Over the years, I've described Parent Hacks as a blog full of "duct tape parenting tips."
During my first phone call with Bibliomotion, the then-potential publisher of Christine's and my book Minimalist Parenting, they mentioned they had one other parenting book in the pipeline. They were very excited about this book, titled Duct Tape Parenting. I took it as a signal of a relationship that was meant to be.
I have since come to know Vicki Hoefle, author of Duct Tape Parenting and founder of Parenting On Track, a popular six-week parenting course. As you know, I take expert advice on parenting with a grain of salt, but her approach immediately resonated with me because it's all about providing kids with clear guidance and then stepping back and letting them make their own decisions — and, in many instances, their own mistakes. In doing so, kids gain the skills and confidence they need as they head toward independence.
Yes, yes, yes! This so reflects my experience! Every time I argue and cajole, my kids' attention becomes focused on changing my behavior instead of theirs. When I trust them to make their own decisions, and then support them whatever the outcome, they learn, adjust and take responsibility.
We've all heard about the importance of natural consequences, but in Duct Tape Parenting, Vicki outlines how to adopt this mindset and approach in your own family.
I'm in the midst of my own "Duct Tape moment." Really, it's more the result of the "duct tape" approach we've taken with our kids' spending money, but I think it's a good example of what Vicki's talking about in Duct Tape Parenting.
Our kids are in charge of their own spending. We give them a large enough allowance to be meaningful, we coach them on ideas such as cost vs. value, skill-building vs. entertainment, and comparison shopping…and then we get out of the way. (This post describes our allowance and spending approach in detail.)
This summer, my son has taken quite an interest in video game programming. He just finished a fantastic summer class on the topic and is now looking to do more programming on his own, but he needs some software to do it. Because he must use his own money to buy the software, not only is he putting serious effort into researching the options, he's making smart decisions about the relative value of each software package.
- Which program will give him the most flexibility in terms of the games he wants to create?
- Can he download a free trial and try it out before he buys?
- Should he put off buying a new Wii game he's been wanting in order to afford the more full-featured programming software?
He's also keeping a running total in his head: how much money he has, how much he can earn, and how much he would need to spend.
I never had that much financial savvy when I was his age. The beauty part: this is his accomplishment and has taken less work for us as parents.
If you find yourself arguing, cajoling, and negotiating a bit too much with your kids, give Duct Tape Parenting a read. It's a refreshing reminder that doing less is often the answer (a message dear to my heart).
Duct Tape Parenting: A Less Is More Approach to Raising Respectful, Responsible, and Resilient Kids (Bibliomotion, August 2012), is available at bookstores nationwide, as well as on all major online retailers, including Amazon, B&N, Indiebound, and others.
More: Hacks about allowance and spending money
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