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Please remember that you signed a Non-Disclosure Agreement before being granted access to this content. You have my permission to reprint this content for your personal use only. If you want to reprint or distribute this to others, please complete & submit a reprint request form. Thank you!РJody Johnston Pawel, LSW, CFLE, The Parent’s Toolshop, © 2000

 

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CHAPTER 2

FOUNDATION-BUILDING TOOLSET 

 

 

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CHAPTER

 2 FOUNDATION-BUILDING TOOLSET

 

The first step in building a house is to lay a foundation that is stable and balanced. If a house’s foundation sits partly on rock and partly on sand, the house will eventually sink into the weak sand. The people in the house may not realize the foundation is imbalanced until problems start to develop, such as cracked or crooked walls. A beautiful house is worthless if the foundation is sinking and it’s a difficult and expensive problem to fix.

Effective parenting tools won’t work as well if parents’ beliefs are unhealthy, imbalanced, or inconsistent. As the imbalances increase, more damage occurs and problems worsen. Unfortunately, some parents don’t realize they have an imbalanced parenting style until they see problems. Fortunately, balancing our parenting style is much easier than fixing a sinking house’s foundation. Ideally, we want to set and maintain a balanced parenting style before problems develop, to prevent problems.

One of our parenting goals is to provide a solid, balanced base from which children can get a firm launch into adulthood. Children of negative, over-controlling parents will try to launch before they are ready, to escape this restrictiveness. Children of overly permissive parents will not get a firm launch because the foundation is too unstable and soft. Children from balanced families get a solid, healthy launch.

 

IN THIS CHAPTER

The tools in the Universal Blueprint only work to their full potential if we also choose healthy beliefs and attitudes. Before we learn about the Universal Blueprint and how to use specific tools, we need to do three important tasks:

    1. Set long-term parenting goals and then choose a parenting style that will best meet these goals.
    2. Identify our current parenting style (from the five general parenting styles) and decide whether it is the most effective style for reaching our long-term parenting goals.
    3. Balance our parenting style by replacing unhelpful beliefs and attitudes with positive alternatives.

 

WHEN TO USE THE FOUNDATION-BUILDING TOOLSET

Our beliefs are the foundation of our parenting, so they constantly affect our responses‚ÄĒeven if we are not aware of them. To have a balanced parenting style, we need to choose healthy, helpful beliefs. Therefore, we use this toolset constantly. At first, we need to examine beliefs carefully and consciously, to set a balanced foundation for our family. Then, we make a stronger effort to look at our beliefs when we are responding to problems, to maintain our balance. If our responses backfire, we review the six reasons the tools might not work (See the section entitled ‚ÄúSuggestions for Use‚ÄĚ on page 13 in Chapter 1, ‚ÄúTouring The Parent‚Äôs Toolshop‚ÄĚ), since unhelpful, inaccurate beliefs are one of those reasons.

 

ESTABLISHING A COMMON LANGUAGE

To prevent misunderstandings caused by different advice we’ve heard, we will occasionally need to clarify words that might have more than one definition. When we work with other parenting partners, establishing a common language can be a major step in resolving what we think are our disagreements.

 

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 A Graduate’s Story. After our first child was born, my husband and I often disagreed about the proper way to handle parenting situations. When we took the parenting class together, it gave us a common language. We realized we agreed on our parenting goals, but sometimes disagreed about how to accomplish them. The class taught us more effective parenting skills, which helped us work as a team toward our common goals. While we don’t always agree, we first eliminate the possibility that we are using different definitions to say the same thing. Often, we actually agree, but are using different words to explain our beliefs. We then use the problem-solving skills we learned in the parenting class to resolve our differences and plan a consistent response.

We want to be sure parenting advice will help us reach our long-term goals before we follow it. Some parenting resources make unhelpful, inaccurate advice sound appealing. Other resources use terms that some people consider negative to describe accurate, helpful advice. The Parent‚Äôs Toolshop¬†uses accurate, original definitions to explain and compare effective and ineffective parenting skills. These definitions describe the qualities of effective and ineffective parenting, so parents can easily recognize other sources of trustworthy, accurate advice, regardless of the terms they use. Chapter 15, ‚ÄúThe Three C‚Äôs: Consistency, Criticism, and Confidence,‚ÄĚ page 416, offers specific suggestions for screening parenting advice. (Remember, you can read the first two sections of that chapter out of order.)

