Monday, 12 November 2018

Why No Child Should Ever Be Asked to Obey This Command
I saw it again on a movie yesterday, after having discussed it with a friend just a day or two before: the worst possible reason to do anything is “which human is asking.”

Specifically, the worst possible reason to do anything is ‘because it is your mother asking.’

Or your father, great-uncle, your pastor or your future self from 2289…

First, because it is the thinnest end of the desperate argument-to-comply that there is before you are utterly gutted of reasons and say ‘because I said so.’

Second, because guilt trips are so 1990. You didn’t like them, your kids will hate them, too.

And, finally, because in a climate of respect and mutual kind regard, cooperation is requested not required.

Cooperation is encouraged, not enforced

It is not cooperative or respectful to demand other people do things because of your status alone, rather than something sensible like ‘it’s a good idea’ or ‘because I think I can give you a compelling argument to agree that it is a good idea’ or even ‘because it is a good idea.’

Frankly, if you can’t even come up with a single sensible reason for someone to comply, clearly in the same position as them you would not do it. So, why, by the heart of any living creature beating, would anyone else do it?
Seriously, just stop.

If the only thing you can think of saying to get anyone at any age to do what you want them to do is ‘but it’s me asking’ you are bereft of reasons and you both want it done and do not want to do it.

In the world of ‘let’s pretend we’re grown up’ I always suggest to every adult everywhere: do what you want. If it is important to you that the curtains are perfectly pleated before you close your eyes each night (or before anyone sees them in the morning), do, please, pleat them. Yourself, if you think it is a good use of anyone’s time. you don’t want to do it, or think the work is beneath you, or think someone else should do it, please review the above recommendation: if you think it is important, do it. If it is important to you, you are the very first person on the list to get it done. If you want to hire someone else to do it, do that. If you can’t afford someone else to do it and it is too low on your priority list for you to (think it is important enough to) do… leave it.

No one else is here on this planet today to ensure that the priorities that are not important enough for you to do with your time, effort, energy or money are accomplished. If they are your priorities, they are yours.

...if they are your priorities, they are yours...

They are no one else’s. Nor should they be.
If someone else thinks the curtains need to be perfectly pleated before your eyes close for the night, that is their problem –-unless you have negotiated to be employed by them for what you agree is a fair value for your effort, it has nothing to do with you, no matter who they are.

A lot of people will dispute this, because they were raised in a different universe at another time. They were told ‘you have to’ and ‘you have no choice’ and ‘it must be this way.’ am sorry they were lied to. I am sorry that they believed it. 

I’m sorry it polluted their whole lives and now they are so angry about it that they’re trying to pass it on to other people like a venereal disease (if I have to suffer it’s not fair unless everyone else also has to) … but that is all between them and their therapists, which I strongly recommend they get for themselves, as they are clearly very unhappy people.

Please let this nonsense die with a previous generation. It is time.

Tuesday, 6 November 2018

Contrasting Attachment Parenting with Child Hate, Childism & Misoproliny

What Attachment-Style Parenting Isn’t

Attachment-style parenting is not mainstream parenting. 

Attachment-style parenting is also not gentle or peaceful parenting, which I will get to, I promise. . . after this: ‘mainstream’ I mean to encompass all the normal and traditional types of parenting people in the Western world think of as natural and automatic. Methods that are often practiced without thinking very much about, either the techniques or their effects.

While I was raised quite a lot inside the mainstream (and I'm not defending it —my parents don't: they knew they had no idea what they were doing) I would not recommend its methods for handling dogs or even chickens, because I find it deeply disrespectful of the value of life, quite beyond how it is disrespectful of the humanity of children.

Which brings me to one of the key differences between mainstream parenting and attachment-style parenting: the use of a single word, respect.

the key difference between mainstream parenting and attachment-style parenting is the use of a single word: 
Mainstream childcare (parenting, schools, daycare, babysitting, whatever) is obsessed with the word.

