Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Parenting with Love and Logic: A review

from Amazon

The controversy:
People on amazon.com were pretty upset about this book. This took me by surprise because the classroom version of this book seemed pretty not-controversial. But apparently the authors put out a first edition that was full-on crazy. Not only did they advocate spanking, but they encouraged parents to make sure it hurt. {btw, anyone who doesn’t understand why that is a big deal, some new research just came about why spanking is a BAD, BAD, BAD idea. So please don’t do it.} And they had this whole recommendation for staging your child’s abduction from the grocery store as a “logical” consequence for not staying near you. The whole thing is sort of reminiscent of Baby Wise and their second edition where they tried to be like, “just kidding about starving your baby! I guess the American Academy of Pediatrics frowns upon Failure to Thrive and neonatal dehydration.” This time around the L&L authors tried to be pretty explicit that child abuse is wrong. So yeah, that happened.
The parts that are still crazy:
First of all, the authors have probably not even seen a real-life toddler in thirty or forty years. Their advice for the 0-3 demographic leaves a lot to be desired. Case in point, pacifiers. This is not even a parody, what you are about to read is straight out of the book:

In the past, did children walk around with a nipple in their mouth? No more than adults walked around with a lit weed and smoke coming out their noses. During the early critical times of brain development, pacifiers lock in neural connections that essentially tell a child, "get frustrated, get bored, get fussy, and handle it by putting something in your mouth"...Once a child gets used to a pacifier, it becomes almost an addiction {ed note: almost an addiction? is that like almost pregnant? addiction is a pretty complicated issue, I'm sure the authors read something about it once. or maybe saw something on TV? or know someone who knows something? seems legit.}. The child wants that pacifier like an alcoholic wants the bottle- and on a neurobiological level, both responses may be related." Tell your toddler: "honey, it looks as if you are into sucking your pacifier right now, and I'm sure it feels super-good to you, but it is a hassle to my eyeballs, so I will appreciate it if you practice it up in your room. When you get it out of your system, will you join us again."
I don’t even know where to begin. I will start by reiterating that they did, in fact, just call your child’s paci a gateway drug. They did, in fact, compare your toddler with a paci to a dude smoking weed and an alcoholic. They even tried to throw some “neurobiology” at you. Guess what? Anything that activates the reward center of the brain (food, affection, etc.), it is related on a neurobiological level to alcohol and drug consumption. Because a part of your brain reacts the same way to something on one level {hint: your brain is a little too complex for these stupidly general statements} does not mean those things are, in fact, identical or should be treated identically. And here is something else, let’s consider for a moment that putting things in your mouth and sucking on them is a developmentally appropriate behavior of a toddler. Then that means they will eventually outgrow it, like crawling and babbling. What is more, if you throw that paragraph {starting with "honey,"} at a toddler with a paci, you obviously do not converse much with two-year olds. They probably stopped listening to you about five words in.

Next, is their advice on being responsive to your young child’s needs. Again, I’m not making this up:
Two toddlers, "Thoughtful" and "Thug" want to be picked up. They raise their hands and scream demandingly at their parents. Thug's parents pick him up. In essence, they say, "Be obnoxious with me and you'll get your way." However, when Thoughtful raise her hand and screams, her father says, without anger or sarcasm, "Thoughtful, why don't you lie down on the linoleum? I can't pick you up when you act like that." Thoughtful learns right away to say, as politely as possible, "Daddy, will you please pick me up?
Congrats on your young child’s mastery of complete sentences! It sounds like your thoughtful neglect approach is also great for receptive and expressive language development {oddly enough, that was not my understanding of the literature on language acquisition}. Or perhaps, you are totally unfamiliar with very young children? And I almost forgot; you called one of the toddlers, “Thug.” 