 

WHAT ARE OUR PARENTING GOALS?

Some parenting experts base their advice on what worked for their families. Others take a logical theory and test it, noticing the effects. These methods sometimes result in interesting findings, but the suggestions aren’t reliable for most people. The most valuable information comes from studying adults who display the behaviors and qualities parents strive to develop in their own children. When researchers ask these adults questions about their upbringing, they discover what worked, why it worked, and develop guidelines for parents to follow.

Ask yourself, ‚ÄúWhat skills and qualities do I want my children to develop?‚ÄĚ Your list may include:

  • self-confidence
  • emotional and social maturity¬†
  • self-motivation
  • independence
  • responsibility
  • cooperation and helpfulness
  • self-discipline
  • assertiveness, conflict-resolution skills
  • respect for self and others
  • problem-solving and decision-making skills
 
Most parents are realistic; they don’t expect perfect children who get straight A’s and become famous super-achievers. They simply want their children to be well-adjusted, responsible adults. If you share the goals listed above, we can establish these as our individual goals for our children

Since The Parent‚Äôs Toolshop¬†teaches a ‚ÄúUniversal Blueprint¬†For Building a Healthy Family,‚ÄĚ we must also define what a ‚Äúhealthy‚ÄĚ family is. Dolores Curran, author of Traits of a Healthy Family,1¬†studied hundreds of families who produced children with the skills and qualities we‚Äôve listed as individual goals. She found these families had 15 common characteristics.

A healthy family . . .

1. communicates and listens.
2. affirms and supports one another.
3. reaches respect for others.
4. develops a sense of trust.
5. has a sense of play and humor.
6. exhibits a sense of shared responsibility.
7. teaches a sense of right and wrong.
8. has a strong sense of family
    in which rituals and traditions abound.
9. has a balance of interaction among members.
10. has a shared religious core.
11. respects the privacy of one another.
12. values service to others.
13. fosters family table time and conversation.
14. shares leisure time
15. admits to and seeks help with problems.

 

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Do these qualities describe your family? Would you like your children to have a family like this? If so, we can establish these as our family goals, the qualities we want our family to have.

Whether we grew up in a healthy family or not, we can establish one for our children. When parents want to be different from their own parents, some do the opposite of what their parents did. This approach, however, is usually just as unhealthy. Once we are parents, we can choose how to raise our children. 

Conscious parenting is the process of choosing our parenting style  and responses. It differs from trial-and-error parenting or seeking quick fixes, which often create long-term problems.

A Graduate’s Story. My father was an abusive alcoholic. I knew I didn’t want to raise my children the way my parents raised me, but didn’t know any other way to parent, so I guessed and tried to learn from my mistakes. The Parent’s Toolshop and the Universal Blueprint have given me a plan and specific tools that will help me reach my goals. There’s little guess work, I’m making fewer mistakes, and I feel so confident about my parenting. I know now that I will reach my goals of raising a well-adjusted child and being a loving, effective father.

Next, we want to look at our long-term goal of preparing children for self-sufficient adulthood, which is our societal goal. Ask yourself, ‚ÄúWhat kinds of skills and qualities does my child need to succeed as an adult, work in the business world, and contribute something positive to our society and world?‚ÄĚ Most people include the following traits and skills:

Personal Traits or Qualities

  • Self-discipline ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†¬†
  • Self-motivation
  • Cooperation
  • Honesty
  • Reliability
  • Confidence
  • Willingness to take ‚Äúhealthy‚ÄĚ risks
  • Respectfulness toward self and others
  • Commitment to community service ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†

Skills Needed in the Business World

    • Decision-making
    • Effective communication
    • ¬†Time and stress management
    • Conflict-resolution and problem-solving
    • Organization
    • Cooperating as a team player
    • Following rules, yet recognizing unethical requests
    • Creative thinking, offering suggestions and ideas for improvement

Now that we have individual, family, and societal goals, we want to choose the parenting style and techniques that best accomplish these goals.