Mainstream Childrearing is Obsessed with the Word ‘Respect’
Children need to learn respect. They need to show respect. They need to be respectful. They need to be taught respect. And more often than not, at various predictable ages, the problem with the children is that they have no respect.

The means to fix the respect problem, in mainstream households and institutions, is force, coercion, bribery, punishment, nagging, shouting, withdrawal of affection, isolation, pain, shame, fear-mongering, emotional blackmail, and guilt. Et cetera. a part of the world where 8-year-olds with nervous habits (eyelash pulling, nail biting, chewing, skin picking, lip licking, among a very wide variety of other things) are considered ‘normal’ and ‘sub-clinical,’ you can see how difficult this environment really is for kids.

Kids who protest their treatment (in words or behaviour) for any length of time have the tactics amplified first, and then are shopped around to professionals to be ‘fixed.’ When that inevitably doesn’t work, they’re often diagnosed and drugged.

Because for the mainstream, the problem is the child not the environment. The environment is ‘normal.’ The kid’s reaction to is the problem.

Of course, I disagree.

Child Hate

Other commentators extend their criticism of mainstream parenting to include systematic oppression of children, agism and childism (or my term, from way back when I was playing with either Latin or Greek, I don’t remember now: misoproliny, the hatred of children.
Some folks even declare that all of the maltreatment of children comes under the umbrella of the early psychological damage (from the childhoods of the people maltreating the children of now) called The Mother Wound. 

Since a lot of it is perpetuate at the behest (and often vehement insistence) of fathers and grandparents of all genders, school authorities, church authorities and elderly maiden aunts, I’d just leave off and call it all ‘traumatic childhood.’

Our world is filled with the maltreatment of children
Titled 'A spanking good time' on the image itself Jay Leno encouraging parents to gaslight their children (pretending to have eaten all their Halloween candy or giving them things like gift wrapped onions for Christmas) and then filming their distress as ‘comedy'... 

to public shaming (cutting their hair like old men, making them wear signs declaring their mistakes, making them wear ugly clothes to school), physical torture (making them walk around with heavy books carried above their heads, or standing in corners without permission to move, eat, rest or urinate) ...

and stealing or holding hostage their possessions, bribery, withholding food or attention, and physically attacking or ridiculing them for expressing emotions (like pain, enthusiasm or grief, or sexist attacks on boys for crying and girls for being angry and, of course, for the grievous sin of making mistakes ever.)

And it is not only parents (grandparents, babysitters, daycare workers, maiden uncles, etc...)

Systematic maltreatment of children is embedded in systems like schools and medicine

Schools are where it is normal to be segregated based on age, to be compelled to socialize with people you mistrust or actively dislike (or have your grades affected by people who refuse to cooperate or who simply cannot do the work yet), where bullying is normal and unimportant background noise according to the people with the power to end it, and where witnessing bullying is not even acknowledged as a problem for children not victimized or perpetrating it. 

Within schools today there remains the same palpable belief that victims of bullying kind of invite it, and bullies are kind of cool, that was real when Great Expectations was written.
Doctors and nurses are not trained to speak to children like people. They consider it normal to talk about them to their parents as if they were not there, to assume they can’t or won’t understand, to use babyish language and dumbed-down euphemisms, and to perform procedures on them without explaining what will be done or why. 

It is not considered unreasonable to lie to children to gain compliance ('this won't hurt at all,' when it obviously will), and when that fails the next and only option considered is too often physical force, for which they usually coerce the parent’s participation.

The Child in Control of Parents: 1 more way to blame the kids

The ordinary maltreatment of children includes negative judgments of their intent, like declaring that children mean to harm others, choose to be bratty on purpose, or that their misbehaviour is wholly intentional, malicious and destructive. 

