Friday, May 11, 2012

United Family

Brick Wall
 I’ll confess it now. I hold heretical views on some parenting issues, and particularly on the most sacred tenet of all: the united front. Like consistency, it is assumed to be common sense and rarely controversial. I have some strong disagreements with the whole concept, though.

First, the whole point is (as Alfie Kohn points out) a united front against the child. It is part of the whole adversarial mindset that pits the parents against the children in war. The theory goes that if the child senses any weakness, he will attack you at your most vulnerable level of disagreement, so you are bound to an alliance with your partner in order to create a show of strength. My children aren’t adversaries, though. We are allies. Our family is on the same team. We aren’t at war with our kids and we are not afraid of evil motives on their part.

Secondly, it is inauthentic. The united front supposes that you and your partner actually disagree to some extent, but are backing each other up from a sense of obligation and/or fear. Do I really want to teach my children to ignore their own conscience and go along with others to prove their relationship? Is that the model of conflict resolution that I want them to follow? Five or ten years from now, I want to know that my kids feel comfortable standing firm in their own convictions, whether their friends agree or not.

Read the rest over at Natural Parents Network :)

6 comments:

Mrs. Searching said...

I needed this today. :)

arwen_tiw said...

Yes! I love your articles. I just sit here and nod, and feel like I have good company in my heretical views! xx

Elizabeth Spence said...

I didn't click over and read the whole article, so forgive me if I'm missing your point, but I have a question...

What do you personally do when one of your children gets a "no" from you with an explanation of why, and then proceeds to find your husband and get the answer he/she wants? I've always heard the "united front" presented in that sort of a context. If I tell my kids it's bed time and they don't want to go so they appeal to my husband, it's still bed time. And conversely, if he tells them to turn the TV off, but then they ask me if they can keep it on, no, it goes off. I don't particularly want them learning to play one of us against the other one. BUT...there are times when maybe I will tell the kids it's bedtime, and my husband will decide they can stay up for fun and so we are flexible in deciding not to just legalistically back each other up. Make sense? We're not against them, but as adults, someone ultimately has to make a final decision.

dulce de leche said...

Great question! For expediency, whoever is actively taking care of the kids at that moment gets to decide. But being able to talk through all the options as a family, although it takes longer in the beginning, is really the easiest way in the long run. The more you practice, the less time it takes, and the fewer issues even come up.

dulce de leche said...

<3 :)

dulce de leche said...

<3