One part of the book I will never forget is this, the section on gun safety:
With our first toddler, I placed an old, unused and empty, single-shot shot-gun in the living room corner. After taking the toddler through the "No" saying, hand-switching sessions, they knew guns were always off limits. Every day they played around the gun without touching it. I never had to be concerned with their going into someone else's house and touching a gun. I didn't gun-proof my house, I gun-proofed my children.Because locking up the darn gun after every time you use it is just too much trouble, I guess. And because a child is supposed to know to avoid all types of guns (even toy guns I imagine) based on the one type of gun used for the lesson. It's not surprising, having read the rest of the book, because the whole idea of their "parenting style" is to completely kill any curiosity in their children for the sake of parental convenience.
While most of us never would go to such extremes, I think we can learn something from the ridiculousness of this idea.
I'm talking about the times we leave our children in a room with a bowl full of popcorn, or a glass of cranberry juice on a low table. Or the times we walk away talking on the phone while they are playing at the bathroom sink. When we set up these situations, do we expect that our toddlers know better than to dump popcorn on the carpet, juice on the couch, or water all over the floor?
Once I was at my parents' house with the kids, and Emmitt was on the floor, about six months old. I walked out of the room for one minute to grab a snack for my daughter Louise, who was two. When I heard the baby gasping for breath, I ran back into the room to find Louise standing on her infant brother's back, playing the piano. I was shocked. I took Louise off of Emmitt and held him close. It was scary, but he was fine after he calmed down.
I told Louise how dangerous it was to stand on the baby, but I could tell she really did not get it. I realized after that day, that it was not fair of me to expect Louise to understand about keeping the baby safe. It was my job to keep both of the kids safe. It was my job to try not to leave them alone in a situation that could turn dangerous.
Now that they are four and two years old, I can leave them in the living room or the bedroom together for short periods of time while I take a shower or make food. But I have gotten better at reading them. I know it's not safe to leave them when one of them is cranky, so I try to bring one with me. I know it's not safe to leave them when one of them has a special toy the other one wants.
I am not training my children to parent themselves, as I think the Pearls tried to do. I am not training them to avoid dangerous situations all by themselves before they are developmentally able to do so. To act perfectly even in my absence. I am not training them not to hit each other by using punishments. At this point, they both know that hitting hurts. It's not that I need to teach them that lesson. What I want them to learn is that I am here to protect them. I am here to prevent the opportunities for them to hurt each other, and to hug and comfort them if I can't prevent it.
If something happens when I am out of the room, it is my fault, not theirs. I apologize for leaving them alone and we can all move on. There is no need to blame or punish the kids. No matter how hard you try, you can't be sure that you have gun-proofed your child so you can comfortably leave the child alone with it. Locking up the gun is the better option.
Do you expect your toddler to know better even when he has proven he does not?
Before you tell me, Your children are going to grow up not knowing that hitting is wrong... I assure you, they already know it is wrong. Even now, at such young ages, never having been punished, never having been forced to say sorry, both of my kids will freely and genuinely apologize to one another after an altercation. It is a beautiful thing.