Please see So, What Is This Attachment-Style Parenting, Then? for the explanation around this:
children do not ‘misbehave’ –they just behave: 
they do the best they can with what they understand as far as they are developed at this point
The Noble Mother
People declare that children are not only trying to drive their parents crazy (or make them angry) but that children have more power over the emotions and reactions of their parents than the adults have over themselves, and that the children are abusing this power for their own benefit.

However you may feel about the inherent authority, or nobility, or goodness of the role or position of Mother or Father, the idea that the child is more in control over how the parent behaves than the parent is seriously twisted.

The assertion that a child is solely responsible for a parent’s response to what the child did is identical to the abuser’s assertion it was their victim’s fault for getting beaten, because they fought back. It is identical.

From the abuser comes the phrases ‘she was asking for it’ and ‘they made me do it,’ 'he is making me mad [on purpose]' and 'they are trying to drive me crazy.'

With the information in this section alone, I expect parents and childcarers to forever stop using that kind of language, for one simple reason:

Align with abusers (and use the same justifications, excuses and attitudes) or refuse to be in the same category.

The choice is not the child's.

What About Gentle and Peaceful Parenting?

As I began with it, it's probably time to get around to it: attachment-style parenting is also not ‘gentle’ or ‘peaceful’ parenting.
The time-out stair / control by isolation
While AP may actually be both gentle and peaceful, these terms (at least in the Western world) are used by parenting 'experts' to market a variety of command-and-control parenting / childcare methods that is different from mainstream parenting in only very specific ways.

Usually, the only distinction between mainstream and gentle / peaceful parenting is the absence of physical (corporal) punishment: spanking, swatting, popping, slapping, hitting, etc. Sometimes it includes the absence (or the goal of the absence) of shouting, but not always.

Let me first say that for some people, the extreme contrast between how they were raised and Peaceful / Gentle parenting is like the difference between a Russian gulag and minimum security prison in Sweden… which is still to say: the difference is very real, and the kids are still treated as if they are incarcerated, with only the kind of treatment of the inmates allowed being very, very different.

In all other ways it is as disrespectful as the rest of mainstream parenting.


Before I move on, I will address the number one objection to clearly identifying any of these tactics as problematic: mommy-shaming. is not allowed. Mommies are loving, supportive, caring and wonderful human beings because they are mommies, and their individual parenting ‘choices’ are automatically unassailable, because they are, after all, the All Knowing, All Loving, Exalted Mommies. 

Mommies are bigger, stronger, smarter and better than children, so they automatically know best for their children because the natural result of having an egg fertilized within them carried long enough to survive int he air (or having an adoption agency approve their application) is the same as them being beatified: they are miraculously changed from ‘every kind of possible character and person people can be’ into something that is not possible to be wrong, about anything. Ever. Same for daddies.

Oh, my, the poisonous faces here . . .

What is actually happening here, with this 'no mommy-shaming' BS is that parents (moms and dads, both bio and otherwise) are defending their ancestors, usually someone who died so long ago no one knows their name anymore or even how far back they were. Ask anyone: why do you do this? Because it’s the way I was raised, and my parents were right. Okay, and who did they learn it from? Their parents. And… their parents. And? Their parents. Right. How long ago?

So, the best information you can find for how to treat children well and raise them in a healthy way is someone who thought the best way to avoid disease was not to leave the house with wet hair and by burning pitch to inhale the smoke, and a great way to get babies to sleep through the night was laudanum*?

The term for this kind of indefensible loyalty is Stockholm Syndrome, a term coined after the victims of a violent kidnapping startled everyone by not only fiercely defending their attackers, but also by marrying a few of them. 

The desperate need to stay on the same side as the people who have ultimate control over your continued existence is very real, and when the people in charge of you getting to keep breathing at 3 years old are your parents, some of that bonding can be pathological. 

