Unplugged Mom: Fixing All Parenting in the World

I was very pleased to co-host the first hour of a live call-in episode of Freedomain Radio with Stefan Molyneux.  This exciting event took place on May 20th, 2012 .   We discussed parenting challenges, questions, observations and I shared some of my experience, insights and information.

We certainly did not fix all parenting as Stefan joked, but we did have a great conversation.  Questions were submitted regarding chores, allowance, behavior, diet and more.  It was another fabulous time with the wonderful Mr. Molyneux.

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avatar About the Author: Laurette Lynn is the Unplugged Mom© Founder of UnpluggedMom.com and Host and founder of Unplugged Mom Radio© Learn more about Laurette Lynn by clicking here.

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  1. avatar Tinas3muskateers says:

    Laurette,

    After listening to this show my mind is a buzz even more than it was prior to me listening in. I have always been a true believer in give a child the tools and information and let them make the choices however that is backfiring on me with my youngest. He will go without bathing, brushing teeth, changing clothing, doing school work, and eat. He chooses to none of these things for the most part(he will eat pizza). Last night I had it. I forced him into the tub, brushed his teeth for him, and I did not allow him to choose anymore. He is 8 so he understands that he needs to be clean, teeth included, and he just doesn’t care. At least that is what he tells me (and I quote “does this face look like it cares”) EVERYTHING that is important to do he battles me on, ok well he battles me on EVERYTHING, so I try to pick my battles. I thought the bath thing and teeth thing would have a natural consequence ( friends think he is stinky, he looks grubby, bad breath, cavities) but none of those things has forced him to make good choices. We are home educating this fall and I really and terrified that he will run me like a race and I wont stand a chance. We all ready know he hates learning or what he thinks is school, to him its all one in the same. He is nasty to me, mean to everyone, and is generally an unhappy kid. I really do not know how to handle the situation anymore.
    So as much as I would like to think this natural parenting works for kids, I would have to say it works for some kids… apparently not mine.

  2. @Tinas3muskateers,

    I admit I feel frustrated just reading your post. I imagine if I am feeling that, your son might be as well. Children do what they do to meet unmet needs. It sounds like you’ve had a “power-over” relationship with your son for a long time and then you offered him some choices with an ulterior motive in mind- That he’ll still do what you want. That isn’t respecting his needs and his choices. When he didn’t do what you wanted, you decided to overpower him again (it sounds like with violence) and, against his will you forced your will onto him. That is not Attachment Parenting or treating your son with love. I can see why he is angry at you.

    What are your son’s needs? That is primary. Basic hygiene is a developmental issue that most children aren’t interested in assuming until the mid- to even late teens. Setting up a daily schedule for hygiene that everyone in the house follows can cover that. Before he is willing to be on board with your schedule or agenda, however, you must meet his needs first and work on repairing the relationship. A punitive, violent, over-powering way with your son is a guarantee that he will become more angry, defiant and uncooperative with you as he gets older. If you believe your approach will “teach him” to have good hygiene and respect, I assure you it will teach him the opposite.

    Meeting his needs, a strong mother-son loving connection and respectful, nonviolent communication and discussion are key. You say this “natural parenting doesn’t work for your kid”- You aren’t doing natural parenting. What you described is ambivalent and aggressive mainstream parenting. The fact that he was in school all this time is also a testimony to damage he’s sustained from that violent, power-over system. Natural parenting is how children were intended by nature to be parented. I recommend reading more about it in my book, “Instead of Medicating and Punishing”

    -Laurie A. Couture

    • avatar Tinas3muskateers says:

      Laurie,

      I disagree here. I have always given him the choice to bath or not to, to brush his teeth or not to, he can choose what he eats and does not eat, he chooses to sleep with me, I do not force him out of his bed, I nursed for over 2 years and I never turned him away, I personally have never forced him to sit down and learn anything, I have tried to offer him books, to write letters to cousins or friends, etc but never forced work on him. He did go to school, out of necessity and now he is home. I have never punished him for not doing any of these things. But when you child has worn the same outfit 4 days in a row, his teeth are yellow, his hair is untamed and dirty, there comes a point that I as a parent who has been around much longer than him has to step in and say hey you need to be doing these things. Or do you suggest I just let him be dirty and make all his own choices, even ones that are not healthy for him?

