explained rationally to them what would happen and used gentle discipline to ask them not to do it again and that's just about when i decided to write a mean letter to Dr. Sears which I eventually had to tear up:

 

1. Climb on any piece of furniture no matter how high, particularly shelving.

2. Run into the street repeatedly.

3. Bonk heads with people who pick you up, even at six months.

4. Put random things into your mouth repeatedly, repeatedly I tell you, including tearing apart paper and books, mushing it into balls, and putting it in your mouth.

5. Attempting at five months to crawl out of the house.

6. Attempting to get out of a car seat while in a moving vehicle from 9 months on for DD2, about 1 year for DD1.

7. Leaving the home and walking to the neighbors while we slept.

8. Banging head or other body parts repeatedly against a wall or piece of furniture when asked not to do things (even if the request was gentle), or if something they wanted but which was unsafe, was taken away.

9. Grabbing anything of value, but particularly glasses, computers, mobile phones, and trying to throw it into the street, on the ground, etc.

10. If asked to hold my hand, dropping with such force to limpness that I was concerned that they would dislocate their shoulder, and following that, refusing to get up, and head-butting me if I attempted to carry them out.

 

This was the toddler years for me. Until about three.

 

They still do dangerous things. For example, my little one likes to take her bike and find large steep hills and ride down them. The older one likes to create homemade zip lines. They also test boundaries repeatedly. No never means no to them even though I have never given in, and usually use increasing levels of privilege reduction if they try to push me.

 

I tried to be gentle.

 

 

 

 I guess I disciplined there, if you mean I said 'this is a good idea' and they said 'OK'.

 

LOL.

 

No, if they say OK within the first 50 times of mommy suggesting and not basically threatening to toss them off a cliff, then they are incredibly compliant. I would say "this is a good idea" and they would say "no." It usually escalated from there. "You could get really hurt and I love you." "No you don't." "Yes I do, honey, I do love you." "But it won't hurt." "Well yes... yes getting hit by a car hurts..." "I won't get hit." "No but you could..."

 

That was at the age of 16 months with DD1. It has been downhill and more argumentative ever since.

 

HOWEVER, I am thrilled to say that in spite of the fact that I have two children whose instincts are basically to kill themselves in the most violent, parentally-scarring way possible, and the fact that I have never managed to change their basic personalities,  I was able to make them obedient enough for public school.

 

And their teachers say they are independent thinkers but try to respect the group. They don't get sent to the principal's office. They now show remorse for disobeying group rules. They can explain why disobedience can hurt others even if you don't understand why when you're disobeying. "Because what if I don't wear shoes so we can't go on the field trip or I have to say in the office then Ms. Secretary will have to watch me and not get work done and that's not right. It's not right to hurt her."

 

But my GOD did I work to instill that level of obedience. I have wrinkles and gray hairs for it. It was so hard. I worked so hard to make them basically understand that "Using the rest of us to fulfill your death wish is a bad thing and you are clueless about what is deadly and what is not so LISTEN TO THE TEACHER!!!"

 

I am working at it even now.

 

Sadie, I don't know what you'd have done with my kids.

 

I swear I started out talking and being all gentle and thoughtful and slowly got to this point basically to keep my kids alive and able to participate in society. It's been very traumatic, to be honest.

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I am curious. For those that consider obedience to be a very important good character trait, would you say you value hierarchy

in general?

 

I think it turns me (and I suspect others) off because it's closely identified with a hierarchical family structure. For me, I often (but not always) also associate this with patriarchy, something that I flatly reject. It could well be that my linking of all of these things is not wholly correct but I personally don't see the same focus on obedience in more equalitarian family structures. This gets down to core values.

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Tsuga, I hear you and see what you are saying but would strongly caution you from thinking that gentle parenting techniques are only viable for easy or mostly compliant children. Nor does gentle parenting rest on reasoning, explaining or cajoling. It does focus on mutually respectful boundaries and personal autonomy.

 

An obedience oriented approach just made my son MORE defiant, violent and resistant. No one can call my son easy. My stories alone manufacture grey hairs in people he's never even met. We could have very well been headed for a residential treatment/out of home situation for him. Yet, gentle parenting is not only a thing that works for him, it is one of the only things that works well for him.

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Sorry, I haven't read through everyone's responses.

 

In our home, obedience simply meant "We know you haven't lived long enough or experienced enough to know all about this issue, so you need to trust us with this.  Your safety and your ability to live in this world peacefully among other humans are at stake."

 

It had nothing to do with taking the place of critical thinking or being independent, and it was not controlling.  As our children's critical thinking skills and wisdom became more refined, we were able to back down on the "obedience" part.   In fact, we were able to back down on it at a very young age. 

 

 

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Thanks for responding, Creekland and Sadie. How did things get to this point? He's a naturally non-compliant kid. ;) He's always been this way. Parenting him is hard. We talk about choices constantly. He needs a lot of guidance and structure, because he is attracted to wrong choices and bad behavior. He lacks the wisdom that will hopefully come with age, so we as his parents have to provide it for him at this point. He's much less mature than his same-age peers, has some learning and behavior challenges that we are addressing, and he needs boundaries. He is usually not able to explain why he does certain behaviors, and he doesn't respond to reason. We can talk through his behavior, but he will do the same thing the following day. The school paper example is just an example from one day but is not out of the ordinary.

 

Parenting him is hard. And two of his siblings are also challenging, each in his or her own way, so when he is having a good day, inevitably someone else is not.

 

I totally agree that building the relationships is the long-term goal. In hindsight, I can see where my parents failed in this part of parenting my rebellious brother. We work on that constantly with our kids. But being able to follow rules and live in harmony with others are important skills. In our family, they have to be directly taught, because my kids don't do it naturally or learn very well through modeling alone. DS11 is going to have a hard time with his adult relationships and in his eventual job if he is not willing to respect boundaries and follow directions and be kind. I hope and pray that we'll get there.

 

You certainly have a tough job with an 11 year old.  I know my parents did.  Letting him fail and get the consequences now and then probably is your best bet if you want an opinion from my perspective of having been there.  I was messing around with classwork and homework when I was in first grade and my teacher called me up near the end of the year to let me know I might not move on to 2nd grade.  That changed my behavior a bit.  Mom & Dad didn't.

 

But as mentioned before, I never got "good" at school until 7th when a guidance counselor (not mom or dad) showed me a path that worked for my future and told me it was up to me to get it done if I wanted it.  I can't truthfully say I never snuck around afterward or that I was easy to parent (never happened until adulthood), but that goal never left my mind and that path worked to change my life from what it could have been.  It gave my folks one less thing to worry about.

 

:grouphug:  Difficult children are difficult. 

 

I have apologized to my parents more than once.

 

Idk. I had three under 6, so not super widely spaced, but pretty small. I suppose preferred parenting style is something to take into account when deciding on family size.

 

Babysitters have never dreaded my kids :)

 

My three are within 5 years.  Babysitters never dreaded my kids, but we were also more authoritarian before my kids reached the age of reason.  I'm in agreement that most kids need some structure and do better with it.  One could definitely tell my compliant kids from my non-compliant one though.  We were less strict with him as it would make things worse.  I wish we had been less strict with the other two.  They had no need for major strictness.

 

All three are terrific young men now who are doing really well in this life.  

 

Oldest is somewhat resentful of how strict we were with him - and in some areas - we agree with him.  There was no need.  We should have adjusted the way we were.  Middle and youngest have told us and their friends that they think we were awesome parents.  That's a very, very good feeling.

 

Don't mix that up with our being perfect parents.  Hormones still run and we still made "best guesses" at times that ended up being wrong.  We apologized when needed - even if long after the fact.  I think our lack of "perfection" might have helped turn them into being more compassionate themselves.

 

This just got my attention. And I read the past responses, but I am super tired so maybe I am missing something? But I am wondering, how does it work not to discipline kids? What happens when you ask one of them to clean their room and they don't? If they are not kind to other siblings? If they hit? Backtalk? Don't do their school work? I mean, no one is perfect. How can raising children not involve some sort of discipline? Just curious. Can't see how can this work?

 

Not cleaning their room?  It's their room.  Who cares?  Not being kind to others?  Talking if it works, discipline if that fails.  Young kids definitely need discipline at times - just not 100% of the time.  They don't need to learn to obey as much as learning skills to get along in our social world.  Some can do this well fairly instinctively.  Some can learn through the wisdom of others.  Some need to slip and fall and pick themselves back up.

 

As adults we're not perfect and I much prefer discussions when imperfection happens (apologies - working it out for the future - in a positive manner) to discipline.  One ought to try it with school aged kids (and older) and only use discipline as a super last resort.

 

I am curious. For those that consider obedience to be a very important good character trait, would you say you value hierarchy

in general?

 

I think it turns me (and I suspect others) off because it's closely identified with a hierarchical family structure. For me, I often (but not always) also associate this with patriarchy, something that I flatly reject. It could well be that my linking of all of these things is not wholly correct but I personally don't see the same focus on obedience in more equalitarian family structures. This gets down to core values.

