Doug and Deanne Walker have 19 children, 10 of whom are adopted. These loving parents have been up and down and all around adoption, and seem to me to be an endless bucket of adoption knowledge and wisdom. On top of that, the Walkers are welcoming, inviting, and friendly! This series of articles covers everything from being an organized home executive to failed adoptions to finding the right agency. So as you read, imagine taking a comfortable spot on Deanne’s sofa as she openly shares her insight into each topic.
What is Love and Logic Parenting? Essentially, it’s allowing natural consequences for actions.
However, when a child is too young to understand cause and effect, there needs to be some parental intervention. So, for example, if a child runs into the street when a car is coming, they’ll get hit by the car . . . natural consequence. But no parent will allow that to happen, so instead, the consequence of running toward the street becomes the loss of the privilege to let go of the parent’s hand. As children get older they are more able to handle natural consequences. For example, if a child doesn’t do his homework, he’ll get a failing grade for that assignment. In day-to-day life in the Walker home, love and logic parenting means that if you are unkind to your sister, you do something kind for that person. If you’re not ready then you’re removed from the situation and so no longer able to be unkind. You miss out on the opportunity to be with your sibling. Although parenting is unique to each child, there are still hard and fast rules in the Walker Home:
- Unkindness is never tolerated
- Everyone has chores
- When Mom and Dad speak, you obey in happiness
- No back-talking
Deanne and Doug know that none of us is perfect–we all make mistakes. And so when a family rule is not followed, the child is given an immediate opportunity to correct it. For example, when a Walker child doesn’t do her chore, Deanne may say, “I’m going to ask you again. If you respond correctly, then there won’t be another consequence. If you don’t respond correctly, you’ll get to practice.” (Getting to “practice” means being given more jobs to learn how to respond correctly.) Their logic is that practicing is what helps us to learn–the more we practice, the more quickly we’ll learn how to respond appropriately.
The purpose of this parenting style is to learn how to act in any given situation rather than reacting. I asked Deanne if the Walker parenting style varied according to their children’s diversified beginnings. And the answer is “no.” They parent all their children the same, but nurturing varies. And it’s not just about biological vs adopted. Deanne learned that behavior may have nothing to do with adoption. One of their biological children taught them that. “Biological and adopted–both need the same parenting. Lots of things that people think are adoption issues aren’t. If we hadn’t had some certain experiences with our biological son, we would have thought there were lots of adoption issues. I’ve learned not to buy into the thought that being adopted causes issues.”
And so all 18 of their children are parented alike. But the children’s early beginnings do mean that each of their eighteen children need personalized nurturing, especially when first joining the family. “It’s a balancing act. When an adopted child first comes into the family, regardless of his/her age, it helps to reflect back to what it is like bringing a baby home. Intense nurturing is required–from everyone, but especially from Mom. It takes a full year of intense parenting to meet the emotional needs of the new family member.” Mom’s sole job becomes nurturing–and not just for the new family member. As attention is given to the new child, Deanne is ever watchful of her other children, careful to spot early signs of being in need. “I have to be constantly aware, watching patterns and being ready to meet their needs.”
Love and Logic Parenting means that the parent is able to disassociate herself so she acts, rather than reacts, to properly discipline. It’s important to remember this is not about you, as a parent, it’s about the child When the parent acts out emotionally when a child needs correction–that is reacting–NOT teaching. Parents need to remove themselves emotionally in order to teach proper principles. There is no room in parenting to take offense or to become angry. Love and Logic Parenting is just that: Show forth consistent love by setting rules and logically disciplining in your child’s best interest.
More from the Walkers: