listens to their child.
talks openly about difficult subjects.
tries to build a child's self-esteem
creates elaborate tongue-twisters to reprimand their children. Such as: "Walking on a fence post can cause injury and I worry about you." Rather than: "Get your fat ass down from there."
is generally exhausted because their children practice what they preach and therefore endlessly negotiate things like another glass of water.

I think that I count as a new-school parent on crank.

My kids are my equals. No...I mean really! Their opinions and feelings are every bit as important as my own. Their perceptions of reality are just as valid as mine are. I don't reprimand my children for breaking my rules (elaborate tongue twisters or not), because the only rules we have are those to which we all agree. This doesn't make everyone perfectly nice all the time, but at least we don't have any power struggles. I do sometimes rebuke my kids (as I would with other very close adults) when they hurt my feelings.

I understand that parents owe a debt to their kids for opting to bring them into the world, but kids are born with no reciprocal responsibilities. Debt is something you must opt into.

Respect isn't something you can force, and to try to do so ensures that true respect will never form. The only coin with which you can buy your children's respect is to respect them first. Familial respect is always a mutual relationship.

Self esteem is a funny topic that I believe is deeply misunderstood. You can't do anything in particular to boost the self-esteem of your kids. Telling them how nice, beautiful, wonderful, talented, good, or moral they are can only harm them. Telling them how good some project or piece of work is, is similarly dangerous, but better. Honest appraisals are better than mindless praise. Descriptive comments free of assessment are usually better yet. There are two ways to help boost the self-esteem of your kids: 1) help them attain skills, and 2) get off their backs.

I don't need to endlessly negotiate trivia. My kids can get up and get whatever they want and it has nothing to do with me. Beyond that, the fulfillment of many desires that family member experiences, can cost money. Each member of our family receives a monetary allowance every month on payday. That money is to be spent when and how the individual wants to without input from other family members. Anything beyond that is up for discussion since it has to come from the family budget. At six years old, my son understood that we could buy lots of cool toys by not making our mortgage payment, but that about six months later, we'd be kicked out of our home with no place to live. We agree that we should pay our note each month. Our consensus is to pay all the bills that our lifestyle requires. The great thing about this is that my son will have years and years of thinking about bills and operating a monthly budget before he ever considers going at it on his own. He prefers to not be bogged down with the administrivia of paying bills every month, so we take care of it, but he stays aware and knows how to read our family balance sheet.

Since we don't have rules, or a power inequity, we don't have punishment. It isn't even a construct in our house. You can't know how liberating that is until you've experienced it. A natural outgrowth of this is that when someone (adult or kid) does something harmful to another person, it is left completely on his or her conscience to remedy the damage. In the traditional power relationship, the authority hands out a punishment, which abrogates the need of the perpetrator to correct the harm. With no punishment structure, these occasional harms stand naked for everyone to see until corrected.

I've been called irresponsible for not providing a stronger influence in the lives of my children, but I know better. I know that my children allow me to be a stronger influence than most parents ever get to be, because my kids are free to choose. I know that my children really listen to and think about my stance on both philosophical and practical issues. Whether playground morality or civil disobedience at school, because they aren't being preached at or judged, they know that I'm just giving them the best information that I can.

I've been told that I'm spoiling my children by not imposing rigorous consequences. This misunderstanding of 'spoiling' is rooted in two false notions. The first of these is that spoiling (i.e. ruining) kids is the result of letting them do too much -- giving them too much freedom. The second misunderstanding is thinking that the universe doesn't impose sufficient consequences already. The kids that we think of as spoiled - the ones who seem to feel entitled to anything they want including, most perniciously, your labor -- got that way by having too much done for them, not by simply having too much. We have finite time in this world and there are very few valid claims on that time. You do owe your kids some time, but not all of it. And doing everything for them teaches them to expect that to continue and prevents them from learning to help themselves. As for consequences, clearly, the universe does impose consequences for which children can't hate you. It is simple truth that if you are rude to people, they won't want to be around you. You don't need to slap them for it. It is simple truth that if you steal, the law will penalize you. You don't need to ground them for it. But at the same time, it's fine for you to convey the loss of respect for them that you experience when they steal. If there is a behavior for which there are no natural consequences, then what's your problem with it?

I treat my kids the way I would treat an adult family member. If they don't know something, I am a resource. If they are in trouble, I can help. If they need someone to bodily assist them with a danger, then I am there for them.

Am I a new-school parent? I'm certainly not old-school.

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