 

I can't say I value any sort of hierarchy.  I value peers and working together - not anything at all that's top down management expecting respect just because.

 

Someone at the top doesn't necessarily have the best ideas nor the best wisdom.  The best leaders respect those with them and do well.  Their job title might put them at the top (or they might own the company, etc), but they don't overestimate themselves nor have the arrogance to look down upon all the little people.  The worst end up like Hitler - very authoritarian and certainly not in a good way.

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ps  The best family memories I have from my childhood and youth were the times I spent with my parents having fun together - trips we took, county fairs, TV shows or movies we watched together. Playing board games.  Playing soccer as a family. Christmas.  In general, it was the relationship building times.

 

The worst were when they were trying to enforce discipline.  At 11, I really was the final straw that caused my parents to split.  They were fighting over me... mom had asked me to bring her a rake outside in the garden.  I flat out refused.  That fight continued for a bit and ended with her hitting me with hairbrush across the face in the house.  Dad got mad and called the police.  Mom and my sister left - forever.  The time afterward is a nightmare I don't plan to relive with any more details.

 

Dad wasn't any better overall with discipline though.  I left him my senior year of high school after a fight - one of many.  He never came to my high school or college graduations or even my wedding.  Now we have a very basic relationship.

 

My mom and I have a great relationship NOW.  She's with us here in Niagara Falls with middle son enjoying his fall break.  It's really amazing how much she matured after my own kids were born...  :lol:

 

Everyone with kids can parent them as they wish (short of abuse, of course).  My two cents is to build relationships as much as you can, and certainly more than discipline, once they are up to some sort of reasoning age.  This is far more important for the non-compliant kids.  Teamwork is good.  Battles are bad.  Most kids will turn out just fine.  They just aren't wired the same.

 

What worked the absolute best for me?  My escape... horses - riding.  It kept me out of trouble (in general) and gave me an outlet.  I also had the great outdoors and dogs/cats.  Kids who don't get along with people the best often do well with animals - not always - watch for those who abuse animals(!), but often.

 

There's one young man at school who has succeeded from a bad situation via his running (competitively), so sports could be an option for some too.

 

You need to find something they like and NOT EVER take it away from them in the guise of discipline.  My dad tried that one...  Everyone, esp those with mental stress of some sort, needs an escape.  (Even now I use traveling and we raise ponies...)

 

These kids can grow up to have a great future, but they need careful parenting - kudos to those of you who in the process.

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So...this has been in my mind for a while, a spin off to many threads related to kids not minding their parents. My heart aches for those parents. And also from experiences I have witnessed (or close friends have also witnessed and we discuss it). What has happened to parental authority? I mean, there seems to be many kids now a days who run the show. I am very much the old fashioned mom who has high expectations from her kids, not only in academics but in anything obedience related...I am the parent, not them. Fourth commandment, "Honor thy father and thy mother" applies very much so in our household. And don't get me wrong, we are not sargeants...we allow for plenty of fun, fieldtrips, play dates with friends etc. I think our kids have a fun, well balanced life. But with those fun things come responsibilities...they wouldn't get those if they didn't mind us. I am just puzzled when people.comment that their kids only behave around others, or behave much better when they are under other people's supervision (friend's parents, teachers etc)...it baffles me! How is that OK? If they can behave perfectly around others, who tells them it's OK to not listen and respect their parents? Just trying to make sense of this. Of course, assuming a healthy child (physically and mentally). And I know not everyone believes in God, so probably the 4th Commandment means nothing to you...but still, commandment or not I am a firm believer that children have the responsibility and obligation to mind their parents. What are your thoughts? And sorry for the big block of text... my computer doesn't like this website so won't let me access it...always type from my cell (which has no word processor, so even if I use enter it doesn't show it).

 

It could be that those children are learning to assert themselves. Children often practice asserting themselves initially with their family members if they feel unconditionally loved. They feel safe in their families and know that rocking the boat a little won't lead to a catastrophe. It can look like rebellion and disrespect but learning how to assert oneself is a healthy, often messy, part of growing up.

 

Po Bronson explains this more fully in his book Nurture Shock in the chapter titled "The Science of Teen Rebellion: Why, for adolescents, arguing with adults is a sign of respect, not disrespect--and arguing is constructive to the relationship, not destructive." The book is worth reading for that chapter alone.

 

There could be other issues going on in the family as well but a certain amount of conflict between parents and children is not always bad.

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Not cleaning their room?  It's their room.  Who cares? 

 

 

I'll admit I don't understand this approach although I know many people feel this way. To each his own. I do happen to care. I care because I don't want to break my neck by tripping over stuff in the middle of the floor. I care because trash belongs in the trash can, not on an end table or under the bed. I care because clothing that has been laundered and folded for someone shouldn't be dumped in a heap and stepped on. I care because when said child cannot find something, I don't want to have to listen to the complaining and accusations that "someone moved it." I care because we don't keep doors closed unless someone wants privacy, so I end up having to look at it. I care because there's nothing--to my mind--unreasonable about wanting minimal standards of neatness and organization. Some people are naturally neat. Others aren't and need to be taught and reminded to put things away so they don't get damaged, etc. A child's room is his/her space, yes. But it's also part of a family home, and everyone has a role in keeping the home pleasant and livable. I'm not talking white glove clean. Just reasonably tidy. That's why I care.

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I don't see how that's possible.

 

If your kids never stuck a knife in an outlet, never repeatedly ran to the street, even after you explained, trained... then it's hard to imagine that you know what some of us are talking about.

 

My six year old STILL runs into traffic. It's really hard. My eight year old recently decided to charge her mobile device (used to call dad) in the bathroom. In order to remove it from the outlet, she used a barette, which was painted green, but which was metal. She nearly got electrocuted.

 

Things my kids have done and YES I explained rationally to them what would happen and used gentle discipline to ask them not to do it again and that's just about when i decided to write a mean letter to Dr. Sears which I eventually had to tear up:

 

1. Climb on any piece of furniture no matter how high, particularly shelving.

2. Run into the street repeatedly.

3. Bonk heads with people who pick you up, even at six months.

4. Put random things into your mouth repeatedly, repeatedly I tell you, including tearing apart paper and books, mushing it into balls, and putting it in your mouth.

5. Attempting at five months to crawl out of the house.

6. Attempting to get out of a car seat while in a moving vehicle from 9 months on for DD2, about 1 year for DD1.

7. Leaving the home and walking to the neighbors while we slept.

8. Banging head or other body parts repeatedly against a wall or piece of furniture when asked not to do things (even if the request was gentle), or if something they wanted but which was unsafe, was taken away.

9. Grabbing anything of value, but particularly glasses, computers, mobile phones, and trying to throw it into the street, on the ground, etc.

10. If asked to hold my hand, dropping with such force to limpness that I was concerned that they would dislocate their shoulder, and following that, refusing to get up, and head-butting me if I attempted to carry them out.

 

This was the toddler years for me. Until about three.

 

They still do dangerous things. For example, my little one likes to take her bike and find large steep hills and ride down them. The older one likes to create homemade zip lines. They also test boundaries repeatedly. No never means no to them even though I have never given in, and usually use increasing levels of privilege reduction if they try to push me.

 

I tried to be gentle.

 

 

LOL.

 

No, if they say OK within the first 50 times of mommy suggesting and not basically threatening to toss them off a cliff, then they are incredibly compliant. I would say "this is a good idea" and they would say "no." It usually escalated from there. "You could get really hurt and I love you." "No you don't." "Yes I do, honey, I do love you." "But it won't hurt." "Well yes... yes getting hit by a car hurts..." "I won't get hit." "No but you could..."

 

That was at the age of 16 months with DD1. It has been downhill and more argumentative ever since.

 

HOWEVER, I am thrilled to say that in spite of the fact that I have two children whose instincts are basically to kill themselves in the most violent, parentally-scarring way possible, and the fact that I have never managed to change their basic personalities, I was able to make them obedient enough for public school.

 

And their teachers say they are independent thinkers but try to respect the group. They don't get sent to the principal's office. They now show remorse for disobeying group rules. They can explain why disobedience can hurt others even if you don't understand why when you're disobeying. "Because what if I don't wear shoes so we can't go on the field trip or I have to say in the office then Ms. Secretary will have to watch me and not get work done and that's not right. It's not right to hurt her."

 

But my GOD did I work to instill that level of obedience. I have wrinkles and gray hairs for it. It was so hard. I worked so hard to make them basically understand that "Using the rest of us to fulfill your death wish is a bad thing and you are clueless about what is deadly and what is not so LISTEN TO THE TEACHER!!!"

 

I am working at it even now.

 

Sadie, I don't know what you'd have done with my kids.

 

I swear I started out talking and being all gentle and thoughtful and slowly got to this point basically to keep my kids alive and able to participate in society. It's been very traumatic, to be honest.