We can tell if a particular parenting style or tool will help us reach our parenting goals by asking two questions:

  1. How well will this style or technique develop the skills and qualities I want my children to have?
  2. How does this style or technique prepare my children for adulthood in the society in which they need to succeed? Does it develop the skills and qualities businesses look for in their employees and leaders?

A Graduate’s Comment. At work, I have weekly, quarterly, and yearly goals. To achieve these goals, I develop a plan. I read books and attend workshops to learn better methods to work my plan. The Parent’s Toolshop helps me do the same thing with my parenting plan.

 

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PARENTING STYLES

Family studies have identified three general types of parenting styles. Two are imbalanced and ineffective in the long-run: over-controlling and under-controlling. Only one general style is most effective in raising children who have the positive qualities and behaviors we identified as our goals. We will call this style balanced parenting.

 

 

Consider the laws of physics when you look at this scale. Where would you need to put a weight on the scale to balance the scale the quickest? The closer the weight is to the middle, the quicker the scale will balance. Moving the weight slightly, within the balanced area, creates only small imbalances. The farther the weight moves to either end, the more imbalanced the scale becomes. It is humanly impossible (and impractical) to always stay right at the zero. Balanced parenting is a range, between the two 1s. We can choose more flexible or more firm responses within that balanced range, based on the individual needs of the child, parent, or circumstances of the situation. 

If our general, daily parenting style and techniques are within the balanced range, the effects (short- and long-term) are healthy and balanced. The degree to which we experience negative and unhealthy effects (short- and long-term) depends on how frequently and extremely we use imbalanced styles or techniques.

Each style has positive qualities, but if taken too far, the extremely imbalanced forms of these qualities become harmful. In the general descriptions, we might recognize traits we have, yet disagree that we have other traits common to that style. In truth, each of us might use a little of all three styles, but one is usually our main parenting style. We usually have an everyday ¬†parenting style and another style we fall back on when we are under pressure, frustrated, or angry. We also might use one style at work or with adults and another at home or with children. As you read the descriptions, consider how they can apply to adult relationships, such as those involving spouses, supervisors, leaders, or teachers. The following sections detail five styles of parenting‚ÄĒthree general styles and two specific categories within each of the two imbalanced styles. For each style, we ask similar questions about parenting and show how the answers might differ based on the parenting style.

Before we look more closely at the three major parenting styles and the subgroups within them, take the Parenting Styles Quiz on pages 26 and 27 to determine your current parenting style. This will help you focus throughout the rest of the chapter on those skills and beliefs you might choose to replace with healthier, more balanced alternatives.

 

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Parenting Styles Quiz

What type of parenting style do you use? Find out by taking this quiz. Answer the questions honestly, based on your beliefs and what you would really say or do, not how you think the questions ‚Äúshould‚ÄĚ be answered:

1. What is the parent’s job?

a.  To make children behave and to obey authority and rules.
b. ¬†To provide constant supervision/structured rules so children will act/choose ‚Äúright.‚ÄĚ
c.  To teach children the life skills they need to be self-disciplined, responsible adults.
d.  To make sure children have a happy, carefree childhood. 
e.  To let children learn the proper skills and behavior on their own.

2. Who is responsible for controlling the child’s behavior?

a.  Parents must stay in charge and children should obey their rules.
b.  Children should do what the more experienced and knowledgeable parents say.
c.  Parents are responsible for teaching children behaviors and skills they need for self-control.
d.  Parents should explain to the children why they should behave and ask for their  cooperation.
e.  Children can figure out their own limits through trial and error.

3. Who has rights?

a.  The parents have all the rights, just because they are adults; children have few or no rights.
b.  Parents have superior knowledgeable and experience; therefore they have more rights.
c.  Parents and children both have the right to be treated with dignity and respect.
d.  Children’s rights and needs are more important than the parents.
e.  Children have rights as long as the parents aren’t inconvenienced.

4. Who gets respect?

a.  Children are expected to respect parents, but parents are not obligated to respect children.
b.  Children have to earn their parents’ respect before they will receive it.
c.  All people deserve to be treated respectfully, regardless of age or position.
d.  Parents should respect their children so the children will be happy.
e.  Children act disrespectful now and then, it’s no big deal.