Also, the authors state that "consequences don't have to be immediate...or doled out on the spot to be effective. In fact, they are most effective after a child thinks they have gotten away with inappropriate behavior." This may or may not be true for older kids. It is entirely inappropriate for younger kids. If you give a toddler consequences days or even hours later, you’re probably just making yourself look like a jerk because your toddler has no idea why you are punishing them.
Final proof that this book is not developmentally appropriate for dealing with young children: time outs. The book recommends that "once the child has demonstrated four or five consecutive minutes of calm behavior, he or she returns to the family." This might or might not be appropriate for a teenager. But the general guidance is one minute for each year of your child’s life. So four or five consecutive minutes of calm is already too long for anyone under the age of five.
As far as I can tell, they removed any language about staging your child’s kidnapping. They did a 180 on the issue of spanking. They seemed to soften some other parts too, but obviously, I downloaded this book {for free!} on my kindle last night and skimmed it while the girls were asleep. This isn’t going to be an exhaustive list of where they are still wrong. But a few issues did strike me as bizarre. They recommend withholding dinners from your child on nights the child doesn’t feed their pet and you have to feed it for him/her {personally, I feel pretty strongly that food should NEVER be used as a reward or a punishment. More on that later}. Then they recommend giving the pet away. This is outside of my expertise, as I clearly have not given my one- or two-year old any pets, but why don’t you have your kid prove their responsibility in a more humane way before moving on to a dog? And all I could think was Billy Madison: Whoa whoa whoa, Miss Lippy. The part of the story I don't like is that the little boy gave up looking for Happy after an hour. He didn't put posters up or anything, he just sat on the porch like a goon and waited. That little boy's gotta think “you got a pet. You got a responsibility.” For real, guys. For real.
Finally, there were just some bizarre examples of using “humor” to get through to your kids. Two examples were telling kids if they didn’t behave in the car, you’d make them get out and walk. Just like their older brother who the kids never met because he is still missing from the time they kicked him out of the car for misbehaving. For some reason, that didn’t strike me as hilarious. Also, they told the story of a guy whose brain literally turned to mush from watching too much TV. And it was a sort of graphic and frightening (to a kid, especially) explanation. Also weird.
Good Points
Despite this weirdness, there were some good points. They weren’t as funny or shocking so I saved them for the end.
They gave some good guidance on how to talk to your kids when they are misbehaving. They strongly discourage telling the child to "stop that right now!" because that is not enforceable and it means is that “the parent will have to act if the behavior continues.” That is useful advice because who hasn’t seen a parent tell a kid not to do something, the kid doesn’t listen, and then everyone {kid included} is sitting there watching the parent for their next move. It usually isn’t pretty. They advocate giving kids realistic and safe choices. They go on to say “never give a child an order you cannot make him or her follow. Tell your child what you wish he or she would do rather than give an order. Give a completed ‘I message’: ‘I would appreciate you going to your room now so I can feel better about you and me.’ Sometimes when a request is given, it is wise to thank the child in advance, anticipating compliance.” They advise against showing your kid how frustrated you are; that sort of attention and reaction can reinforce negative behavior. They also emphasize the importance of being empathetic. So don’t gloat or be a jerk when you give consequences. All good ideas.
The book is also pretty readable. {Unlike Playful Parenting, which feels even more like a stream-of-consciousness ramble in comparison to Parenting with L&L.} They break down the last part into short chapters responsive to specific parenting needs. Like the chapter on pacifiers and how they will turn your kid into a drug dealer. So it is a mixed blessing.
In conclusion, don’t waste your money. But if you have a kindle, you don’t have to! You will only be wasting your time...



  1. This is one that I wanted to read. I think that I will skip it now!

  2. I read this book also a while back. I don't remember the part about staging a kidnapping. Although I have to say that some of the "scenarios" in the book did not ring true to real life at all. One example was about the 5 year old that kept making his mother late for work because he wouldn't get dressed, then she found a solution that she was going to leave at the time she needed to whether he was dressed or not. He could just finish dressing himself in the car. The thought I kept having was "what about breakfast?" Does he not eat in the morning & wouldn't you physically have to carry the kid that's still groggy and in his pajamas. It just didn't seem very realistic to me. However, I did like the suggestions about asking questions rather than constantly barking orders. I also liked how it suggested to feel sympathy for your children when they make a bad choice rather than getting angry at them. The book did also give me a new perspective on the issues of letting your children choose their own hair style/clothes/etc. as they get older. I like how it talked about if it doesn't affect you, then you shouldn't try to control it.

  3. I totally know what you mean. Some parts were useful, but I remember a similar scenario in the book with a SAHM. They said if your kid sleeps through the bus and expects you to take him, don't. and make him stay out of your way and pay for a babysitter if you have to run errands, and then don't write him an excuse for school. I was like, yeah, good luck with your truancy charges.

  4. I have to say, your review is taking parts of the book to a whole other level and your review is going above and beyond any logic to what the book has to offer.