Wow!!! I got tired just from reading your post! How overwhelming and exhausting :( Hope things keep getting better! Kids are just so different! Maybe yours like thrill and excitement? I don't know...
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I'll admit I don't understand this approach although I know many people feel this way. To each his own. I do happen to care. I care because I don't want to break my neck by tripping over stuff in the middle of the floor. I care because trash belongs in the trash can, not on an end table or under the bed. I care because clothing that has been laundered and folded for someone shouldn't be dumped in a heap and stepped on. I care because when said child cannot find something, I don't want to have to listen to the complaining and accusations that "someone moved it." I care because we don't keep doors closed unless someone wants privacy, so I end up having to look at it. I care because there's nothing--to my mind--unreasonable about wanting minimal standards of neatness and organization. Some people are naturally neat. Others aren't and need to be taught and reminded to put things away so they don't get damaged, etc. A child's room is his/her space, yes. But it's also part of a family home, and everyone has a role in keeping the home pleasant and livable. I'm not talking white glove clean. Just reasonably tidy. That's why I care.

Totally absolutely agree. We are not neat freaks, but there has to be some order in our home. If I let the kids decide we'd probably live in a pigpen? I think they would be OK with that, unless I taught them it's not OK :)
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If they don't clean their room, it's probably because I was projecting my need for order onto them. If there was a reason to clean their room, they'd clean it. So mostly I'd back off and think about my need for control. Or clean it for them.

 

Not doing school work has built in consequences - if you are at school or uni, you will fail. If you are homeschooled and you don't do your school work, I won't be allowed to homeschool you any more. Mostly, they choose to do their work.

 

Backtalk ? I don't really know. My kids don't backtalk. I don't really know what that means. If one of them is snippy it's usually due to tiredness or hormones or emotional upset. I might make a suggestion, or make them a cup of tea, or leave them alone for a while.

 

Hitting was only an issue here for a few months when ds was small. I didn't exactly discipline that, but I didn't allow it either. Mostly I focused on offering alternatives - hitting a pillow, using words to explain the anger...

 

Two of my kids are mostly kind to one another. One varies. The one who varies - we talk about it a lot, about how she's kind of wrecking her chance to have a good relationship with the other sibling. I often remind her that I am ds' parent and it isn't her role to behave like a mean mommy.

 

One time we put ds on a 'naughty chair', I think because we were watching SuperNanny. Ds looked so darn cute sitting there swinging his little legs we all gave him a big hug and that was the end of that.

 

Idk. Maybe no discipline is wrong. Maybe I mean no punishment. I don't punish, I don't give consequences. I am a fan of natural consequences though, does that count ?

 

Idk. Maybe my kids are freakishly easy. They are nice people. They don't give me a lot of trouble.

Yeah, probably no punishment? Sounds like it works for you. Still, I wouldn't say there's no discipline at all in your household. Sounds like there's some guidance and lots of talking. I don't know, I don't necessarily relate discipline to punishment. Maybe that's just me :) I was just wondering :)
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It could be that those children are learning to assert themselves. Children often practice asserting themselves initially with their family members if they feel unconditionally loved. They feel safe in their families and know that rocking the boat a little won't lead to a catastrophe. It can look like rebellion and disrespect but learning how to assert oneself is a healthy, often messy, part of growing up.

 

Po Bronson explains this more fully in his book Nurture Shock in the chapter titled "The Science of Teen Rebellion: Why, for adolescents, arguing with adults is a sign of respect, not disrespect--and arguing is constructive to the relationship, not destructive." The book is worth reading for that chapter alone.

 

There could be other issues going on in the family as well but a certain amount of conflict between parents and children is not always bad.

Totally agree. And yes, I know there will be conflict and it's not unhealthy. Parenting over all is such a broad concept, there's are so many different situations and scenarios!
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So obedience is bad because it's closely related to a hierarchical family structure? Hmmm. And by hierarchy - what does that mean? That parents are not the equals of their children in every way and there is a parent-to-child direction in which things such as this flow? Surely there is some scientific area of study that looks at how children's brains develop and has established that adult brains and children's brains are different, yes? If so, why would it be a good idea to treat these two different things as the same? Not only do parents have fully developed brains, but they also have the experience (and possibly the accompanying wisdom) gained from having "been there and done that." Hierarchy (meaning that parents are in a higher position than their children) makes all the sense in the world to me. Yes, of course, children and parents are both living human beings, created in the image and likeness of God, worthy of dignity and respect, etc. etc. but the idea that children should be giving directions to their parents, or that everyone in a family should be equals just sounds like a recipe for disaster. I've seen it bad enough with parents who let their kid scuttle grown up plans by offering a choice instead of presenting a course of action. "We were thinking about going out to dinner. Would you like to do that?" "No." If there is no hierarchy, when exactly does a child become an equal member of the family society who is able to veto parental decisions?

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And, I'm a little weary of emphasizing that no, it isn't a disaster at all, that plenty of families out there have harmonious relationships and good kids without putting 'obedience' up there on a pedestal.

 

It's an interesting dynamic, don't you think, this impression of socially feral children in families where conflict resolution is based on individual's needs and desires as articulated and advocated by the individual, rather than by the one person or couple who maintains autonomous control of limited and desired resources? And yet, if we genuinely consider the argument that hierarchy is necessary for a well-organized, respectful family, we can find examples of families that invest great effort and resources into establishing and maintaining a specific kind of hierarchy and yet don't meet desired goals; additionally, we can find examples of families that resolve conflict through more cooperative efforts - whatever those goals are identified to be. So clearly, hierarchy isn't the pivotal variable here. Obviously, families can and do make mutual cooperation strategies work, and obviously, families can and do make conventional hierarchy work. This seems to me to be a variation of the theme that assumes one must be loyal to a particular religious or political or ideological system to have morals, empathy, compassion, and a sense of personal responsibility. Clearly we can find examples in all walks of life that show different approaches can and do work to meet desired goals. 

 

In answer to your question, Michael12, "If there is no hierarchy, when exactly does a child become an equal member of the family society who is able to veto parental decisions?" I think this is a loaded question. It's nonsensical within the environment of mutual cooperation and only works within the framework of hierarchy and unilateral control of resources. For example, in an environment in which children learn to identify and advocate for their own needs, and simultaneously learn how to suppress desires in order to protect and promote the needs and desires of others (cooperation), the whole veto concept is irrelevant. That's part of a hierarchical structure, not cooperative. While we're talking about generalities (I should think is should go without saying that specifics like immediate danger would be addressed appropriately to the event, regardless of one's parenting style), the whole veto concept is a part of an arguably undesired lesson, namely, Might Makes Right. I've come to the conclusion this moral code is not only unethical, it's tyrannical. For this reason, anyone in my family can "veto" what amounts to coercion or unjust manipulation. Part of being the adult means I have more experience learning how to be mindful of my behavior, more practice assessing whether a desire or demand I'd like to see honored is truly respectful of the needs and desires of others, or if it protects my own emotional frailties in some way. Learning how to recognize that has done more to shape our family dynamic than anything else.  These are skills my children have learned, and it serves them well as they begin to live more independent lives. Rather than leaving any of us more vulnerable, I submit it's given us all greater tools of self-determinism, autonomy, and strong, interpersonal relationships. 

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I am curious. For those that consider obedience to be a very important good character trait, would you say you value hierarchy

in general?

 

I think it turns me (and I suspect others) off because it's closely identified with a hierarchical family structure. For me, I often (but not always) also associate this with patriarchy, something that I flatly reject. It could well be that my linking of all of these things is not wholly correct but I personally don't see the same focus on obedience in more equalitarian family structures. This gets down to core values.

 

I'm not sure I would say I value hierarchy, but I think it is actually inevitable, and even biological.  I think all social animals have hierarchy.  If we think about the reasons for that, they show I think why it is valuable. 

 

Obedience is ultimately about being able to recognize legitimate hierarchy, ideally about being able to understand one's own place in that both as an authority to others and one who is obedient, and being able to work toward the common good within those roles, and having the self-discipline to do all that - something which is in many cases more difficult for the person with the authority to do really well.

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 You are very good at clearly explaining this perspective.

 

I'm curious about how you would define 'legitimate hierarchy'. 

 

That's why I paid so much for that philosophy degree. :001_smile:

 

I think I am with Plato on this - it's legitimate if it is just, that is, rightly ordered toward the Good.

 

How do we decide it is just is rather more fraught though.

 

A basic way of thinking about it for me is whether it respects all people involved as persons, respects their role, and also tends toward the common good which is typically manifested institutionally in some sort of body like a tribe or state.

 

So, authority in a democracy would generally be considered legitimate if it had the support of the people - not necessarily each decision made but the support of the people for the institution.  But that would depend on the individuals giving their support doing so in a way that respects others and also respects the common good, and the state acting to both those ends as well.

 

In the case of a family, the authority of parents is based on their more developed capacities, but that doesn't mean that it allows for anything.  It needs to respect the children as persons, both abstractly as having human dignity, bit also as individuals, recognizing and responding to their particular capacities and needs, and helping them develop those capacities.  It also needs to work toward the common good of the family and also in a sense of society. 

