Parenting with Love & Logic by Foster Cline and Jim Fay is a book about tough love. It is a book that considers that children need love but also need to learn life’s lessons from the earliest age. The key idea behind Love and Logic is that children must be taught about consequences and accountability.
The main ideas
- Cline and Fay argue that parents must treat their children as they will be treated in the real world. They assert that parents must stop providing children with soft places to land and provide them with realistic consequences (your daughter forgets to feed her dog, you give it away for a few days without consulting her; a kid uses all his money and no longer has money for lunch. He asks if he can make his lunch from the food in the fridge. The parents agree but only under one condition: that he pays for it).
- Letting children deal with the consequences of their actions in childhood is less harmful than letting them deal with those consequences in adulthood.
- Helicopter parents (parents who smother their children with attention) fail to prepare them for the challenges in the real world by attempting to “save them” by doing everything for them. The authors argue that children must be taught to “think for themselves with an inner voice”. They must be taught to make good choices and to take ownership for their actions.
- The world is a tough place and is not as forgiving as parents. Children must therefore be prepared for real life. Love and logic encourages parents to use “natural consequences” that they define as an invaluable tool in raising children. Natural consequences means letting your child experience the natural consequences of his/her actions (you don’t pick up the toys he/she keeps forgetting outside – your child will learn a valuable lesson when the toys get messed (rain/mud)).
- Parents should focus on teaching serious lessons once. The book’s authors argue that well-taught lessons only have to be taught once. Love and Logic asserts that parents must give “real” lessons to teach their kids about consequences and ensure that they do not repeat unwanted behaviour.
Parenting with Love & Logic: The pros
The parenting philosophy behind Parenting with Love & Logic is awesome. Cline and Fay’s book is guided by very sound theory: children must be taught that choices have consequences and that they must learn to be accountable for their actions (or/and inaction). This book is therefore an invaluable tool to help parents teach their children about personal responsibility.
Love & Logic helps parents understand the logic behind setting boundaries and sticking to their guns. It teaches parents that with practice, they can keep their calm and reduce yelling.
Love & Logic shows parents that kids can learn to think of themselves as capable of solving their own problems from the youngest age.
Love & Logic is about teaching lessons “once”. Using natural consequences means that serious lessons need not be repeated. “Tough love” is about helping your children be more conscious of their choices and how those choices will affect them.
Parenting with Love & logic: The cons
- Although Love & Logic presents many techniques parents can use with their children, some of the ideas proposed in the book are not for the meek at heart. Some examples come off as “extremely tough love” and seem too harsh to apply, even with older children. (An example is the mother who refuses to give her son a ride (although he asks nicely) because the day before, he had refused to do something she had asked him to do).
2) There are many ways in which to approach difficult situations with children but Love and Logic stresses on Logic and toughness rather than on Love. Tough love is not the only way to teach responsibility and ownership for one’s actions. For instance, the book fails to explore other “more gentle” approaches such as how parents can use dialogue to help children become more accountable for their decisions.
3) Love & Logic is about teaching children that they alone have the solutions to their problems but isn’t that a rather limited vision of the world? What about asking for help? What about giving help? Do people deserve help when they screw up? When a family member or a friend needs help, should children let them “sort things out by themselves” to teach them about consequences or should they show more empathy? In my opinion, the book Love and Logic overlooks the fact that “no man is an island.”
4) Parenting with Love & Logic does not take dwell on children who couldn’t care less about consequences (and yes, those exist!). For instance, it doesn’t cover what parents can do when children prefer the consequences (prefer TV and video games to homework and thus good grades).
Who Will Parenting with Love & Logic Benefit?
Parenting with Love & Logic is best suited to parents able to appreciate the theory behind the book, wade through the examples, and adapt the key concepts to their own specific circumstances and to practices they would be comfortable using. Although the Love and Logic theory is awesome, it must be adapted to different children and different situations.
Parenting with Love & logic is a book that can help if you have out of control children. It can help you learn about setting boundaries and sticking to them. The book, however, might be less effective if you have special needs children who are likely to get upset by such an approach.