Monday, January 30, 2012

Raising Our Children, Raising Ourselves - The Good

A good friend of mine recommended Raising Our Children, Raising Ourselves to me and lent me her copy to read. Overall, I did not agree with the author, Naomi Aldort. It took me about three weeks to read because I kept getting frustrated and putting it away. That being said, there was good information. Tomorrow's post will focus on the Bad and the Ugly; today's is about the good stuff.

Children are important. One key theme is that children are people, too. They have legitimate needs, even if these needs seem silly to adults. Children deserve to be respected and treated with compassion. Our children are more important than a schedule or a clean house.

Give language to emotions. Children, especially young children, cannot express themselves clearly. They may not even be able to pinpoint why they are unhappy, much less explain it. By asking, "Are you angry because you wanted to play longer?" a parent acknowledges the emotion and helps the child to express himself in the future. Validating emotions helps a child know he is not being ignored.

Allow failure. From a baby learning to walk to a teen trying out for a team, parents cannot protect their children from every struggle and even failure. Children who have the opportunity to fail learn to trust themselves and learn that they are able to cope with difficulties. That being said, don't let your baby crawl near the pool or give your teen the keys the first day he has his permit!

Appropriate failure: Spilling water
Inappropriate failure: Falling out of his high chair
(hence the belt)

Children are different. Some children can sit quietly at a young age, others grow into adulthood still dreading meetings that last more than 15 minutes. Some children want the noise and energy of a play group, others simply want time alone. Know your child. Don't put your three-year-old in gymnastics class if she cannot sit or follow directions yet. Everyone will end up frustrated.

Tickling can be cruel. Aldort lays down important rules to keep tickling fun. It should be chosen and controlled by the child, not the adult. A child should not be tickled to the point where he cannot talk. Do not assume laughter means the child is having fun.


  1. Hey Cat. I know Naomi and her teaching very well, and while I am not her biggest fan these days, I do really agree with her principles. When you read the book, you have to really understand that it is a book about PARENTS, not about CHILDREN. She teaches that we have to examine our own thoughts FIRST, before approaching our children from all the old pre-conceived ideas that we carry with us. It is not a How-To manual on raising happy, self-reliant children. It is really a kick-in-the-pants manual to get parents to examine their old ways of thinking and to open their minds to a whole new paradigm in relationships and life.

    BTW, are you going to submit a post for the Carnival of Family Size? We're happy to extend the deadline for you!

    For Freedom and Joy,

    1. Yeah, I see the value in "know thyself" and being aware of the fallacy of automatic thoughts. I had a hard time getting past the parts that drove me crazy to appreciate the other parts. :-)

      I submitted tonight! Hours and hours before the deadline! ;-)

  2. I've seen this book and Aldort's ideas come up frequently in gentle discipline circles. It seems to have a positive effect for two situations in particular:

    1. Parents who are unfamiliar with child development and who come from a place of believing that when they are irritated with their child it is because their child wants to irritate them. If the first place they learn about developmentally appropriate behavior is in Raising Our Children, Raising Ourselves, it likely will be a paradigm shifter.

    2. People who are secure in their own sense of "what works for me" and who are experts at Taking the Best and Leaving the Rest.

    I frequently see people in discussion boards and reviews say they liked a few things in the book, but not at all, and they are content with that. Or they say, I liked the book, but I wouldn't recommend it to others because it doesn't have enough practical solutions.

    As an early childhood educator I was at first quite excited about this book because the author "gets" what many parenting/discipline authors don't- that childhood motivations are different from adult motivations and that many "bad-behaviors" in children really are typical development. So many other books focus on changing children to meet adult expectations.

    But for me, I can't recommend this book to parents I work with because it is not scholarly and counters the healthy limit-setting rX of mainstream child development without bringing substantial evidence to support to the author's views.

    1. Yes, I'm a firm believer that every behavior is goal-directed and the goal is not simply to be annoying. But I'm with you that this book is not good for general audiences. I think it has value, but needs to be read critically. Thank you for your thoughtful comment!