 

I think there are different ways that arrangement can work - different societies and families have different ways of arranging themselves that can work well.  Some cultures can have customs or governments that strongly tend to encourage or create injustice, say, by giving parents or the state more authority than they should have.  But it is also unjust if parents or the state abdicates from their role, say, not making sure that individual persons are protected as they ought to be, or shirking their role in pursuing the common good.  In family life that could mean not protecting kids from each other or their own lack of ability, not helping them develop understanding or self-discipline, giving them responsibilities or choices they aren't ready for.

 

Obviously no one in a family or government or any other organization is always going to make the right choices and most people allow their own issues to interfere at times, but when there are real deviations i think that makes the authority illegitimate.

 

Even then though, I would tend not to support anarchist approaches, and more organized civil disobedience, which recognizes that even when a particular authority is not legitimate there is still a kind of authority inherent in civil society.

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Tsuga, I hear you and see what you are saying but would strongly caution you from thinking that gentle parenting techniques are only viable for easy or mostly compliant children. Nor does gentle parenting rest on reasoning, explaining or cajoling. It does focus on mutually respectful boundaries and personal autonomy.

 

An obedience oriented approach just made my son MORE defiant, violent and resistant. No one can call my son easy. My stories alone manufacture grey hairs in people he's never even met. We could have very well been headed for a residential treatment/out of home situation for him. Yet, gently parenting is not only a thing that works for him, it is one of the only things that works well for him.

 

How can you have boundaries if someone else's goal is to violate them?

 

I also think that my idea of obedience may be very different than the idea of obedience some people have.

 

To me, obedience is what you need so that when you say, "Baby, please stop throwing that knife. It's not a toy," that they at a bare minimum listen. They don't have to be little storm troopers obeying my request to do homework at 5 p.m. They can ask questions then. But if I say, "No, I don't have the money" and explain the entire capitalist system to them answering question after question patiently, repeatedly, and then they say, "But are you sure?" and then again, and again, and again... yeah, that's tiring. I'm not asking them not to question. I'm asking them not to badger me until I cry.

 

I really think that's necessary.

 

 

 

It's an interesting dynamic, don't you think, this impression of socially feral children in families where conflict resolution is based on individual's needs and desires as articulated and advocated by the individual, rather than by the one person or couple who maintains autonomous control of limited and desired resources?

 

How is obedience related to "autonomous control of limited and desired resources"?

 

Maybe just wanting someone not to throw themselves violently on the concrete when you ask them to please go inside as it's dark and you need to return to cook dinner, is not "autonomous control of limited and desired resources"?

 

Do you think my children are mentally ill, or that I'm unable to explain things?

 

Why didn't letting them decide for themselves to come inside at two work? What did I do wrong? I should have explained politely 6,001 times instead of 6,000? Was my routine not routine enough? Did she hear the sleep-deprived edge in my voice? Did she hear my crying at night? What did I do wrong, to make me deserve a child who didn't respond to gentle discipline?

 

She simply didn't know. She was two! How could she understand what needed to be done for us to eat? She didn't. My explanation, my kindness, never worked. On the contrary, I was a disaster and thinking of killing myself because I was such a massive failure.

 

 

 

It's nonsensical within the environment of mutual cooperation

 

Yeah, I think the fact that my kids never actually had a desire to please--the desire to be loved, to fit in, to have my approval, or even to have food and shelter (the now-six-year-old could go long periods without eating if she could just crawl and then, walk)--or to cooperate or be involved in anything that could be described in any way as "mutual" would be the starting problem here.

 

"Ow, that hurts mommy" in some children would elicit tears, in others, a pause. In some children, like my older DD, it would elicit a repeat of the behavior.

 

Harder this time.

 

Tell me how you mutually cooperate with that.

 

"Owie, mommy hurts. See?" She loved that. She literally would laugh at my pain.

 

How do you expect a parent to build mutual cooperation from that?

 

And then they doubt. They all doubted me, except my sister. Her son is the same. My mom said we were the same, and we defeated her hippy-dippy desire to be a gentle, explanatory, non-authoritative democratic parent. Oh, how we defeated her. We ground her belief in humanity into the ground.

 

 

 

Wow!!! I got tired just from reading your post! How overwhelming and exhausting  :( Hope things keep getting better! Kids are just so different! Maybe yours like thrill and excitement? I don't know...

 

Yes. And I am so tired.

 

But it does get better. The first thing that happened is that I decided that I would do my best to raise adults, but if that failed, I would get out of these 18 years alive and not in prison or with child neglect on my record. 

 

That was all I could manage as a parent.

 

Not that I didn't want a relationship. I just... I couldn't do anything to convince them to want a relationship.

 

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I'll admit I don't understand this approach although I know many people feel this way. To each his own. I do happen to care. I care because I don't want to break my neck by tripping over stuff in the middle of the floor. I care because trash belongs in the trash can, not on an end table or under the bed. I care because clothing that has been laundered and folded for someone shouldn't be dumped in a heap and stepped on. I care because when said child cannot find something, I don't want to have to listen to the complaining and accusations that "someone moved it." I care because we don't keep doors closed unless someone wants privacy, so I end up having to look at it. I care because there's nothing--to my mind--unreasonable about wanting minimal standards of neatness and organization. Some people are naturally neat. Others aren't and need to be taught and reminded to put things away so they don't get damaged, etc. A child's room is his/her space, yes. But it's also part of a family home, and everyone has a role in keeping the home pleasant and livable. I'm not talking white glove clean. Just reasonably tidy. That's why I care.

 

Same.  I'm not hardnosed about when it has to be done, though.  Every day there is a requirement to tidy the room.  That means, if I bring a contractor through, I best not be finding any dirty underwear on the floor.  Sometime during the week the sheets need to be changed, the surfaces dusted, and the floor vacuumed.  That means things need to be moved (even if they go right back in the same spot) and smells are dispatched. It is about the same level of cleanliness I expect my children to have when they leave home, at least after the first few years.  LOL They should know when an acceptable time frame to change sheets is, how to vacuum properly, and how to see when the clutter gets to be unmanageable.

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How can you have boundaries if someone else's goal is to violate them?

 

 

That is when you need boundaries the most. That is why I value boundaries so much.

 

I promise you that there is nothing stressful, short of sending someone *besides himself* to the ER, that kids can do that my son has not done.

 

Gentle parenting is not a panacea. Don't think I am saying it works for all kids or is ideal for all situations. Nor is it at odds with limits and parental guidance.

 

But please stop implying that it only works for easy kids. My son does have ASD and mental health issues and as I said, we have seriously had to evaluate the future viability of him even continuing to live with us. Before he even turned twelve we were wondering how long it would be before he was in in patient treatment. I am a tough cookie and I have broken down in utter despair and desperation in regards to my son.

 

How do I get him to listen though? Definitely not with any sort of hierarchal or obedience focused model. Through a number of strategies I have a child who is well adjusted, exceeding social expectations for his situation and excelling academically. I can generate nasty behaviors in him if I start whipping out the "because I said so" cards and such.

 

What has worked for me in some of the examples you listed. Throwing knives? The knife will be taken away. This is not a hypothetical scenario.

 

Pestering to buy something. Sure, you can buy that if you want to spend your own money. Oh, it's not worth your money? Huh, wonder why it's worth mine. ;) well, maybe if you still want it in a week you will change your mind or you can put it on your Chrsitmas list. We started giving them a meaningful allowance at 4 and they use that for stuff they want that is not on my list.

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That is when you need boundaries the most. That is why I value boundaries so much.

 

I promise you that there is nothing stressful, short of sending someone *besides himself* to the ER, that kids can do that my son has not done.

 

Gentle parenting is not a panacea. Don't think I am saying it works for all kids or is ideal for all situations. Nor is it at odds with limits and parental guidance.

 

But please stop implying that it only works for easy kids. My son does have ASD and mental health issues and as I said, we have seriously had to evaluate the future viability of him even continuing to live with us. Before he even turned twelve we were wondering how long it would be before he was in in patient treatment. I am a tough cookie and I have broken down in utter despair and desperation in regards to my son.

 

​I am not trying to imply that. What I'm trying to imply is that sometimes it doesn't work.

 

How do I get him to listen though? Definitely not with any sort of hierarchal or obedience focused model. Through a number of strategies I have a child who is well adjusted, exceeding social expectations for his situation and excelling academically. I can generate nasty behaviors in him if I start whipping out the "because I said so" cards and such.

 

I think 

 

What has worked for me in some of the examples you listed. Throwing knives? The knife will be taken away. This is not a hypothetical scenario.

 

Then I think we are posting at cross-purposes, because to me, there is no greater fascism than taking someone's things away. How is that not demanding obedience? It's even more. You just skip the demand and impose parental authority. To me, that's beyond authoritarianism. It's total fascism. So I can see how we are not meeting eye to eye. I mean, I take the knife away as well. But I don't view this as gentle in any way, shape or form. Gentle discipline NEVER suggested that I would take away the toy. i was always to use reason and love. It was a total failure.