5. How are mistakes handled?

a.  Children must be punished if they break the rules. The punishment must either make the child feel bad or inconvenience the child somehow.
b.  Parents can correct children’s mistakes by expressing disappointment, offering  constructive criticism, urging children to try harder, and telling them how to fix the mistake and prevent it later.
c.  Children can learn lessons from mistakes and how to fix them or prevent them in the future.
d.  It is a parent’s responsibility to fix children’s mistakes or protect children from the negative effects.
e.  Others (besides the parents and children) are probably to blame for the children’s mistakes.

6. How are problems solved and decisions made?

a.  Choices are made within limits that respect the rights and needs of others.
b.  The problems will go away on their own; if not, the parents can deal with it later.
c.  Parents have the right answers, so the children should follow their advice.
d. Parents should monitor their children’s activities, set goals for the child, and offer rewards or incentives for reaching the goals.
e. Parents should try to find out what the children want and make them happy. 

Co-written by Jody Pawel and Pam Dillon of the Dayton Daily News (for 4/6/98 article). Permission granted to reprint only in The Parent‚Äôs Toolshop¬ģ , ¬© 2000 or by PTC personnel.

 

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 7. How are negative feelings handled?

a.  Parents shouldn’t try to change their children’s negative feelings but can teach them how to express them appropriately.
b.  Everything will go smoother if children keep their negative feelings to themselves.
c.  Children should not express negative feelings because it shows defiance and disrespect.
d. ¬†Children should think and feel what their parents think and feel is ‚Äúright.‚ÄĚ
e.  Parents should protect or rescue children from negative feelings.

8. Who decides how children should behave, which interests they pursue and the goals they set?

a. Parents can teach children positive behavior skills so children can set and reach healthy goals.
b. Children can figure out how to behave and what interests/goals to pursue through trial and error.
c.  Parents should tell children what to do and the goals to pursue and make them follow through.
d.  Parents should set high standards for children and choose interests/goals that will help the children succeed as adults.
e.  Children should be allowed to do whatever interests/goals they want so they’ll be happy.

9. Who makes the rules and how are they enforced?

a.  Children can have choices, within reasonable limits, and understand the value of the rules.
b.  If parents set and enforce limits, their children will feel too constricted and rebel.
c.  Parents should tell their children what to do, and children should obey without question.
d.  Parents can set structured rules and correct children with constructive criticism and advice.
e.  If parents politely remind children to behave, they eventually will.

10. How can parents motivate children?

a.  Parents can teach their children the value of tasks so they are self-motivated to do them.
b.  Children should be responsible for motivating themselves.
c.  Children can be motivated through commands and threats.
d.  Children can be motivated by rewards and incentives, acceptance and praise.
e.  If parents do enough for their children, the children will be happy and motivated.

11. How do parents discipline?

a.  Parents can explain children’s behavior choices and hold them accountable for their decisions.
b.  Children can monitor their own behavior.
c.  Punishment should be uncomfortable or inconvenient so misbehavior will stop.
d.  Parents should make their children feel bad for misbehaving and take away special privileges.
e.  Parents shouldn’t punish their children too often or they will lose their children’s love.

 

Scoring:

You will have five totals‚ÄĒone for each of the five parenting styles. Your highest score shows your dominant parenting style.

  • Power Patrol:¬†Add 1 point for every (a.) answer on questions 1 through 5, and 1 point for every (c.) answer on questions 6 through 11.
  • Perfectionistic Supervisor:¬†Add 1 point for every (b.) answer on questions 1 through 5, and 1 point for every (d.) answer on questions 6 through 11.
  • Balanced:¬†Add 1 point for every (c.) answer on questions 1 through 5, and 1 point for every (a.) answer on questions 6 through 11.
  • Over-Indulger:¬†Add 1 point for every (d.) answer on questions 1 through 5, and 1 point for every (e.) answer on questions 6 through 11.
  • Avoider:¬†Add 1 point for every (e.) answer on questions 1 through 5, and 1 point for every (b.) answer on questions 6 through 11.¬†

Co-written by Jody Pawel and Pam Dillon of the Dayton Daily News (for 4/6/98 article). Permission granted to reprint only in The Parent‚Äôs Toolshop¬ģ , ¬© 2000 or by PTC personnel.