This effect is also more generally called betrayal bonding. The bond is for survival, it is based entirely in fear (and if you having someone 12’ tall [Robert P. Wadlow, left, is only 8'11"] holding you still by one arm and shouting in your face, I promise you: fear is what you would be feeling, not respect) … which is used by parents because, frankly, it ‘works.’ Or it appears to work. 

Compliance is often swift. 

The fallout is nasty, but it takes longer to see, and in our culture—as noted—the side effects initially look totally normal. And we are kind of into 'instant' results without thought about the future...

The 'future' ...with drug addiction and violent crime, teen rebellion and sneaking out at night and stealing the car ... 

Mommy-Shaming & Lame Arguments

There are two arguments that will never change my mind about how command-and-control tactics harm children and that the tactics are wrong even if they work are:

You can’t shame parents for their own choices (oh, yes, actually, we certainly can because it harms children, and passes on the harm of generations of other children harmed with no better argument for doing so than ‘I was harmed this way, so must every other child be.’)
I was raised this way, and I turned out fine (no, you did not: being an advocate for child abuse is not ‘fine’ by any definition of the word.)

Well, That was Harsh

Yup, it is.

I know it will never change the mind of a single person who still believes that they will die if they betray their parents. 

These fine folk are raging and formulating their outraged comments and I am a terrible person and probably mentally ill and dangerous and a whole slough of other character flaws that are probably permanent, and possibly I’m a supernatural creature who feeds babies to some kind of furnace or tempts virgins to something or other. I know, I know –it’s all be said. (Do feel free to write it in the comments anyhow, I like a laugh —but do personally stand up for the beliefs you claim, nothing anonymous gets through.)

I’m cool with that: I’m not here to change people’s minds, not even about me and all of my character flaws. I am just here to help parents who want a different way to find a different way.

Advocates for those Peaceful / Gentle Parenting Tactics

Proponents of ‘peaceful’ parenting actually recommend locking children in isolation based on the time of day (or the parent’s preference for peace and quiet) and leaving them locked in regardless of the duration or intensity of the child’s protest, with instructions for parents like ‘clean up the puke in the morning,’ and with information that sounds like psychology but that is actually abuse, like ‘he just needs to be upset, and that’s okay.’ 

These people are wrong

Just to be really clear: there are no circumstances in the world when any human ‘needs’ to be upset. There are many when humans are upset, but that is not a need. Needs (when met) feed growth, health and happiness. The assertion that being upset is a ‘need’ is a guru making up stories to make followers feel better (than they naturally do) about causing or ignoring their children’s distress.

There is a reason people feel bad about treating children badly.

Other recommendation from the Gentle and Peaceful world (do, please, point out the gentle and the peaceful to me in any of this, I can't find it):  
  • bribery with food –one parenting commentator routinely recommends ‘promise a treat when they comply’
  • withholding food (and other necessities of life) for compliance, such as ‘send them to bed hungry and inform them that it is their decision to be hungry and they can eat in the morning if they comply then’ and ‘take away their food if they drop or throw it, declaring that they are no longer hungry and refuse to give in, they’ll learn very quickly’
  • stealing or holding their property hostage for compliance –-the usual and popular ‘take away all their electronics until they do what you demand’ akin to 'give the wifi password when the chores are done' bribe
  • threatening them (with everything from not having a birthday party this year to Santa not coming to being sent to boarding school) so they comply
  • get them used to being spied on by enemies so they will feel both hunted and guilty (omg, the horrible Elf on the Shelf, but also Santa ‘watching’ and judging, even angels or gods are used for this, which seems a little bit evil)
  • snoop through any and all of their stuff (they aren’t real people, they have no right to privacy of any kind, at any age, as long as they are living under ‘your roof’)
  • children need to learn that they are not the boss of parents / the household, and that lesson need not be gentle or kind in its delivery
  • children need to learn what the parents insist on them learning, when the parents are ready for them to learn with no reference at all to the developmental level or capabilities of the child
  • take away the bottle / pacifier / object of attachment because when parents are finished with their kids needing the self-soothing tools they introduced, the child must be finished needing it regardless of any protest or distress
  • children naturally protest growing up, taking on responsibility, and getting what they really need so any volume, intensity or duration of protest over parent’s methods is to be taken in stride because parents know best all the time, and it is up to them to be in charge and decide everything
What The Recommendations Read Like to Domestic Abuse Survivors

These experts in 'gentleness' and 'peacefulness' are so used to their place of privilege in this culture of agism and childism that they have no idea at all how their rationalizations, explanations, reasons, excuses and justifications really sound like.

