Love and Logic Parenting

Jim Fay, the famous child psychiatrist, is a co-author of a series of books for parents who want to raise their children with ‘love and logic’. Let us talk about the book written in association with Foster Cline, MD, namely “Parenting with Love and Logic: Teaching Children Responsibility” as an assisting tool to grow up motivated and self-confident kids prepared to face this world with all its challenges. With this book in their hands, parents become capable to teach their children to be responsible persons and learn the logic of life through getting the opportunities to resolve various life issues at the earliest age possible. Before starting the analysis, it is important to mention that although created in 1990, the book went through several revisions and was updated by its authors to make it compliant with the actual needs of nowadays parents.

Basically, the book describes how to establish positive environment where the children can learn by allowing them to control their insignificant choices and face the consequences depending on the chosen options until the desired result is achieved. Also, great insight is provided on how such positive atmosphere helps children to develop certain positive habits.

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Among numerous book reviews, a few negative feedbacks can be found. Some people are concerned about political correctness, others – with physical methods mentioned in the book. Jim Fay explains that

“the previous position we outlined on spanking in the book “Parenting with Love and Logic”, unfortunately was our thinking as of 1990 when the book was written. Since then our knowledge has grown. The world we live in changed, and we have developed new techniques that are far more effective than spanking” (Fay, 2006).

Nevertheless, the book is considered to be a useful and handy parenting tool by most of its readers. As stated above, the authors do their best in keeping the books on love and logic parenting up-to-date. Moreover, all the latest updates to the whole concept of such parenting methods can be found on their official website, including the articles related.

Now, let us get back to the book and its authors. Being experts in their professional areas, such as educational consultancy and child psychiatry, both authors made an excellent tandem in producing a very clearly written and practical book that applies a win-win approach essential for raising responsible kids. They founded entire philosophy grounded on the combined experience of raising children and working with them for over 75 years, which provides certain techniques, practical and simple at the same time, that greatly contribute to the process of teaching and parenting by reducing stress and making it just funny. Those techniques offered in the book are useful to parents and teachers who are welcome to start experimenting with them anytime they want. For example, some of them are the following:

·      Locking-in sadness or empathy before delivering consequences

·      Setting limits with enforceable statements

·      Sharing control through lots of small choices (Cline & Fay, 1990).

Every successful parent should learn how to use diff?rent appr?aches with their children because they live in the world that is complex and changing rapidly. There were numerous bygone approaches in our culture people were raised with. Modern times has outgrown many of them except for the one authors have built their philosophy upon, and which is love. Throughout the entire book Cline and Fay insist that effective parenting should be focused around love. They encourage avoiding pessimist and applying love. It should be strong enough to be intolerant to disrespect and at the same time strong enough to let children make their own mistakes. Moreover, in these techniques the logic is focused on the very consequences of their choices and mistakes. It greatly illustrates how to express real empathy while allowing such consequences to happen.

It is not a secret that all parents wish their beloved offsprings to become responsible adults, therefore the book shares numerous ways how parents can raise them in love but with a good sense of maturity and personal limits. A great part of this process includes treating the kids with respect and letting them make mistakes and face personal failures. Thus, these materials are definitely suitable for self-help in daily life. They are learning to be love-and-logic parents who can easily handle any situation without yelling or spanking their children, in a diplomatic way, with common sense and a great portion of humor. The book is applicable to wide range of ages, from toddlers to teenagers. Again, it is centered on establishing trusting and loving relationships between parents and children.

The general idea of the book conveys the authors’ outlook on parenting, namely what the latter aim to accomplish, what behaviour they want to redirect in their children, and what roads to go for resolving the issues their children have, – all in the most positive ways. There are many specific tips in the book, which are intended for helping to handle major life situation, especially case-studies and examples.

One of a numerous medical reviews of the book states that

“there are many effective parenting styles. Training children to develop responsibility while putting the fun back into parenting are the goals of parenting methods known as Love and Logic parenting. The Love and Logic system has been described and advanced by Jim Fay, a former school principal and renowned education consultant,…and a child psychiatrist Foster Cline, MD.

“The idea behind the book ‘Parenting with Love and Logic: Teaching Children Responsibility’ is this: Parents should provide an atmosphere of love, acceptance and empathy while allowing the natural consequences of a child’s behavior and actions to do the teaching. This should happen in the early years, when the consequences of the inevitable less-than-perfect choices are not too severe or damaging. By the time the child reaches adulthood, he or she is equipped with the decision-making skills needed for adult life. The method presented in the book also teaches insight into parenting styles and how our parenting styles can, inadvertently, sometimes rob a child of the ability to grow up making good decisions for  him- or herself. It’s applicable to all children from toddlers to teens.

