Transforming families around the world
P.O. Box 206, Goleta, CA 93116 U.S.A.
(805) 968-1868 (phone and fax)
Comments to the Aware Parenting Institute
Comments received in 2002
(The most recent comments are at the bottom of the page)
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We welcome your comments about Aware Parenting and this web site. We reserve the right to post anything you write to us on our page of comments, and to edit it as needed. Please give us your name, city and country. This is an archived page. Please see our current comments page.
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Please note that this is not a personal advice column. If you are a parent in need of advice or support, please visit our Parent Support Page or schedule a telephone consultation with Dr. Solter. Click here for more information about her consultations.
March 5, 2002
Aware Parenting is a refreshing approach to child-rearing for parents, but I think schools need help implementing and using this philosophy, too. I stumbled on your site researching ways to help my bright, articulate, curious 9-year-old son with what appears to be an increasing temper problem at school....
I am printing your "Twenty Alternatives to Punishment" for them, but I already know what they will say: "This works fine for parents at home, but at school, we have 20 to 30 children to work with. We can't operate this way." ...
Are there any resources for implementing this type of philosophy in school? So much of what they do is contrary to the philosphies of the "Aware Parenting" approach.
Thank you for this important work. I hope you will extend your work into the school if you haven't already!
Davis, CA, U.S.A.
REPLY FROM ALETHA SOLTER
Thank you for your comments and interest in Aware Parenting. One way that teachers implement democratic discipline at school is by having class meetings. My work is not specifically for teachers, so I have not described this process in them. If your son has frequent temper tantrums, either at home or at school, I recommend that you read my book, Tears and Tantrums. This may give you some insight into the underlying stresses that are causing the tantrums.
March 6, 2002
I came from an East Indian society where maternal closeness is cherished. All the children are doted upon and there is a very close social bond among family members including the grandparents. Children often sleep with the grandparents when a mother is nursing or taking care of a younger sibling. I still recall the warm hugs I would get from my grandparents and uncles and aunts. They represesented surrogate extended parents.
Los Angeles, CA, U.S.A.
July 12, 2002
At last a sensitive and human alternative way to raise children! I like your theory on listening actively to a child's emotions, and resolving conflicts without violence. However, Aware Parenting requires spending a lot more time with your children, and it is sometimes almost impossible in families with several children (we have had three children in 18 months, including twins, and the oldest is now 4 1/2). They very often request attention all at the same time for different reasons. Your theories enable me to build up more wisdom as a parent, but because they require me to find a treasure of patience in myself, they were nearly not applicable when my children were all babies. Do you have any suggestions or comments for parents who are often overwhelmed by circumstances with no help around?
Cagliari, Sardinia, Italy
REPLY FROM ALETHA SOLTER
Thank you for your comments and interest in Aware Parenting. Yes, it is difficult to raise children the way I recommend, especially if you have several children close together in age, like you do. My advice is to get as much help as you can, and try not to isolate yourself with your children. We all need to be around other adults, and we need a tremendous amount of help if we are to give children all the attention they need from us. Our family structure in industrialized nations is not the best suited for raising children. The human species evolved in clans of extended families, where aunts, uncles, cousins, siblings, and grandparents all lived in close proximity. There were probably always enough adults around to help take care of the children. So we need to create our own clans or tribes so that we will obtain the help we need.
July 12, 2002
We need alternatives to punitive action in schools. Too many children are being kicked out, left to become a statistic in the court system, or the public assistance system. We need altermatives to suspension and expulsion.
REPLY FROM ALETHA SOLTER
I agree! Punishment doesn't work in the long run, either at home or at school.