 

Pestering to buy something. Sure, you can buy that if you want to spend your own money. Oh, it's not worth your money? Huh, wonder why it's worth mine. ;) well, maybe if you still want it in a week you will change your mind or you can put it on your Chrsitmas list. We started giving them a meaningful allowance at 4 and they use that for stuff they want that is not on my list.

 

That's fantastic. I have done all that since my child was 19 months. It never stops. Then she cries. Then she says I don't love her. Then she says she wishes she were dead. She won't stop even if I say, "YOU ARE HURTING ME WHEN YOU REFUSE TO LISTEN TO MY POINT OF VIEW. IT IS NOT NICE AND YOU'RE HURTING ME! I can't provide for our family if I spend all day responding to or even trying to ignore your demands! Please stop! I can't do it! STOP NAGGING ME, PLEASE!" She won't stop. As you know, her father has NPD or something close to it. It takes everything I have not to project that on to her and to remember that she's a child. "FINE, mom, I guess I'm horrible. You said you love me but I know you don't like me now. You lied. I hate myself! Why love myself if even my mom doesn't love me?"

 

And NO I don't fall for that, but WTF?!?!? I mean for real, what. the. &%$#. Who says that????? I do not talk like that to her. It's horrifying. At that point I leave. That is not attached or gentle. I just leave the house and go outside and rest my mind and meditate. And when I am calm I come inside and ask her not to lie about others to make them feel bad about themselves, that I don't feel bad, I won't even answer her accusations, and that I will be ignoring this conversation further, and she can see how far I'm willing to ignore, go for it.

 

To me, that's not gentle. That's asking her to respect me, which, since I'm the one with the power, is asking her to obey.

 

So what do I do? I don't say, "listen or else". No, never. That would be foolish. Of course!

 

But I also can't talk it out.

 

I think, again, that if anyone is TRYING to make their child understand they aren't the center of the universe; trying to instill some sense of respect for other human beings; than in effect they are asking for obedience.

 

o·be·di·ence

əˈbÄ“dÄ“É™ns,ÅˈbÄ“dÄ“É™ns/
noun
 
compliance with an order, request, or law or submission to another's authority.
 
​
So, yeah. I want my kids to comply with orders and requests when reasonable. i want them to recognize legitimate authority, such as democratically elected authority in a truly democratic system or at least the best system we can get in practice, and I want them to obey the law, absolutely.
 
But none of this requires spanking, hitting, screaming (though I have lost my temper) or anything really forceful. As you may see on other threads I'm pretty permissive and free-range!
 
But yeah... today a lady drove across three lanes of traffic against the blinking yellow light.
 
NO. OBEY. My life is at stake! Just last weekend a baby was killed due to a driver not OBEYING traffic laws. I guess that driver thought they had the right to question the authority of traffic officials. Now a baby is dead.
 
 

 

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Totally absolutely agree. We are not neat freaks, but there has to be some order in our home. If I let the kids decide we'd probably live in a pigpen? I think they would be OK with that, unless I taught them it's not OK :)

 

I don't remember the last time I asked my dds to clean their rooms, but their rooms are clean. They are 13 and 15. When they were little, we made clean up a game, I was always there helping, and there were no issues. Now, sometimes their rooms do get messy but they always clean them up themselves without my asking. They do leave more trash/clutter around the living area than I would like but when they see me picking it up they get up, help, and apologize for not already doing it.

 

I don't feel I taught them so much as just worked with them from the very beginning. I'm also one of those parents who don't let meals/food be an issue. My dds have a say in what they eat and they do not have ot eat what I make. As teens now they pretty much always do, though, and they are adventurous eaters. When they were little, many told me I was wrong and they would stay picky.

 

Maybe I have very easy dds but it just seemed early on that things were easier for everyone if we talked and worked together. Along the way they've become people I really enjoy being around.

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So obedience is bad because it's closely related to a hierarchical family structure? Hmmm. And by hierarchy - what does that mean? That parents are not the equals of their children in every way and there is a parent-to-child direction in which things such as this flow? Surely there is some scientific area of study that looks at how children's brains develop and has established that adult brains and children's brains are different, yes? If so, why would it be a good idea to treat these two different things as the same? Not only do parents have fully developed brains, but they also have the experience (and possibly the accompanying wisdom) gained from having "been there and done that." Hierarchy (meaning that parents are in a higher position than their children) makes all the sense in the world to me. Yes, of course, children and parents are both living human beings, created in the image and likeness of God, worthy of dignity and respect, etc. etc. but the idea that children should be giving directions to their parents, or that everyone in a family should be equals just sounds like a recipe for disaster. I've seen it bad enough with parents who let their kid scuttle grown up plans by offering a choice instead of presenting a course of action. "We were thinking about going out to dinner. Would you like to do that?" "No." If there is no hierarchy, when exactly does a child become an equal member of the family society who is able to veto parental decisions?

Totally agree with this.
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How is obedience related to "autonomous control of limited and desired resources"?

 

When rewards and punishment are based on control of resources (ie, games, tv, access to friends, social events, affection, etc), then the one who controls the resources has the autonomy to share or withhold at their discretion. Obedience is the method by which the other can access these resources. 

 

Do you think my children are mentally ill, or that I'm unable to explain things?

 

I have insufficient evidence to answer this question, and I won't likely ever have the knowledge, skills, or experience to answer it. I have no problem taking you at your word, however. I do think you sound frustrated, and I can understand why. I haven't read through the thread so if there are comments that feel personal, I apologize if my post gives the impression of piling on. That's not my intent at all. My intent was to commiserate with Sadie who seems to repeatedly find herself defending her family from accusations that simply don't apply (namely, not utilizing authoritarian style parenting does not result in her children growing up with antisocial behaviors), and to suggest a strong emphasis on hierarchy in a family dynamic may not be the pertinent variable when exploring what encourages kids to grow up valuing respect and responsibility. 

 

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Not cleaning their room? It's their room. Who cares? Young kids definitely need discipline at times - just not 100% of the time.

I definitely care about a decent room, not perfect or spotless, but tidy. And yes, it's their room...but it's in my house. I know many don't care about kids cleaning their room or doing chores, but that's not me. And the whole "it's their room"... hmmm...have seen this concept taken to extremes that I am not comfortable with and I just don't understand, like some parents allowing their kids to do drugs in their room, as long as they don't do it anywhere else in the house. I know kids don't need discipline all the time, I never said that, but I do think that sometimes parental guidance is lacking :(
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I definitely care about a decent room, not perfect or spotless, but tidy. And yes, it's their room...but it's in my house. I know many don't care about kids cleaning their room or doing chores, but that's not me. And the whole "it's their room"... hmmm...have seen this concept taken to extremes that I am not comfortable with and I just don't understand, like some parents allowing their kids to do drugs in their room, as long as they don't do it anywhere else in the house. I know kids don't need discipline all the time, I never said that, but I do think that sometimes parental guidance is lacking :(

 

I've not known one single parent that takes "it's your room" to mean "you can do drugs". My dds do have a place that is their own in our home. I don't see that as a problem. I also don't think a clean room means anything in regards to parental guidance. At this moment my own room isn't as clean as either of my dds.

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Yes. And I am so tired.

 

But it does get better. The first thing that happened is that I decided that I would do my best to raise adults, but if that failed, I would get out of these 18 years alive and not in prison or with child neglect on my record.

 

That was all I could manage as a parent.

 

Not that I didn't want a relationship. I just... I couldn't do anything to convince them to want a relationship.

Read your entire post...wow. How very hard it must be to be a parent in such situation. I do hope some day there will be a relationship, just because there's not one right now it doesn't mean things can't change in the future. I wish you the very best in your parenting journey!!
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I've not known one single parent that takes "it's your room" to mean "you can do drugs". My dds do have a place that is their own in our home. I don't see that as a problem. I also don't think a clean room means anything in regards to parental guidance. At this moment my own room isn't as clean as either of my dds.

Not my room either! Life gets busy, I know. And yes, it is their room, but we kind of ask for tidiness (again, not perfection). People have different opinions in the clean room, that's OK. Used the drugs example just as an extreme example, was not trying to compare the situation. My point was that for us, just because it's their room doesn't mean we don't ask them to keep it tidy. Sadly I do have heard a few parents being OK with the drugs situation, it does make me scratch my head :(
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Tsuga, taking a dangerous object from a child is not "facism". FFS. If one can't use items safely or is endangering the safety of themselves or others, you do what you have to do. Calmly removing the danger while verbalizing the limit and risk is better for me than repeately asking for him to put it down. My son owns one knife, which was a gift from us on the completion of a Cub Scout goal. If he threw that around, he wouldn't be old enough or responsible enough to have a knife of his own. And certainly when he *was* dangerously getting into our knives, taking them from him before he stabbed something is not "removing his property". Again, FFS. When you escalate to calling me a facist, it's rather hard to take you seriously.

