Re: DSM: RE: pre-Sudbury parental conduct
Wed, 10 Jan 2001 09:40:34 EST

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 From: []

 So how does one treat a baby when one espouses the philosophy of Sudbury?
 Do you clap and say "Good job!" when the baby hits the peg on the head or
 goes potty, or do you just look at them stony-faced? Somewhere in the
 middle, I would think, but what is that? I'm interested in hearing how
 people who have been through this with their own babies have experienced it.

Before having a child, I always said that I couldn't wait to see what I
actually _did_ as a parent, given my strong beliefs in the Sudbury model and
all its implications for child-rearing. I always knew that it's one thing to
say one "should" do this or that, and another when you're actually dealing
with your own kids. I was very curious to see what that "other" thing would
be with my kids. A year and a half ago I had my first child, and it's been
educational, all right! I think about these kinds of questions all the time
and try to pay very close attention to my interactions with my son. It's very
important to me that I be respectful of him in all ways, that I support him
in being himself completely, that I give him room to grow along with love and

But okay, I admit it, I'm not perfect at it. The other day he was eating
Hershey's Kisses one after another, which I was not thrilled about, but had
only myself to blame for leaving them right there on the coffee table, and
after he had opened and eaten about four he started asking me to open them
for him. And I actually said, "If you can open them yourself then you have to
do that - I don't want to help you eat those." Oy!

The good news is that I'm pretty good about catching myself. About one minute
after I refused to help him open the kisses I remembered being a staff member
in an SM school, where the practice reflected a genuine value of mine - that
if someone asks for help, _you give it_. Duh. So I opened as many kisses as
he wanted, silently vowing that I'd learned my lesson and would never leave
large quantities of chocolate lying aroung again.

Now as for cheering the peg being hit on the head - I have noticed that there
are plenty of times when I join in the "hurrah!" of victory with him, which
might look like praising him but is really pretty different. If he's working
really hard at hitting that peg (this is just the kind of thing he works hard
at), finally gets it and exclaims with pride, it is a completely gut reaction
on my part to rejoice with him. I usually say things like "wahoo!" or "wow,
you got it!" rather than, "good job - can you do it again?" But, it is true
that I will have to be ever-vigilant to make sure that he does not begin to
take my reaction as the true reward for hitting the peg on the head. When
adults interact with kids they always have to be aware of the power and
status relationships that can produce this kind of unintended consequence.

Forgive my tome - as I said, I love to think about this sort of thing, and I
am very interested to hear other people's thoughts.


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