August 11, 2002
COMMENT RECEIVED IN FRENCH (see English translation below)
Je suis Française et j'ai trois enfants: l'ainé de cinq ans et des jumeaux de quatre ans. Je suis les principes d'écoute des pleurs et des colères d'après les livres d'Aletha Solter depuis quasiment la naissance des jumeaux. Je peux dire que ces techniques associées à la pratique d'écoute et de décharge de mes propres émotions (grâce à la co-écoute) m'ont sauvé la "belle" vie. Sans savoir comment écouter les pleurs de décharge spontanée et les frustrations, je pense que je taperais mes enfants, submergée par des sentiments d'impuissance. Malgré d'ailleurs ces pratiques, il m'arrive exceptionnellement de "craquer" et d'être violente, mais je peux imaginer que sans elles ce serait mille fois pire. Je trouve que de s'occuper d'enfants rapprochés en âge est très difficile, et d'écouter leurs émotions aussi quand elles s'expriment en même temps.
En particulier, ma difficulté concerne les conflits: j'aimerais pouvoir séparer les protagonistes, écouter l'agressé, et écouter l'agresseur. C'est presque impossible et générateur de tensions chez moi (le fait de ne pouvoir le faire). En fait j'adhère totalement aux principes d'écoute des émotions des enfants et parfois je me sens frustrée de savoir exactement ce qu'il faudrait faire et de ne pouvoir le faire, bien faute de ressources humaines (quand je suis seule avec les trois!). En tous cas, merci à Aletha Solter pour ses livres qui m'aident beaucoup.
I am French and I have three children: the oldest is five years old, and I have four-year-old twins. Practically since the birth of the twins, I have been following the principles of listening to crying and raging according to Aletha Solter's books. I can say that the techniques involving listening and releasing my own emotions (thanks to co-counseling) have "saved" my life. If I didn't know how to listen to spontaneous discharge crying and frustrations, I think that my overwhelming feelings of powerlessness would cause me to hit my children. However, in spite of these techniques, once in a while I do fall apart and become violent, but I suspect that without them it would be much worse. I find that taking care of children close together in age is very difficult, and listening to their emotions as well, when they are all expressing themselves at the same time.
In particular, my difficulty concerns their fights: I would like to be able to separate the protagonists, listen to the victim, and listen to the aggressor. This is practically impossible, and it generates tension in me because I am unable to do it. In fact, I totally agree with the principles of listening to children's emotions, and sometimes I feel frustrated because I know exactly what needs to be done, but I can't do it because of lack of human resources (when I am alone with the three of them!). At any rate, thanks to Aletha Solter for her books, which have helped me tremendously.
September 4, 2002
I don't know how I can thank you! My child is eight months old. Without this book, Pleurs et colères des enfants et des bébés, (English title: Tears and Tantrums) his life would be a disaster. Why doesn't anybody know this technique in Canada? I asked everybody (hospital, psychologist) and nobody told me about this....I was searching in a library and the answer was there...I am sure that there are a lot of people here in Canada who would want to know about this approach...You are a very important person for me and I will remember you all my life!
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
September 29, 2002
I am a 32-year old mother of two. I am non-spanking. How nice it was to find your website. I live in the Mid-West where it is thought that if children are not spanked then they are spoiled. I have actually been criticized for my decision to not spank! I have very well-behaved children who have never felt physical pain from me.
Miami, Oklahoma, U.S.A.
November 8, 2002
I've just discovered your website through a peer graduate student enrolled in an Early Childhood class on "Creating Partnerships with Families." As part of our coursework we are to review and critique eight websites on parenting throughout the semester. And your website, in my opinion, is top-rate and very informative. There are numerous parenting models and techniques available, but your philosophy is straightforward, logical, and reasonable. I agree completely with all of your viewpoints, but one in particular that stands out is your principle number 10, where you suggest that "Aware parents strive to be aware of the ways in which their own childhood pain interferes with their ability to be good parents, and they make conscious efforts to avoid passing on their own hurts to their children." I think this is so important, as parents more often than not raise children the way they were raised, which in the past may have been an emphasis on using power-assertive or authoritarian methods, like "Do As I say, Not as I do," which, as you know, do not work in the short or long run. I also have a 5 1/2 year-old whom I raised with unconditional love, and picked her up whenever she cried (against my mother's and mother-in-law's advice), and today she is a very well-adjusted, delightful, and happy child. Your philosophies and principles need to be more wide-spread.