 

Truthfully, I'm not sure you know WHAT I even mean by gentle parenting. It's hands on, kind, respectful. We practice meditation, yoga, movement and anger managment techniques. I frequently dissipate things that would have been blow ups and even full blown crisis situations (like, call the ER level crisis) with these tactics. It's definitely not just doing nothing but explaining and explaining again. This mama ain't got time for that sh!t! It is not developmentally appropriate to explain, explain, explain to kids in certain stages. I do offer explainations, discuss things that are appropriate to discuss and take responsibility when I am in the wrong.

 

While I certainly can not comment on the mental health of your children, the extremes which you are describing would definitely make me consider evaluation if I was observing this in a child in my care. It's unclear to me if this is all or somewhat in the past or is current for you. If if it current, yeah, were I navigating this I would definitely look at the mental health or attachment issue pieces of the puzzle. And I do note that if it is totally current, it doesn't sound like you have found a solution that really works for you yet.

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I don't remember the last time I asked my dds to clean their rooms, but their rooms are clean. They are 13 and 15. When they were little, we made clean up a game, I was always there helping, and there were no issues. Now, sometimes their rooms do get messy but they always clean them up themselves without my asking. They do leave more trash/clutter around the living area than I would like but when they see me picking it up they get up, help, and apologize for not already doing it.

 

I don't feel I taught them so much as just worked with them from the very beginning. I'm also one of those parents who don't let meals/food be an issue. My dds have a say in what they eat and they do not have ot eat what I make. As teens now they pretty much always do, though, and they are adventurous eaters. When they were little, many told me I was wrong and they would stay picky.

 

Maybe I have very easy dds but it just seemed early on that things were easier for everyone if we talked and worked together. Along the way they've become people I really enjoy being around.

 

When I used to make it a game, my kids would say, "How about, instead of I pick up one thing and throw it in the basket and if I get it in, only you do it."

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I definitely care about a decent room, not perfect or spotless, but tidy. And yes, it's their room...but it's in my house. I know many don't care about kids cleaning their room or doing chores, but that's not me. And the whole "it's their room"... hmmm...have seen this concept taken to extremes that I am not comfortable with and I just don't understand, like some parents allowing their kids to do drugs in their room, as long as they don't do it anywhere else in the house. I know kids don't need discipline all the time, I never said that, but I do think that sometimes parental guidance is lacking :(

Like Joker, I know of no parents that take it to that extreme.

 

All family members in our home have shared responsibilities and chores. My sons probably do more chores than is typical for an average urban/non-farm family.

 

When their room gets too messy for them to be comfortable, they invariably clean it. They also know they have to clean up messes in shared spaces or the consequence is not getting to do messy activities like fort building and such in shared spaces. My sons are a bit of an odd couple, one neat and one messy so they learn from each other in their shared space. And of course they get guidance and they see us modeling good habits in our space. I don't think I am getting less desirable l results than my parenting peers do on average.

 

The other thing we do is that we have a family understanding that when you can't keep a space cleanish you have too much stuff for the space so we help them purge out the stuff they aren't using or have outgrown.

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Tsuga, taking a dangerous object from a child is not "facism". FFS. If one can't use items safely or is endangering the safety of themselves or others, you do what you have to do. Calmly removing the danger while verbalizing the limit and risk is better for me than repeately asking for him to put it down. My son owns one knife, which was a gift from us on the completion of a Cub Scout goal. If he threw that around, he wouldn't be old enough or responsible enough to have a knife of his own. And certainly when he *was* dangerously getting into our knives, taking them from him before he stabbed something is not "removing his property". Again, FFS. When you escalate to calling me a facist, it's rather hard to take you seriously.

 

Truthfully, I'm not sure you know WHAT I even mean by gentle parenting. It's hands on, kind, respectful. We practice meditation, yoga, movement and anger managment techniques. I frequently dissipate things that would have been blow ups and even full blow crisis situations with these tactics. It's definitely not just doing nothing but explaining and explaining again. This mama ain't got time for that sh!t! It is not developmentally appropriate to explain, explain, explain to kids in certain stages. I do offer explainations, discuss things that are appropriate to discuss and take responsibility when I am in the wrong.

 

While I certainly can not comment on the mental health of your children the extremes which you are describing would definitely make me consider evaluation if I was observing this is a child in my care. It's unclear to me if this is all or somewhat in the past or is current for you. If if it current, yeah, were I navigating this I would definitely look at the mental health or attachment issue pieces of the puzzle. And if note that if it is current, it doesn't sound like you have found a solution that really works for you yet.

 

To clarify, this was in the past. Ages 16 months to about 3.5. Then finally I started to see reason in their eyes. At eight obviously these behaviors would be too much and I would pursue therapy. At the time I considered it but pressed on, because my MIL and my mom both said those were behaviors they saw in many toddlers.

 

However, I will say that I don't understand why you don't like the word "obedience". When they are 18, you can no longer do grab from their hands (they are as strong or stronger) so you really are using physical force to get what you want if you do that when they are toddlers.

 

I am not calling you a fascist. I'm saying, I do that as well. I'm asking, how can you say you don't like the term "obedience" when part of your parenting involves grabbing things out of a child's hand, walking away, setting limits in which you take things away? How can you on the one hand say you don't instill obedience but on the other hand suggest it's just fine to use physical force or its implicit threat (not hitting, but presumably restraining if necessary) to remove an object?

 

 

What does "obey" or "gentle" even mean in that context?

 

To me, gentle discipline is a dialogue-based theory of parenting in which every child has rights equal to the parents. This did not work. The children were not naturally aware enough of the need for self-preservation or the feelings of others to have equal rights.

 

Obedience simply means complying with a request or demand. Some things I give, like "no throwing knives" are not requests. They are demands. Obey. Just--obey. I'm Hitler, say you, my child? I don't care. No throwing knives. That's asking for obedience. Even if there is no spanking, and there is no hurting, and there is no shouting and even if you explain, when you say there is no knife-throwing in your home, you are asking, IMO, for obedience.

 

So that's why I feel comfortable saying I don't really believe in gentle discipline for all children and I do believe that obedience is a necessary quality in many circumstances.

 

In the present, I am thrilled to say that once I stopped treating my children like humans and instead simply worked on providing a healthy, safe environment for them, screw gentle discipline, screw conversation, you get safety and food and education and if you don't like it you're free at 18, well, things started to get better. The hyperbole slowly faded away. The attention-seeking behavior (because the more dangerous, the longer we had to explain why it was wrong) slowly went away. Limits were like a relief to them.

 

My children are still extremely active, physical, and strong willed. But no, they are not toddlers and do not act that way. (The knife incidents were short and usually involved the dinner table.)

 

But being nice and talking through it and coming to mutual respect? No, I don't think those work until your children understand that the parents are the ones responsible for their physical safety and preparation for adulthood and there is a basic level of respect there.

 

First establish respect for others by modeling AND requiring respect, THEN you can move to this whole dialogue thing.

 

I brought these up not because of your examples, Katie, but because Sadie and albeto. pointed out that from a very young age, their small children  could be reasoned with and therefore they thought obedience training was not necessary.

 

Because you know. If only you just said, "Owie, that hurts" or "Oh no, the knife is sharp, please stop!" the child would see reason and stop.

 

I'm sure those kids are really lovely pleasant people now.

 

But that never worked with my kids, or me, or my cousins. We are all productive members of society now and many of us have great jobs. But I think most of us needed to learn some obedience as children. It had to be taught through lessons that went beyond explanations of why something was wrong and having us naturally agree.

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Thanks for taking the time to reply. 

 

I don't really disagree with anything you've written here.

 

Re the bolded, I think some posters feel that the parental role intrinsically involves teaching obedience. Therefore, if you don't teach it, you are abdicating your role. I feel the role involves guidance - and that too much emphasis on 'obeying' can obstruct the practice of guidance.

 

My favourite commentary on the exercise of authority comes from the Tao Te Ching: govern a state as you would cook a small fish - gently.

 

I'm quite sure it's advice also applicable to families :)

 

Charlotte Mason says something similar - authority is foundational to the parental or teaching relationship, but it isn't meant to be talked about a lot.  She compares it to wearing your underwear on the outside of your clothes.

 

I do think its important to talk about it a bit as kids grow up, because otherwise you seem to be claiming an arbitrary authority, and its also important for children to learn to think these things through clearly.  Kids that don't get this but are in a healthy environment may well grow up to operate really well both as citizens and leaders because they have seen it modeled, but I think it is better to be able to think about such things clearly.

 

I think actually this is what ElizaG and Illich were getting at.  If we don't acknowledge that this hierarchy exists openly, we are left with it never being really examined or the reasons for it made explicit.  We inevitably end up exercising the power it gives us, but then seem to be claiming that nothing is really going on.

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I definitely care about a decent room, not perfect or spotless, but tidy. And yes, it's their room...but it's in my house. I know many don't care about kids cleaning their room or doing chores, but that's not me. And the whole "it's their room"... hmmm...have seen this concept taken to extremes that I am not comfortable with and I just don't understand, like some parents allowing their kids to do drugs in their room, as long as they don't do it anywhere else in the house. I know kids don't need discipline all the time, I never said that, but I do think that sometimes parental guidance is lacking :(

 

We had two naturally messy younguns and one naturally clean youngun.  We gave up on the messy guys having a clean room somewhere in their elementary days.  We just had them room together and let the clean boy have his own room.

