Parenting is a weighty and difficult thing, as education consultant Jim Fay and psychiatrist Foster Cline know well. There are numerous different approaches, none of which provide a guaranteed outcome. The best one however, according to Fay and Cline, is one that teaches children responsibility through making choices and reaping the consequences of those choices while they still have the warm, loving safety net of their parents under them.
Love & Logic teaches parents how to allow their children to make those choices, even from a very young age. As children make their choices (Ex: do you want to wear your coat or carry it to the car with you?), logical consequences will follow (if they don’t wear their coat in the snow, they will probably get cold), and they will learn from that choice.
When a child makes a poor or foolish choice, the parent’s job is to show empathy for the child and to support them as they work through the difficult situation they then face. However, the parents must do this without removing the natural consequences for their child. To save their child from all the consequences of their actions is not love, because it deprives them of the opportunity to learn.
One of the key ideas that Love & Logic teaches is that parents “must set firm, loving limits using enforceable statements” (p. 57). Parents are not supposed to allow their child unlimited freedom, nor are they to be strict authoritarians, making all of their children’s choices for them. Instead, parents must give their children plenty of age appropriate freedom, then allow their children to face the fallout of their own actions. Cline and Fay call this “learning opportunities–at low price tags!”
Every parenting book and method should be taken with a grain (or two or three) of salt, and Parenting with Love & Logic is no exception. Some of the practical application vignettes seem manipulative, harsh, or ungracious. Fay and Cline’s parenting methodology sometimes makes the mistake of prioritizing the parent’s convenience or happiness above the character or spiritual well-being of the child.
However, the main principles contained in Love & Logic are solid gold. My husband and I have already employed Love & Logic parenting in many situations with our children, especially our four-year-old son. We’ve learned to dictate less and allow our children to learn from their actions more.
To give a small example… I asked my son to clean up his toys the other day. He protested and whined, and I responded by giving him a choice. He could pick up the toys himself, or I could pick them up for him. However, if I spent the time to pick them up for him, I wouldn’t have time to read him a bedtime story. He thought about it, and proceeded to clean up his toys.
Parenting with Love & Logic is an easy, straightforward read with plenty of thought-provoking ideas on teaching our children responsibility and empathy. Cline and Fay provide a wide variety of practical examples for applying their methods in day-to-day situations. Love & Logic parenting method is not perfect (what parenting method is?). It would be best used in conjunction with more connected, grace-based parenting (see my post on my other favorite parenting books), but it is a valuable resource and a wonderful tool for any parent’s “tool-belt”.