At Sojourn, we advocate for comprehensive and compassionate parenting, and denounce conditional or aggressive parenting. With this in mind, we were obviously thrilled to see a Alfie Kohn's article on unconditional parental love in the New York Times.
As analyzed by Alfie Kohn in his article, "When a Parent’s ‘I Love You’ Means ‘Do as I Say’ ", two recent parenting books by Phil McGraw of the talk show "Dr. Phil" and Jo Frost of "Suppernanny" tell readers that what children need or enjoy should be offered contingently, turned into rewards to be doled out or withheld so they “behave according to your wishes.” And, as stated by Dr. Phil, “one of the most powerful currencies for a child,” he adds, “is the parents’ acceptance and approval.”
Likewise, Jo Frost of “Supernanny,” in her book of the same name (Hyperion, 2005), says, “The best rewards are attention, praise and love,” and these should be held back “when the child behaves badly until she says she is sorry,” at which point the love is turned back on.
Kohn asks, Should parental love be used as a tool for controlling children? At Sojourn we respond with a resounding NO.
Kohn agrees. Instead of conditional parenting, Kohn suggests that unconditional parenting is far superior, "In practice, according to an impressive collection of data by Dr. Deci and others, unconditional acceptance by parents as well as teachers should be accompanied by “autonomy support”: explaining reasons for requests, maximizing opportunities for the child to participate in making decisions, being encouraging without manipulating, and actively imagining how things look from the child’s point of view."
At Sojourn, we are always pleased to hear further proof that nonviolent, compassionate, and unconditional parenting continues to be widely supported and we hope that misled writers (we are looking at you Dr. Phil and Suppernanny!) will take the time to read the studies cited by Kohn.
Read the full text: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/15/health/15mind.html?_r=3&src=twt&twt=nytime