What domestic violence abusers do:
  • locking their victim out of the house, in the house, or isolating them from family and friends teaches them who is in charge, and who knows best for them
  • give victims flowers or jewelry when they do what is wanted
  • threaten them when they don’t do what is wanted
  • withhold access to money, friends, family, their own phone, or anything else, so they know who is in charge –and ensure they know they are being watched so they behave
  • destroy the possessions they cherish, or give them away or sell them because they deserve it
  • victims need to learn who is in charge and that they are not the boss of the abuser, so whatever it takes to teach that is fine and necessary (violence may be off the table, but gaslighting, isolation, controlling their stuff, emotional blackmail, guilt, pouting, the silent treatment, ridiculing, criticizing, intimidating, public shaming… all totally fine)
  • victims may protest what is best for them, but abusers know better than what will make victims happy, healthy, mature, have a good character, or become socially acceptable, the abuser is just trying to help fix the victims flaws (and there are so many flaws…) 
these are all excuses and justifications used by bullies and abusers of all kinds
including parents

At Least Gentle / Peaceful Parenting is Better Than Mainstream Parenting??

The absence of spanking (or, sometimes, the absence of spanking and shouting) does not stop the damage mainstream parenting does, so I will agree with Alfie Kohn: 

a time out is better than a spanking the same way a spanking is better than being shot—none of them are kind or respectful treatment and none of them qualify as effective parenting tools
Removing one (or at the most, two) of the controlling tactics from the arsenal in the war on children is not at all like attachment-style parenting.

Attachment-style parenting seeks to end the war entirely.

     … to be continued

*opium dissolved in alcohol, in case you’re not up on your Victorian sleep cures

So, What Is This Attachment-Style Parenting, then?
Parenting this other way is about respecting children, for their humanity, for the truth of their experience, for their body’s wisdom, for their inborn genuine goodness, for the people they were before they were born.

The cool thing about parenting this way is that one of the primary results is that children raised respectfully become respectable and respectful. Exactly the opposite of what the critics up there formulating their outraged comments get. And, for most people, that is a happy accident and a side-effect of why they are parenting this way.

Treating People Well Feels Better

We treat children this way because it feels better (to ourselves) to be kind, and sometimes because we can remember what it felt like to feel respected as children (if that ever happened to us) and what it felt like to be on the receiving end of being controlled by systems, rules, clocks, and adults determined to get their own way, and not listen, no matter what.

We treat children either the way we were treated (there are many, many adults walking around today who were never bribed or threatened, never made to pretend to sleep when they weren’t tired, or required to comply with mercurial demands), or the way we have decided is respectful.


This whole way of parenting is 180° from how most people think about and talk about children, so for newcomers to this idea, one of the hardest ideas to convey is the foundation of why words like ‘misbehaviour’ (‘acting out,’ ‘making poor choices,’ whatever) and ‘obedience’ (‘listening,’ ‘cooperating,’ and ‘minding’) are not relevant.

My goal as a mother was never to create compliant or obedient children who never misbehaved. Starting with a single fact: children do not ‘misbehave’ –they just behave. They do the best they can with what they understand as far as they are developed at this point.

Kids just behave. 

They do the best they can with what they understand as far as they are developed at this point. 

