Monday, July 14, 2008

Other Parents

How and should one attempt to convince other parents that behaviourism is ineffective and detrimental in parenting?

Every time I hear "If you do that again, you won't get any chocolate!" I want to try to tell the parent that they nobody wins with such threats. I suspect that there is not much I can say without alienating and offending, which of course would not help anyone.

What do you think?
-- Willow

Honestly? I think it is more productive to focus on the positive changes we can make in our own lives than it is to hone in on the mistakes others are making. Often, I think, we notice things in others that we are bothered by in ourselves. Maybe you’ve moved beyond blatant threats, but it might be worthwhile to look closely at the ways that behaviorism still exerts a subtle grip on your thinking. Or maybe not.

Another thing to consider is simply this: what is it you are wanting – to share your own excitement about ideas that make sense to you? To offer a ray of hope to another parent? To gloat? To articulate your beliefs? To help a child? If you’re clear about your own intentions and desires, it might be easier to find ways forward that will be truly productive and satisfying for you.

At this point in my own journey, I think that setting out to convince others is often a mistake – a misdirection of energy and attention. It makes more sense to me to keep looking closely at our own issues, our own shortcomings, our own successes. To keep building our own lives. If our ideas are as good as we believe them to be, then living by them will indirectly impact many, many other people.

I hope something here proves useful, or at least interesting!

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