 

Now they are all grown up.  Both messy boys have naturally become more tidy, but it took going to college and/or getting girlfriends.   :lol:  I'm really glad I didn't stress about it in their youth personally.  For us, it was a battle that didn't need to be fought at all.

 

We actually even allowed ours to keep toys/games/puzzles out in our family room for long periods of time (weeks?) when they were in use daily or close to it.  Now that they are moved away I've found I miss some of their long, drawn out passions (sigh).

 

But I've certainly never been a clean or tidy needing person.  I prefer a house that's lived in and looks that way.  If anyone opts to visit without prior notification, that's their problem if clutter will bug them.

 

Mine never had knives to play with < age 5 or so, so taking a knife from them was never an issue.  They did have them in their elementary years so they could use them around the farm or practice whittling or similar.  There was never a problem.  They had BB guns too, but not before age 7 or 8 or so.

 

Mine have never used drugs because we explained to them (and showed them via documentaries and health articles) just what drugs do to their bodies.  I use the same info at school when the topic comes up.  At some point kids will make their own decisions on drugs and I want those decisions to be informed ones - not "Hey this is cool," or "Just say no."

 

The only parents I know who don't care if their younguns do drugs are those who do them themselves.   There's not much one is going to do about that.

 

All sorts of kids will use drugs, both compliant and non.  Their reasons for using them differ to some extent, but from what I've experienced, those of both types who are more educated on the nuts and bolts rather than sound bites are less likely to use them - that and having something else to occupy their lives, so they don't feel bored or a need to fit in with whatever crowd accepts them.

 

Regardless, I've seen kids from all kinds of parenting styles get hooked on drugs either in high school or college.  It's sad.  Except when the parent is also a user or dealer, I don't blame them for what happens.

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One question - if it's biological - in other words, innate knowledge or competence - a hierarchy module in the mental architecture, if you will - it doesn't need to be taught. Modules just exist and operate automatically.

 

Why then is there such an emphasis on explicit teaching of the hierarchy ? Teaching would seem to fit a more connectionist viewpoint, with children born a blank slate, and the learning coming to them from the environment.

 

I can see that it could be biological, I can see how it could be environmental - not sure I understand how it could be innate AND needing to be taught.

 

It's kind of interesting if it is biological - people who seek out non-hierarchical structures may simply have a variation in the mental architecture. I can see how evolution wise, it could even be selected for. The people with hierarchy modules may create the structure, and the people without may pull it down if it grows malign. 

 

We're cultural animals, learning animals, self-conscious animals. 

 

The higher social animals like wolves or dogs or horses, or other apes, all need to learn how to operate in their social hierarchies.  (We have a new puppy at home at the moment - it's interesting to see how the old dog teaches the pup.)  Dogs and horses that are kept away from groups while growing up are commonly unable to interact normally with their groups - they don't learn the rules, they tend to be too aggressive they can't read the body language. 

 

Experience can decide how the brain forms, although it will be within the biological scaffolding.  I think its true that different people have different basic tendencies or styles of doing things, and also I suspect some capacities become evident depending on the circumstances we encounter, or have encountered in the past.

 

The self-consciousness aspect is that unless we make our principles and behavior explicit, we don't know them in a self conscious way, and we can't think about them in terms of things like justice or ethics or whatever.  How could we talk about governance if we can't talk about the foundations of authority, for example?  And our most primal experiences of that will likely go back to our childhood experiences.

 

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My oldest dd needs to be told she needs to clean her room.  I'm pretty flexible, and not a neat freak by any means, but she is a sort of me x 10 - she doesn't much notice her surroundings at all.  She'll have all kinds of unwashed clothes in her bed, which causes me issues because we don't have a drier and sudden influxes of clothing muck up the system - she has glasses all over the place half-filled, and her floor gets actually grubby and grimy, and her clothes are mashed in the drawers and get holes.  And she will procrastinate endlessly.

 

Untidy is one thing, gross is another.

 

 

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They were lovely pleasant people back then as well.

 

Honestly, I've worked with a lot of neurotypical two year olds, and I don't recognise what you describe as typical toddler behaviour.

 

I think if you have extra challenges of whatever kind, discussion of what average parents do with their average kid is always going to be frustrating.

What you're saying is that if what worked for you doesn't work for me, there's something wrong with me.

 

I don't agree.

 

I know my kids are super strong, even atypical, but I don't think "not responding to dialogue at the age of two" is a sign of something wrong, just like not learning to read at five is not a sign of something wrong, and not being able to ride a bike at three is not a sign of something wrong.

 

There is nothing inherently wrong with needing to set firm explicit boundaries and preparing to enforce them (humanely, but firmly) if they are rejected.

 

There is something wrong with saying, my kid could do X, Y, and Z and if yours couldn't then yours has the problem.

 

Incidentally I did not mean to imply your kids were not lovely previously but that gentle discipline doesn't necessarily result in kids who don't get social norms. Some learn by example. Some by explanation. Still others learn by banging their heads against the wall.

 

I'm the wall.

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To clarify, this was in the past. Ages 16 months to about 3.5. Then finally I started to see reason in their eyes. At eight obviously these behaviors would be too much and I would pursue therapy. At the time I considered it but pressed on, because my MIL and my mom both said those were behaviors they saw in many toddlers.

 

However, I will say that I don't understand why you don't like the word "obedience". When they are 18, you can no longer do grab from their hands (they are as strong or stronger) so you really are using physical force to get what you want if you do that when they are toddlers.

 

I am not calling you a fascist. I'm saying, I do that as well. I'm asking, how can you say you don't like the term "obedience" when part of your parenting involves grabbing things out of a child's hand, walking away, setting limits in which you take things away? How can you on the one hand say you don't instill obedience but on the other hand suggest it's just fine to use physical force or its implicit threat (not hitting, but presumably restraining if necessary) to remove an object?

 

 

What does "obey" or "gentle" even mean in that context?

 

To me, gentle discipline is a dialogue-based theory of parenting in which every child has rights equal to the parents. This did not work. The children were not naturally aware enough of the need for self-preservation or the feelings of others to have equal rights.

 

Obedience simply means complying with a request or demand. Some things I give, like "no throwing knives" are not requests. They are demands. Obey. Just--obey. I'm Hitler, say you, my child? I don't care. No throwing knives. That's asking for obedience. Even if there is no spanking, and there is no hurting, and there is no shouting and even if you explain, when you say there is no knife-throwing in your home, you are asking, IMO, for obedience.

 

So that's why I feel comfortable saying I don't really believe in gentle discipline for all children and I do believe that obedience is a necessary quality in many circumstances.

 

In the present, I am thrilled to say that once I stopped treating my children like humans and instead simply worked on providing a healthy, safe environment for them, screw gentle discipline, screw conversation, you get safety and food and education and if you don't like it you're free at 18, well, things started to get better. The hyperbole slowly faded away. The attention-seeking behavior (because the more dangerous, the longer we had to explain why it was wrong) slowly went away. Limits were like a relief to them.

 

My children are still extremely active, physical, and strong willed. But no, they are not toddlers and do not act that way. (The knife incidents were short and usually involved the dinner table.)

 

But being nice and talking through it and coming to mutual respect? No, I don't think those work until your children understand that the parents are the ones responsible for their physical safety and preparation for adulthood and there is a basic level of respect there.

 

First establish respect for others by modeling AND requiring respect, THEN you can move to this whole dialogue thing.

 

I brought these up not because of your examples, Katie, but because Sadie and albeto. pointed out that from a very young age, their small children could be reasoned with and therefore they thought obedience training was not necessary.

 

Because you know. If only you just said, "Owie, that hurts" or "Oh no, the knife is sharp, please stop!" the child would see reason and stop.

 

I'm sure those kids are really lovely pleasant people now.

 

But that never worked with my kids, or me, or my cousins. We are all productive members of society now and many of us have great jobs. But I think most of us needed to learn some obedience as children. It had to be taught through lessons that went beyond explanations of why something was wrong and having us naturally agree.

Because I am not just grabbing it and walking away or grabbing something arbitrarily because I'm the parent and they need to obey. No judgment, no physical force, no punishment (but yes to consequences). It's just not an obedience based model.

 

FTR, when I did take things for obedience (vs safety) reasons, I ended up with situations in which most any onlooker would call the cops on my son. I can revisit those situations and see where I was part of escalating it. I've seen obedience driven parents escalate situations a lot.

 

You are assuming that both Sadie and Albeto or anyone else making similar points only have NT children. You don't know that. I am merely pointing out that proactive, gentle parenting does work for many kids that are by any metric difficult.

 

Catherine Stafford has written a number of books on the Nurtured Hearts approach to explosive and challenging children. If you are genuinely interested in how what I am saying is gentle parenting rather than hierarchal obedience based parenting, those books are a good resource.

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Untidy is one thing, gross is another.

Now ain't that the truth!