  3. avatar Tinas3muskateers says:

    I also want to add, that when Isaiah was 3 and 4 years old we attended a very democratic Montessori school, that I worked at. Following that he was home educated until out of necessity I had to place him in school and now that our family dynamic as sorted out we are able to home school again, and we are. Not ever situation is a as black and white as you describe it. There are gray areas in life.

  4. Tina,
    Cut yourself some slack. Don’t try to be the packaged version of “Natural Parent”. Honestly, when we deny our instinct we are not being “natural” at all. You and your son have had a hell of a time the last couple of years. Take some time to decompress.

    This is a hot topic for me so I’ll write about it soon as I’m inspired to do so. But for now, know this:

    I read once by one of these goofy writers that we should talk to our children the same way we talk to our spouse, with respect. I can agree with that, certainly every being deserves respect. And I can agree that I should talk to my kids no differently than I talk to my husband.

    When I wore a pair of shorts recently that didn’t exactly flatter me, my husband said “Don’t wear those anymore, they are frumpy and make you look fat”. He tells it like it is to my kids in the same way.

    Not too long ago, my 9 year old skipped brushing his teeth for a couple of days. I wasn’t keeping track, just sorta expecting things to get done as they should. Then I noticed when his breath stank and his teeth looked cruddy. I didn’t make any demands, I didn’t ‘leave it up to him’ either. I said “Dude! You’re breath is rank and your teeth look yellow! They are going to rot out of your head! You should probably go brush them!” He shrugged and said “I’ll do it later” I said “Uh, well I’m not taking you to baseball like that, it’s disgusting. AND I don’t have all sorts of money laying around to fix your face when your teeth rot so I suggest you take care of that.”
    So, ultimately it was still HIS choice, but I was very clear about the importance of it. I didn’t say “Okay honey bunny sweetums, it’s totally up to you what you do with your body” And I didn’t say “You get in there and brush those teeth now rawr!”
    And let me tell you, I will and have spoken to my husband the same way. Like when he has one too many cigars and wants a kiss I say “Yick! No, you stink!”
    I’m not dictacting, but I’m not being a little wuss ass either. I am who I am and they are who they are and that’s that.
    That is really the key of it as I see it Tina. We must respect our kids for who they are, yes. But we can’t sacrifice who WE are in order to do that.

    If clean teeth and hygene are important and you know it, there is a way to communicate that, and make it happen without dictating, without forcing and also without being a run-over. KWIM?

    That said, give yourself time to find your groove with Isiah. It won’t happen over night, but it will happen. Spend time playing and goofing and especially talking with him about what he likes, dislikes, and etc… get to know him. Also, talk to him about YOU, and let him get to know YOU as Tina, more than “mom”. That will help tremendously.

    When I told my son his breath was rank and his teeth may rot out of his face, he didn’t get hurt, he didn’t cry, he didn’t feel disrespected. Why? Because he KNOWS ME. He chuckled and said “alright Ma, I’ll go clean up”. Simple.

    I don’t consider myself a “natural parent” or an “unnatural parent”. I consider myself Laurette, wife to my husband and Mom of J, D and B. ;-)

    • avatar Tinas3muskateers says:

      Have I ever mentioned how much I love you and how awesome you are! I am very lucky to have run into you in this large internet world. I always do tell him your breath is stank you should go take care of that, or I can see food in your teeth and you are going to get a cavity you do have a tooth brush… so like you I am not oh sweetie its your body your choice, totally not but he is very set in his way.

      On a good note, he is reading for me. And he is enjoying it, it happened over night. It was like i removed him from school and a light went off. It’s pretty exciting. Today for the first time he willingly read to me. I am using the Abeka books.

      Not only was he reading but he was reading with expression, happy at the happy parts, sad and low toned in the sad parts, when it was a question he read it as if it was a question… I wanted to cry!