What I’m Reading
However, there were also parts I feel missed the mark. One thing that kept taking me out of the book was the plethora of “kids these days” and “parents these days” statements. In The Myth of the Spoiled Child, Alfie Kohn provides example after example of how the “kids these days” argument has been made for literally centuries. Members of every generation in history have always grumbled about the younger generations, all the way back to the eighth century B.C.E. Frankly this is a tired argument, and if it isn’t supported with data, I’m inclined to dismiss it immediately.
Early on in the book, she provides an example of a monologue between a five year old girl and her father. As in so many parenting books, the monologue follows this equation: daughter says something disrespectful when she’s upset, dad tells her not to, daughter stops, calms down, and expresses herself more appropriately.
Does it ever actually go this way at your house? Kudos to you if it does. That’s not how it happens at my house, and I think that’s pretty normal. It takes a bit more than saying, “Sweetie you can’t call me mean” for my son to calm down and express himself effectively.
I find unrealistic scenarios like this frustrating because they either make a book unrelatable or cause readers to feel like they’re doing everything wrong. In reality, there are no magic words you can say to make a five year old instantly rational and compliant. That’s just not how that works.
The great thing about this book is that it challenged me to consider my values and perspective on topics like consequences, rewards, and what it means to be a brave parent. For that I'm grateful.
“Frequently when parents are reacting to situations, behaviors, or events, they are frantically searching for solutions outside of themselves and reaching for quick fixes, instead of consulting with their own truths or intuitions” (Page 45).
“In parenting you could say equanimity is stepping off your child’s emotional rollercoaster - remaining calm, despite whatever behavior your child chooses. Consistent, collected responses from their parents create safety and reliability for kids and allow them to form their own independent thoughts” (Page 101).
“When parents relate to their children with an awareness of their own feelings, chances are they are more likely to be present and accepting of their child’s feelings” (Page 131).