Machiavellian Mom

Machiavelli for Moms

Did anyone else see the piece on Suzanne Evans over the weekend? Here’s a link to the article I read, which is quoted below, if you’d like to take a peek. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323646604578400804035071688.html

Author of Machiavelli for Moms: Maxims on the Effective Governance of Children, Evans applies principles from Machiavelli’s The Prince to child rearing.

Some of what I read made me feel sad. Pitting the children against each other in a competition for better grades?

“Excellent!” I praised Teddy when she brought home a nearly perfect second-grade report card. I then rewarded her with a celebratory family dinner at the restaurant of her choice. On the other front, Daniel, whose report card wasn’t so stellar, got nothing, other than the shame of losing the competition—to his younger sister no less, as I reminded him.

I favor respecting all family members as individuals, with different gifts and interests. Family relationships are more important than grades, in my opinion. It is not worth putting that kind of wedge between siblings in an attempt to provide more motivation. If a family member struggles with a given subject, then support, don’t shame. And accept that not every person will be equally gifted in a given area. The idea of intentionally shaming a child upsets me. I’m a big believer in each person working to his or her own potential. Do your best. Don’t worry about what the person next to you is doing.

I also can’t get behind this:

So, to minimize resistance and feelings of unnecessary abandonment (“You’re going golfing? Can we come?!”), I told my kids that their dad and I were going away for the weekend on a business trip. And I didn’t feel a bit guilty about it. The result: When I returned home, I was well-rested and relaxed, and my kids, who had worn out their grandparents, were thrilled to have me and their dad back home.

In other words: Don’t feel guilty for lying to your kids if it makes you happy and relaxed…because having a happy, relaxed mom always benefits a child.

It might be easier in the moment to avoid a confrontation (and believe me, I hate confrontation), but I don’t think it is worth damaging the trust between parents and children in order to get away for a weekend. I see nothing wrong with taking that weekend away, only with lying about it.

While it sounds like Evans does offer some advice that I would agree with (such as providing children with a set amount of money and letting them decide how to use it ~ it’s great to teach the value of a dollar!), there is too much emphasis on results over relationships for my taste.

Parenting is hard work. I make mistakes. All. the. time. Even in my imperfection, I want my approach to be from a place of respect. I show them how to show respect by modeling respect in my treatment of them and others. I teach them how to be kind by modeling kindness. I teach them diligence by diligently going about my own work.

Whew! I am suddenly feeling overwhelmed.

It’s a work in progress.

Even if modeling my parenting style after Machiavelli results in high-achieving, well-behaved children, the cost is too high if it means breaking trust within the family.

What do you think?

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