Sunday, July 20, 2008

command climate (sorry--is it stealing if I credit the source? Thanks W.)

La yen's husband just posted an excellent and thought-provoking post about Army leadership. Why am I bringing it up here? Because the philosophy behind the type of "command climate" he discusses has been the foundation for some of my parenting beliefs and the way I try to parent. I want us to discuss.

These are the questions W. asked (replace "soldiers" with "children"):

"What are you doing to motivate your Soldiers? Do they work for you out of a fear of repercussion or out of respect for you? Do they trust that you are tactically and technically proficient, that you know the mission and your unit's role in it? Do they feel that you are actively protecting their interests and placing their needs above your own? Do you praise in public and punish in private? Do you conduct frequent counselings, either formal or informal, to let those around you know where they stand?

When I was a kid I obeyed mostly out of fear. It was the belt or the boot if I was way out of line (please don't get the wrong idea about my parents--they were and are good people--they were just doing it how it was done back then). But I felt conflicted about it. I remember as a child contemplating how I would want my kids to respect me because I deserved it, not because they were afraid of me; I wanted them to obey out of love, respect and goodness, not out of fear.

As I said I've only been moderately (on some days barely--last night hardly) successful at parenting in this way. There have been shortcomings and failures. But at the same time it feels right to me. And I have witnessed moments of goodness, honesty and genuineness (sometimes even when the rest of the outcome was not exactly what I intended) that pleased me and made me feel good about my beliefs and my efforts.

What do you think about this style of parenting? Are the results desirable? Could side affects or unintended consequences occur? Is it possible and/or practical to achieve with a three-year-old? What about a thirteen-year-old? How does one accomplish this style of parenting? What are the day-to-day applications?

What command climate do you seek as a mother. How do you attain it?


Mrs. Organic said...

I just watched a talk by John Lund on the Art of Parenting - he had some great ideas about ways to do this.

The one thing I need to remember (and keep forgetting) is that my children are each different and respond to different styles of parenting. But they all respond to a philosophy of respect.

Julie Q. said...

(I came over here from Segullah) You raise some very interesting questions. I struggle with the same issue in my parenting style. I think my kids sometimes take advantage of my tendency to be nice instead of commanding, but then again, I'm glad they don't fear me...I'm especially glad they feel like they could come talk to me about anything that's bothering them. As they get closer to teenage-hood, this is particularly important.

Have you read "Unconditional Parenting" by Alfie Kohn? It's quite a shift from traditional approaches but it has truly expanded my way of looking at the parent/child relationship. I'm not saying I'm successful at applying all of his ideas, but I do like to read it again from time to time--and renew my resolve to not manipulate my children into "behaving" the way most convenient for me at the expense of their own spirits.

b. said...

I think we have to find a good balance.
I try not parent with the iron fisted/fear based "motivation" my parents used, however, I try not to parent from the baggage it left me with either. That is fear based too.
Kids can smell fear.
Don't think they won't use it.
Like Corrie said, what works with one doesn't necessarily work with another.

swedemom said...

My parents had a type of no-questions allowed parenting. It was very very frustrating as a child. Consequently, I have real problems with any type of authority exercised over me by others because I feel like a child.

But I tend to fall into the trap with my own kids. I really, really struggle with it.

I wish I had better answers and better parenting skills.

Nigel said...

I'm not a mom, but I'd love to read that article in its entirety. By the way, I was in the army and recognize those leadership styles all too well.

Respect-based leaders tended to have graduated from the Citadel (an academy in South Carolina) and the fear-based often came from West Point. There was a third style of officer I noticed, the selfish leader. It was all about how it reflected on them as an individual. It had nothing to do with the personnel or the mission, it was all about the leader's reputation. They didn't want to "look bad".

By the way, there's an article by Hugh Nibley about the difference between leaders and managers. It will pop up if you google a bit. Think of it as a companion piece.

La Yen said...

Nigel, I love your art. If I had the money I would cover my home with it.

Here is the link to that post:

Nigel said...