 

We don't have anything in bedrooms that can get gross. My kids can pretty much handle eating and picking up but my nephew and sometimes even my nieces will stuff half eaten oranges and juice cups behind the dresser or under the bunk beds. So we make the rule apply to everyone so as to not call him out. I rallied my older son to this by getting him to help me set a good example for his cousin.

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Nope. [/quote

Then can you explain? Because maybe we don't have the same idea of obedience.

 

I have seen, rarely, children hitting babies and parents reasoning with them. That is what my life was like before I decided that my daughter would not respond to reason.

 

Maybe you haven't seen the kids whose parents reason with them while they cut in line. And stay there. And the parent shrugs. "I explained, but I can't force him!" The parent says haplessly. But I have.

 

When you say you don't believe in obedience, I think a lot of people picture you shrugging haplessly as your child, free from consequences (because that requires force), refuses to see reason.

 

If you haven't had that experience I dare say this is truly a naive conversation. It's like someone who's never seen a bear explain how to train a bear based on their extensive dog training experience and firm belief that all the wild bears they've seen would have been just fine if only they'd been trained in some other way.

 

Or maybe you don't like the word obedience but you have no problem with asking a child who is biting to stop whether they like it or not, and removing the child, against their will, from the situation, if the child doesn't stop. In that case all I can say is that we agree completely that sometimes you don't get what you want and mommy makes you do it, tears or no tears, and if you want to call that gentle discipline or obedience training or what, it certainly isn't the child making reasonable decisions based on dialogue.

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Then can you explain? Because maybe we don't have the same idea of obedience.

 

I have seen, rarely, children hitting babies and parents reasoning with them. That is what my life was like before I decided that my daughter would not respond to reason.

 

Maybe you haven't seen the kids whose parents reason with them while they cut in line. And stay there. And the parent shrugs. "I explained, but I can't force him!" The parent says haplessly. But I have.

 

I believe you've seen this, but 'm not suggesting it. I'm not advocating it. I'm not even implying it.

 

When you say you don't believe in obedience, I think a lot of people picture you shrugging haplessly as your child, free from consequences (because that requires force), refuses to see reason.

 
I don't agree with the argument presented in this thread that the traditional hierarchical structure of the family [ie, father-knows-best, children are trained to comply in order to avoid negative consequences and/or access positive ones] is the pertinent variable with regard to the OP's query as to why "kids these days" don't show respect and responsibility (my phrasing). I think this argument can be clearly dismissed by such examples of families like Sadie's and Lucy's and mine, where children can and do develop socially appropriate values of cooperation, respect, responsibility, etc, without the use of conventional authoritarian family dynamics. Similarly, we might look to Duggar family and those like it for obvious examples of this established and respected hierarchy having been completely ineffective with regard to raising socially appropriate, respectful, responsible adults. It's like saying the problem with kids these days is no one drives Oldsmobiles any more, and a woman could walk on the sidewalk without worry back when men drove their families around in Oldsmobiles. Sure, there's correlation, but not causation. If social dynamics in our modern culture were that simple (authoritarian parenting), we wouldn't be having these conversations. We'd see evidence of this all over. We don't. We see evidence that conflicts with this argument. The argument itself is without merit. 
 
I don't know what you mean by "believe in" obedience, but for my part, I'm talking about a child learning the value of cooperating with the desires of another person as well as identifying and advocating for their own needs in effective and socially appropriate ways. I personally think cooperation is a more valuable approach for a family, whereas I think of obedience as something to be an effective structure for the military, or a complex work place. I suspect we have the same ultimate goal, we're just not referencing the same method to achieve it. As I mentioned upthread, I consider obedience and authority to refer to the method whereby one person or a select number of people have access to desired resources and others obey commands (first when asked, eventually predict them and take initiative to be obedient) in order to access those desired resources. That, in my opinion, is what punishment is - denial of resources (ie, tv, games, friends, etc). In my family, we don't deny resources. They're utterly irrelevant to interpersonal conflict other than establishing control, and I have an ethical problem with parenting via control like that.  
 

If you haven't had that experience I dare say this is truly a naive conversation. It's like someone who's never seen a bear explain how to train a bear based on their extensive dog training experience and firm belief that all the wild bears they've seen would have been just fine if only they'd been trained in some other way.

 
You have no idea what experiences I have, and you likely won't. I don't mean to be to be evasive or dismissive to you, or to give the impression I don't respect you or your questions, but this is no longer my story to share. It belongs to my kids, and I want to respect their privacy regarding when, and with whom to share it. Nevertheless, I don't believe that specific, personal examples are necessary to discuss such concepts as human behavior, cause and effect (learning consequences), internalizing messages, and meta-lessons learned over the years. 
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Like Joker, I know of no parents that take it to that extreme.

 

All family members in our home have shared responsibilities and chores. My sons probably do more chores than is typical for an average urban/non-farm family.

 

When their room gets too messy for them to be comfortable, they invariably clean it. They also know they have to clean up messes in shared spaces or the consequence is not getting to do messy activities like fort building and such in shared spaces. My sons are a bit of an odd couple, one neat and one messy so they learn from each other in their shared space. And of course they get guidance and they see us modeling good habits in our space. I don't think I am getting less desirable l results than my parenting peers do on average.

 

The other thing we do is that we have a family understanding that when you can't keep a space cleanish you have too much stuff for the space so we help them purge out the stuff they aren't using or have outgrown.

I like that understanding!! We apply it too if things get too out of control. I wish my kids were more orderly, it's not too bad, but if I don't assign keeping their room tidy as a chore they just won't. Maybe someday?
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My oldest dd needs to be told she needs to clean her room. I'm pretty flexible, and not a neat freak by any means, but she is a sort of me x 10 - she doesn't much notice her surroundings at all. She'll have all kinds of unwashed clothes in her bed, which causes me issues because we don't have a drier and sudden influxes of clothing muck up the system - she has glasses all over the place half-filled, and her floor gets actually grubby and grimy, and her clothes are mashed in the drawers and get holes. And she will procrastinate endlessly.

 

Untidy is one thing, gross is another.

Yes!!!! Same with my oldest!! And probably the other ones if I allowed cups and food upstairs. My room might not be as clean as I'd like to, but it's not gross. I am afraid if I didn't have my kids clean their room it'd be really gross, and that I can't take.
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We had two naturally messy younguns and one naturally clean youngun. We gave up on the messy guys having a clean room somewhere in their elementary days. We just had them room together and let the clean boy have his own room.

 

Now they are all grown up. Both messy boys have naturally become more tidy, but it took going to college and/or getting girlfriends. :lol: I'm really glad I didn't stress about it in their youth personally. For us, it was a battle that didn't need to be fought at all.

 

We actually even allowed ours to keep toys/games/puzzles out in our family room for long periods of time (weeks?) when they were in use daily or close to it. Now that they are moved away I've found I miss some of their long, drawn out passions (sigh).

 

But I've certainly never been a clean or tidy needing person. I prefer a house that's lived in and looks that way. If anyone opts to visit without prior notification, that's their problem if clutter will bug them.

 

Mine never had knives to play with < age 5 or so, so taking a knife from them was never an issue. They did have them in their elementary years so they could use them around the farm or practice whittling or similar. There was never a problem. They had BB guns too, but not before age 7 or 8 or so.

 

Mine have never used drugs because we explained to them (and showed them via documentaries and health articles) just what drugs do to their bodies. I use the same info at school when the topic comes up. At some point kids will make their own decisions on drugs and I want those decisions to be informed ones - not "Hey this is cool," or "Just say no."

 

The only parents I know who don't care if their younguns do drugs are those who do them themselves. There's not much one is going to do about that.

 

All sorts of kids will use drugs, both compliant and non. Their reasons for using them differ to some extent, but from what I've experienced, those of both types who are more educated on the nuts and bolts rather than sound bites are less likely to use them - that and having something else to occupy their lives, so they don't feel bored or a need to fit in with whatever crowd accepts them.

 

Regardless, I've seen kids from all kinds of parenting styles get hooked on drugs either in high school or college. It's sad. Except when the parent is also a user or dealer, I don't blame them for what happens.

Oh yes, our house is very lived in. Someone brought up the difference between messy and cross, and I think that's when the line is drawn for me. I can handle messy and lived in, anytime, but gross I just can't do. I am afraid if I didn't have my kids work in their rooms it would become gross :(
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I don't know of any kids doing drugs in their bedroom, even the ones with permissive parents.

We have known of a couple. Makes me so sad!! No sure where or how that falls within parenting, I just don't understand it.

ETA: and one of them became a dealer at a very young age. His brother wasn't into that, but dd and friends noticed the stink when they rarely went to their house, so it wasn't only his bedroom. Just a very sad and confusing situation :(

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With "my house, my rules" comments, it occurs to me that I've never lived in my own house.

 

Maybe one day. :)

We are the type that need rules. Not a military environment, but we need them. Otherwise I am not sure how my house would look, and my ds would probably make it a football field? If allowed he'd practice baseball and football inside since it's hot out there :)
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