That sometimes their behaviour makes a mess, or causes problems for others, or hurts someone is not a reason to punish them, but a reason to understand what they were attempting, and to see if there is a way to accomplish what they were trying to do that doesn’t have the unfortunate effects adults don’t want (like having to clean up messes, bothering others or hurting people or animals.)

I love this flowchart 
 because until a child is rational, the child is not rational, so things that seem rational to adults will never seem rational to children (and vice versa.)

My Whole, Complete Newborn Human

     When my eldest was born, I was looking into the face of an obvious person, a real live human being who was already completely present. She wasn’t going to be sub-human, or a fake person, until magically turning into a human being (an adult), or a real person, at some date far in the future.
     It was perfectly obvious to me that she was also completely whole and good. She was a 3-minute-old human person. She wasn’t 0/12th of a 1-year-old. She wasn’t 0/228th of a 19-year-old. She was not partly a person, or an empty bucket to be filled with my brilliance and wisdom, like some sycophant breathlessly awaiting the installation of the wise woman’s delicate pearls of knowledge. 

She was also not broken, flawed or evil.

I have no idea how anyone can look into the eyes of a newborn and see evil, except to say that people do not see the world as the world is, they see the world as they are: evil people see evil everywhere, regular people can’t figure out what they’re talking about.

The next obvious thing to me was that I could not know better than my daughter when she was hungry, tired, bored, overwhelmed, curious, content or enthusiastic. That was all about her own internal experience, and I could not feel how full (or empty) her stomach was, not only because I had no way of knowing what number of calories she was burning, but also because I had no idea how many calories she needed or how fast she was digesting her food.

I could certainly not declare that x-many minutes of sleep was insufficient or too much for that body now. And it dawned on me that the clock, and any distant self-declared expert, was certainly never going to know more about her immediate need (or lack of need) for sleep than her body.

From this I learned to trust her. I respected her experience of herself and her life, and had the most wonderful ride imaginable, watching her grow from herself as a tiny newborn into herself as a full-grown, married, beautiful and intelligent and kind and respectable woman.

     I made a lot of mistakes along the way, and every single one of them were from listening to people who knew ‘better’ than she did what she needed, what she was trying to accomplish, and what she ‘meant.’ They were almost always wrong, and they were usually deeply disrespectful in the process. She was right, she always knew: this is what I am interested in now, this is me, this is what I want and need, this is my life, this is what I want to attempt to accomplish.
     And, because I have clearly been well-behaved in some life, I also got to have another daughter, totally different and exactly the same as the first: whole, complete, already human at birth.

When people compliment me on my daughters, which happens often, I always demure: they came this way, I just limited how much I screwed them up.

Announce & Wait, part 2, or Why it does not work for all kids

Announce & Wait – a Caveat: 
                                            it takes a minute or so. . .

The feedback on the post Announce & Wait has made me realize that not all people are starting this kind of parenting thing from the earliest days of their parenting life, and many people have a history of not-this-kind-of-parenting … which makes some of the suggestions look like they don’t ‘work’.

In case you don’t feel like wandering over and reading the related piece, that post is essentially a suggestion for how to have more peaceful cooperation with things like toothbrushing, diaper changes and getting ready to leave the building when it’s -73°C outside: gather everything you need, go to where you need to do it (at the door, on the floor near the changing pad, or on the way to the washroom with the toothbrushes in it) saying --to someone whose full attention you actually have--‘I’m going to brush your teeth [or whatever] now…’ and wait. Stay still, don’t say anything, and really don’t say it again. Just wait. Meditate. Everyone needs more opportunities to focus on staying in the moment. Every parent I have ever met wishes for more uninterrupted time to be themselves in … what a wonderful free moment you are being given, until the little one processes the information, sorts out what they want to do, and comes to go along with your plans.

That is the suggestion in that post. It works.

However . . .

