Dr. Foster Cline
Feature interview with the
of Love and Logic
by Trish Gannon
Dr. Foster W. Cline is a licensed psychiatrist with decades of experience working with children. From his experience working with severely disturbed children all over the world, and his work instructing teachers in classroom management techniques, Cline, with co-author Jim Fay, developed the popular Love and Logic parenting program.
With eight books published, his contributions to the Love and Logic Institute, and a national lecture tour that puts him on the road four or five times a month, Cline has developed an international reputation as an expert in dealing with children. Hes also raised several children of his own, including three birth children, one adopted child, and three foster children.
Cline and Fays Parenting Teens with Love and Logic, is the most-loaned book in my personal library, and I was excited to speak with Foster Cline at his home on Sunnyside, where he lives with his wife, Hermie. An intelligent, thoughtful and very funny man, Cline didnt disappoint as we spent two hours in the sunshine talking about politics, children and parenting while Sam the Wonder Dog lay at our feet.
Q. So what is the Love and Logic approach to raising children?
Love and Logic allows and encourages children to make judgment calls, and doesnt fix it for them when theyre wrong and children are allowed to experience the consequences with empathy, but no rescue, of their choices. Normally, parents go around and they think all of their kids problems are their monkey and they end up living in a primate house themselves. And their kids act like monkeys. Love and Logic parents are less frustrated because they realize they can only control one person and themselves. Its the difference between saying Im leaving at 8, and you have to be ready, or saying, Im leaving at 8. Whether or not you are ready is up to you. Im happy to take people nude. It is an exercise in futility to try to control our kids behavior. We believe when people suffer, its a learning experience. Usually when you hear someone talking about the importance of suffering, its a great philosopher, a theologian, or a Love and Logic teacher. It certainly wont be your congressman. We now have a culture that encourages irresponsibility. When things go wrong, ergo, somebody is culpable and to blame. Even if I drink hot coffee, or smoke a cigarette. Love and Logic is counter-cultural (today) because it really emphasizes acceptance of consequences.
Q. Does that mean a parent should never rescue their child from the consequences of their decisions?
No. There are rules for rescue. There are times when people need help. But its never effective to go more than halfway for a chronic problem that people have caused themselves. For example, theres a kid who sits around the house all day and does nothing. And another kid is working hard and going to college and needs help with his tuition. To equate helping one with the other is not a valid comparison.
Q. What happens when a parent starts practicing Love and Logic principles with their children?
Whenever theres a change in direction it always causes an increase in friction, whether in parenting or in national policy. Things always get worse before they get better. Kids usually say things like You dont love me anymore, or I hate it when you talk like that. A Love and Logic response that kids really hate is when parents start saying Thats really sad for you. How are you going to deal with that? We teach that it takes one month of consistently practicing Love and Logic skills for every year (of a childs life).
Q. What question do parents ask you the most often?
Is it too late? Well, its never too late. But the older the child, the longer it takes for the effect to show. If you start out with little kids, they learn responsibility and decision-making and how to accept consequences. Then, when theyre teenagers, you dont have to change. (These principles) work right across the board.
Q. What is the biggest mistake that parents make with their children?
The first one is getting frustrated. Whenever you show negative emotion, it increases the problem, and showing frustration lets the kids know that they control the situation. The Old Testament is full of Gods frustration with his children. You cannot stop a kids self-destructive behavior. In Love and Logic, we teach that if (even) God cant control it, then the parent should back out. The second thing is parents think they have to rescue the kid. They make two basic errors and that its my responsibility to stop a child from doing something wrong, and that its my responsibility to fix it when they do. If the law said all drivers got a warning the first time they were caught speeding, wed all drive too fast. But if I expect consequences, then I am massively thankful on those rare occasions when I get a warning. A parent should always be seen as allowing consequences to fall.
Q. Does parenting have to be difficult?
We need to impact parents so they know raising kids can be a lot easier. Its no worse than any other job. The thing I emphasize is every job is massively easier with the right tools, techniques and attitude. It doesnt matter if youre changing the oil on the car or raising kids. Kids raised with Love and Logic generally end up brighter. They know their parents wont rescue them, so they tend to make better decisions.
Dr. Cline and Love and Logic materials can be reached throught the Love and Logic Institute at 1-800-338-4065 or on the web at www.netw.com/fostercline or www.loveandlogic.com