“The Love and Logic method advocates offering choices that are acceptable to the parent, so it isn’t about letting 3-year-old choose whether they want to play in the street or the fenced yard and letting them suffer the dire consequences of a poor decision. Instead, the parent is encouraged to offer children a range of age-appropriate and acceptable choices in order to experience the teaching value of their decisions” (Stoppler, 2008).

Now, let us shift our attention to the content of the book. The authors start with teaching parents how to develop ‘relational building blocks’ required for effective parenting. They illustrate poor parenting style with a vivid life scene:

“It’s Saturday at the local supermarket. Two boys, ages five and seven, have declared war. Like guerrillas on a raiding party, they sneak from aisle to aisle, hiding behind displays and squeaking their tennis on the tile floor.  A crush – the result of a game of ‘shopping cart chicken’ – punctures the otherwise calming background Muzak. The mother, having lost sight of this self-appointed commando unit, abandons her half-filled cart. As she rounds a corner, her scream turns the heads of other shoppers: ‘Don’t get lost! Don’t touch that! You – get over here!’ The mom races the boys, and she’s about to grab two sweaty necks, they turn to Tactic B – ‘the split up’, a 1990s version of ‘divide and conquer’. Now she must run in two directions to shout at them. Wheezing with exertion, she corrals the younger one, who just blitzed the cereal section, leaving a trail of boxes. But when she returns him to her cart, the older boy is gone. She locates him in produce, rolling seedless grapes like marbles across the floor. After scooping up Boy Number Two and carrying him back, you guessed it, Boy Number One has disappeared. Mom sprints from her cart once more. Finally, after threatening murder and the pawning of their Nintendo game, the boys are gathered… Frazzled, harried, and broken, Mom finally surrenders and buys off her precious flesh and blood with candy bars – a cease fire that guarantees enough peace to finish her rounds” (Cline & Fay, 2006) . Quite a typical situation, isn’t it?

 Although the book centers its concept on parenting love towards their children, sometimes there can be way too much of it, that leads to poor results. One of the negative parenting styles mentioned in the book is a ‘helicopter parent’. The authors say that

“it’s just the wrong kind of love. How can this happen?… Some parents think love means rotating their lives around their children” (Cline & Fay, 1990). Do we know any of those personally? Another one is a ‘drill sergeant’ who treats kids like they are military servants. There is definitely much more logic then love in such parental method.

The editorial review from Library Journal confirms that

“helicopter parents hover around their children while ‘drill sergeant’ parents give orders to theirs… Neither of these styles permits children to learn how to make choices and learn from the consequences. The result is that as early as adolescence these children too often make bad decisions. In the context of healthy, loving relationship, ‘Love and Logic’ parents teach their children responsibility and the logic of life by solving their own problems, providing skills for coping in the real world” (Hilyard, 1997).

Then the authors proceed with the numerous tips and examples. The book seems to be applicable to almost any situation that might ever happen between parents and kids. The topics grasp all aspects of children’s daily life, such as bedtime, mealtimes, staying in bed or getting up on time, doing homework, cleaning or doing other chores (especially in their own bedrooms), following rules, handling money, grades, friendship, etc. It provides tactics on dealing with various problems like phone or conversation interruptions, lying, stealing, talking back, bad language, conflicts between siblings, and so on. Moreover, it contains useful tips on how to act with kids when parents are getting divorced, and much more. For example, the topic on ‘When to Step in, When to Stay out of Kid’s problems’ helps parents to learn that in some cases kids need neither their good advice, nor any other kinds of parental intrusions. Therefore, each parent will be certainly able to work out their own parenting style best suitable to their kids. In addition, Love and Logic parenting pearls embrace truly precious information on all these topics and provide specific recommendations for each case.

Talking about the patterns, Melissa Conrad Stoppler, MD, continues that

“an example of the Love and Logic theory might be allowing a second-grader to decide how much he prepares for a spelling test. If he says he doesn’t need to study and ends up with a poor grade, that’s a teaching consequence. When he is upset about the grade, the parent then steps in as a source of empathy (‘gosh, I’m so sorry that happened’) without any sarcasm or proclaiming ‘I told you so’. This way, parents are providing unconditional love and support, and hopefully the child learns the importance of preparing for tests before he is away at college where there’s no mom or dad to goad him into studying. One could argue that the bad grade on one test in second grade is an affordable consequence while a failed course at college is not. Using Love and Logic to help children learn decision-making lets them learn from consequences of their actions before the consequences become too big and far-reaching” (Stoppler, 2008).

Instead of discussing all book topics one by one, which can be quite time-consuming, let’s focus on the major principles it presents, mentioned above, such as ‘locking-in sadness or empathy before delivering consequences’, ‘setting limits with enforceable statements’, and ‘sharing control through lots of small choices’.