Think of all the other ways people are told to ‘encourage’ kids to do things the kids don’t necessarily want to do or agree are very important. Toddlers don’t understand ‘cavities in 18 months’ or ‘frozen flesh warnings.’ Parents do, which is why they get to be in charge of the hygiene and safety stuff.
When you’re just entering the ‘I don’t want to do what you want to do because you want to do it’ stage with, say, a 14- or 18-month-old child, starting with this approach before any other approach is attempted makes it ‘work’ –peacefully, and at least as effectively as anything else anyone suggests, but again: peacefully, which isn’t how most command-and-control, coercion, or orders –sorry ‘opportunities for cooperation’—usually turn out.

How Orders [ahem . . . opportunities to cooperate] Turn Out

Even if they work, there are natural responses to ordering people around, and pretty much every parent looking for ideas for how to make their days go more smoothly have ample evidence of what those responses look like: my child deaf? I swear she could hear a moment ago when I unwrapped a chocolate bar… three rooms away behind a door. . .

          I am SO tired of the word ‘no,’ it is              all the kids ever say. . .

I don’t have the energy to chase the child around the house every time we need to do something. . .

Oh, great, I don’t have time for another temper tantrum right now, we need to GOooooo!

Sometimes people think I’m talking about kids’ reactions.  

Kids’ reactions are just their response to what is happening around them, to them, and within themselves. That’s all perfectly natural. It’s also inevitable and unchangeable from the outside.

The reactions that aren’t ‘working’ for the parents are the parent’s: impatience, frustration, irritation, martyrdom, hopelessness, exasperation, desperation, depletion and burnout.

Often parents see the kids’ behaviour as the driving force causing these responses, which is pretty usual in a culture that shames anyone responsible for anything, and encourages people to evade blame at all costs.

However. . .
A great friend who has renamed herself Talloolah in the tradition of Wise Women everywhere who step outside the mainstream, says ‘expectations are just planned disappointments.’ 

Another friend, who proudly calls herself a Crone, says ‘that’s not just asking for frustration, that’s ordering it.’

I segued away there to pave the way to say something rather counter-culture:

choose your action, choose your response

Am I saying that parents are asking for frustration and irritation and burnout on purpose? Absolutely not. Am I saying that they are doing it without realizing it, and often without any awareness of what is happening? You bet!

By choosing your action, you are choosing your response

If you order another human being to do your bidding, you are choosing resistance. It’s basic human nature, and while there are unicorns in the world who might comply instantly for fun or because the sun is up, the chances of you having given birth to one (or adopted one, or had one assigned to your classroom or sign up for your daycare services) are kind of remote. They aren’t called unicorns because they are everyday horses –or because they are people.

If you nag a human being to do what you want when they clearly are doing something else, you are choosing frustration AND resistance. It’s basic human nature. Humans do not like being told what to do, and when the resistance to being ordered around becomes second-nature, humans will not do what they want to do if they think it aligns with what the authority wants them to do. This is the basis of a lot of ‘forgetting’ and procrastination. Repeating the order is just irritating to everyone.

If you interrupt a human being with what you believe is more important (to you) than what is important to them, you are choosing exasperation. It is basic human nature. People of all ages naturally resist having other people choose their priorities.

The Long Way to Say: announce and wait ‘works’
. . .when the person involved trusts your motives

It is hard to hear that the reason your child does not respond to your communication openly and eagerly . . .

. . . it is hard to hear that this is about trust and connection.
Resistance to you and your words is not built on trust, it’s built on command-and-control parenting styles. Even ‘peaceful’ command-and-control styles. The thing about human nature is that the words don’t matter. At all. Call is ‘peaceful’ if you want to, if it is coercive, command-and-control, the resistance you encounter will be the truth of the situation. Call it ‘attachment’ when you leave the baby with a total stranger for something ‘important’ and the baby will still be freaked out by the stranger. Call it ‘logical consequences’ and the child will perceive it as the punishment that it is, because it is imposed in response to ‘poor choices’ (read: adult-determined ‘bad behaviour’) and never to ‘good choices.’ That is how you can always tell it is not ‘natural’ consequences, because the universe supplies those quite without fear or favour, regardless of what anyone ‘meant.’

