What do you make of parenting advice from Nadya Suleman?
You probably know her better as Octomom, and her latest incarnation (after trying her hand at stripping, and singing and porn videos and reality TV and dating for cash) is blogging over on mamapedia.com about discipline.
In a post that is both more revealing and less persuasive than she intends, Suleman describes her own childhood, raised by parents who were overly permissive. Among the "unhealthy repercussions" of that, she writes, is it left her "always wanting more and more." Such as a total of 14 children, perhaps?
She vowed to do things differently, she writes, but failed with each of her first six kids. "My ineffective way to discipline was yelling empty threats, such as...'when we get home, you will go immediately into time out!' -- and of course, it would never happen."
She saw the light, though, when her next eight babies arrived, all at once, in January of 2009. No more screaming empty threats. Now, from what I can tell, she whispers them:
if one hit or bit another, I would sit on the ground at their level, look directly into his or her eyes, and firmly, yet calmly, say to be gentle and remind them we do not hurt others. Most importantly, I would use 'soft touch' to show them what to do. I would hold my hand over his or her hand, and gently stroke the child that was hurt.
Age appropriate time-outs are part of her arsenal, too, she writes. Her son Jeremiah, who she describes as a "major biter" would get a one-minute time out when he was one, and a two-minute time out when he was two. Then, she writes:
I would again sit at the child's level (very important so he or she does not feel intimidated or shamed by a tall mom talking down to them) and describe why he was in time out. In this case, I would then instruct Jeremiah to go 'say sorry' for hurting his brother or sister, to "show gentle" and give a hug. I tell him we all need to be soft and gentle, not hurtful.
I have a question. If this method was so effective, why, by her description, did the child bite again and again and again for two years?
For three years I have been simultaneously alarmed by and distressed for Suleman. I think she is an example of technology without restriction (no doctor should transfer that many embryos at one time, and no patient with six children should pass screening procedures in the first place.) But I also want her to do this parenting thing well, because the alternative is the ruination of 14 children. Posts like these show she wants to do well, too, but doesn't know how.
Any advice from readers on where she might begin?