First, let’s talk about the importance of empathy. Love is a hard thing to stick to, especially in certain situations. Sometimes it’s a challenge to apply Love and Logic, not Lecture and Logic. While empathy is a key, retaining of such a positive habit is not as simple as it seems, but it is a key that opens all the doors and makes all working. Another famous co-author of several Cline & Fay’s books, Dr. Charles Fay, writes

“All I have to do is lock in a strong dose of sadness or empathy before delivering consequences. ‘What a bummer… you guys have been fighting over the remote control. I bet if you did some chores together, that would help you learn to cooperate.’ That seems easy… or is it? All’s good and fine until the rubber hits the pavement in our own homes… (There is) a variety of strategies for helping parents use empathy…even when they don’t feel like it. One of these strategies involves saying to your child: ‘I’m going to have to do something about this…but not now…later. I make better decisions when I’m calm. We’ll talk then” (Fay, 2008).

Also, the authors once and again highlight the importance of limitations. It can be done, they write, by mean of the enforceable statements. “Another aspect of Love and Logic parenting is the focus on ‘enforceable’ versus ‘non-enforceable statements. As an example, assume that a 13-year-old is refusing to clean her room. If the parent dictates, ‘Clean your room now!’ (a non-enforceable statement, since no one can physically force a child to complete a task) and she refuses, the child is in control of the situation. In this situation, the parent can maintain control by focusing on his or her own actions and using enforceable statements like ‘I’ll be happy to drive you to basketball practice when your room is clean” (Stoppler, 2008).

Here are some other examples of enforceable statements: “I wash all the clothes that are in the hamper”, “I loan the car when I don’t have to be worried about drinking and driving”, “I listen to others when they speak with quiet voices” (Cline & Fay, 1990).

The best way to teach children responsibility is allowing them to share control via small choices they make. This principle includes several simple rules to make it work, such as giving only two options, the options should fit parent’s system of values, choices should not cause problems to parent, child or anyone else, and parents can decide for kids if they don’t make it within 10 seconds. Such simple choices can deal, for instance, with chores (“Are you doing dishes or dusting?”) or diet (“Are you having tomatoes or peas for vegetables?”) as well as anything else.

Responsibility, like many other skills in this world, should be learned through practice. Therefore, the book first of all teaches parents to be creative and use their imagination. Despite the fact that all examples provided in the book can be used in daily life, good parents will have to invent something new every day.  They may apply it literally in the beginning but smartly at later stages making the strategies working for their kids as effectively as possible in every separate case.

The importance of limitations is also underlined in the book. Loving parents understand that restrictions are essential for their kid’s growth. The rules once set should be followed without exceptions.

“Sylvia has eight kids. Every time I visited her home, I saw her handing money to them. One day I asked, ‘What is this with you dishing out money all the time?’

‘We give our kids loans in the household because we’re learning about the world of finance’, Sylvia answered as she handed 50 cents to Joshua. ‘Our loans are just like in the First National Bank, with due dates, promissory notes, and collateral. Why, just the other day I repossessed a $29 tape recorder.’

‘Must have been sad for Joshua’, I said.

‘Not really’, Sylvia replied. It’s a gift. Because now Joshua, who is only about ten years old, knows about the responsibility of paying back his loans; he knows all about promissory notes and collateral, and even repossession – and it only cost him a $29 tape recorder.

‘Timothy, my neighbor kid’, Sylvia continued, “learned the same lesson when the bank came and repossessed his $4900 Camaro. He had to wait until he was twenty six to learn it because his parents protected him because he was young. My Joshua has a sixteen-year head start on Timothy” (Cline & Fay, 1990).

The book’s vivid illustrative language, like in this story about a typical Love and Logic mom, makes all scenes easy to imagine. Moreover, many parents often face them personally. It is about real life of real families based on many years of studies and researches. For all these reasons the book has become and is still very popular among its readers.

Thanks to a win-win philosophy applied in the book, it is a good cheer-up for everyone with the feeling of failure as a parent. The book provides all the necessary tools to make parenthood time joyful and fun for those using love and logic. Even parents with the most challenging children can gain the hope of their individual ability to influence their kids.  Numerous positive results are witnessed already.

To sum up, have to say that this approach works best for all parents and all kids no matter of their lifestyle, job schedule or age.


Cline, F.W. & Fay, J. (1990). Parenting With Love and Logic: Teaching Children Responsibility. Pinon Press: Return to the Hardcover Edition 2006

Fay, C. (2005). Taking the Stress Out of Raising Great Kids. Love & Logic Press

Stoppler, M.C. Parenting With Love and Logic. (2008). Editorial Review. Web site:

Hilyard, N.B. (1997). Review from Library Journal. Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.



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