This is not about ‘bad’ parenting. That’s a value judgement that people take personally, naturally resist, and isn’t helpful in any context.

It is about taking bad advice –sometimes without thinking about it at all, sometimes because of where it came from (our own childhoods, often) and sometimes because of how delightfully convenient and simple it would be if it did work.

Bad advice is the kind that can’t work because it fails to accept reality as a premise. Coercive, command-and-control parenting advice is like that: it can’t work because: people. is about the problem with following age-old (and sometimes new-sounding) advice that disregards basic human nature because … well, I don’t really know why it disregards basic human nature.

Maybe because for a really long time, kids have not been thought of as really human.

Maybe because it sounds like it should work.

Maybe because it feels like it would be faster if you could just activate the Voice Command Software and have a smooth-running, adults-deferred-to, convenient ‘the Queen is in charge of the Universe and the time at which other people wash their faces’ house…

I don’t really know what is the impetus behind disregarding basic human nature in favour of the stories around ‘you should be able to control your kid’ and all the advice that sounds like that … but I do know it is fantasy fiction.

Sure, if people weren’t people, maybe it would work.

If kids weren’t people, maybe it would work.

It doesn’t work.

Because: people.

And the length of time the sun is visible in the sky does not change based on the number humans decide to put on their clocks, and there is no ‘daylight’ to ‘save’ by changing them. Not sure why that bit of weirdness ever took hold, either, but here we are: daylight hours in the Northern hemisphere shorten through October and November, just as they are lengthening in the Southern hemisphere and staying completely the same at the equator –let’s all change the clocks and pretend something else is happening because … then children will have Voice Command Software and they will magically stop being human and stop resisting being controlled by … um … nah.

It’ll never work.

What is the Caveat?

The caveat to Announce-and-Wait is that in a place where kids are used to being, expecting to be, and have a lot of experience being ordered around (sorry I meant so say: motivated to comply / encouraged to listen… but really: ordered around), they will absolutely not magically ‘perform’ differently in the face of one simple change of a parent’s behaviour in this instance. It will ‘work’ –just not right away, and maybe not at all today.

Because this is about trust.

Trust is messy, because people want to control what other people think and feel … and that urge alone damages trust.

Wanting other people to trust you feels controlling to them, and that damages their ability to trust you.

This Relationship Thing is COMPLICATED!

As much as we want to feel capable and in control, the simple reality of relationships is phrased the way a late friend put it:

               This is me
               That is you

All the ‘this is me’ stuff we are in control of is:
     1.       our words and,
     2.        our actions.

We don’t control our thoughts, emotions, the world around us, the weather on Europa or what other people think of us or what they think about what we do.

All the ‘that is you’ stuff we are in control of is this list here:
        . . . 

Even in our own very young children, we cannot control the impact we have on them, what they think about what we do or say, how they understand what we do or say, what they think our actions and words mean about them and their value as people, or how much they trust or respect us.

One more time for the people in the back: we do not get to decide what impact our actions and words have on other people.

We do not control what they think about us, or about themselves when we are affecting them.

When we make changes, of any kind really, we are not the people who get to decide how those changes will be perceived by others. We don’t get to decide that we have sufficient authority for others to go along with those changes instantly, or to respond to those changes immediately the way we expect them to or how we hope they will.

Announce-and-wait is not magically different.

It takes time to make changes that matter.

It takes patience, to allow the other people to see that you really mean it, and this isn’t some new trick you’ve discovered to make them compliant a new way.

It takes time to rebuild trust that you really are not trying to control them, that they really are free and that you really will wait for them to be ready to do that thing you want them to do.

As I said: change is hard. It works, but not instantly like a Polaroid picture (which also takes a minute…)