(Note: to see the list of Principles of Aware Parenting that she is referring to, please click here.)
Berkeley Heights, New Jersey, U.S.A.
November 30, 2002
I belong to an email list for Spanish speaking mothers who are breastfeeding past the age of one year. Recently, someone mentioned the works of Dr. Solter, and a heated debate ensued on whether she favoured extendended breastfeeding or not. Since I was not aware of her works at all, I decided to do a little checking. After reading your website I realise her philosophy has many similarities to the Attachment Parenting approach of others, such as Sears & Sears. Nevertheless, I have found next to nothing about breastfeeding on this website. Her approach seems to favour it, yet my friends on our list had found her works, when translated into Spanish, were not very sympathetic to extended breastfeeding and its benefits to the child. Although I haven't read anything I don't like in Dr. Solter's works, I haven't seen anything which describes the benefits of the breastfeeding philosophy either (such as the La Leche League approach), on this website. I'm wondering why not. Otherwise, a very good website, and I'll certainly check out Dr. Solter's works on my own.
REPLY FROM ALETHA SOLTER
Thank you for your comments and interest in Aware Parenting. I am very supportive of extended breastfeeding. In fact, I nursed both of my children until they weaned themselves at about two-and-a-half years of age.
On our home page there is a list of the three main components of Aware Parenting. "Attachment-style parenting" is one of the major components, and under this category, one of the items mentioned in the list is "Prolonged breastfeeding." This is an important aspect of Aware Parenting.
Our web site contains several articles by me, as well as excerpts from my books. These articles address various aspects of Aware Parenting, but they do not address everything, which is why you did not find any articles specifically about the topic of breastfeeding.
Even though this information is not posted on our site, an entire section of my book, The Aware Baby, is devoted to the benefits of breastfeeding for both the mother and the baby. (The Spanish title of this book is Mi bebé lo entiende todo.) In another section, I discuss the question of when and how to wean a baby. Here is an excerpt from that section:
"The longer you nurse your baby, the more he will benefit from the immunological and nutritional benefits of breast milk. You and your baby will also benefit from that special feeling of closeness that breastfeeding provides. In most traditional cultures, babies are breastfed for at least two years, and sometimes for as long as five or six years. So don't be surprised if your baby is not ready to give up the breast until he is several years old....I recommend nursing your baby for at least a year if possible. After that, you can continue to nurse as long as you are both enjoying it."
December 2, 2002
We would like to thank you for the support we got from your book, De taal van huilen (English title: Tears and Tantrums). Our daughter, who is eight months old now, cried a lot during the first months of her life. The ideas of your book corresponded to our own feelings, and they gave us the confidence to hold our baby close to us when she wanted to cry. Every day we experience that this method works best for her, and we feel great about it.
Oud-Beijerland, The Netherlands
December 5, 2002
I am mother of a son, Mick, and we live in Holland. I read your books several times, and I want to tell you that I love your way of thinking about raising kids. It is just the way I feel I have to do it, but I often let other ideas confuse me. When I read your books I always feel that my (and your) way is the best, which is why your books gave me self confidence about raising my kid. Thank you for that.
December 15, 2002
Dear Dr. Solter,
I would like to thank you for the help your books and workshops have given to our family. Now that we have two completely cooperative and delightful teenagers, I am very grateful for the wisdom I learned from you while they were young.
I have seen your letters to the local paper about parenting children with ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder), but I don't know whether you have written any books or articles on this topic. I was wondering whether you could suggest helpful books or resources for my sister who is now the stepparent to an angry teenager.
Goleta, California, U.S.A.
REPLY FROM ALETHA SOLTER
I am pleased that my work has helped you and your family. I have not written any books specifically on the topic of hyperactivity or Attention Deficit Disorder. The article I wrote about this topic several years ago for the local paper is posted on our web site. (Click here.). It includes a short list of some recommended books. But rather than immediately asume that there is some kind of neurological problem, my recommendation for any parent (or stepparent) with an angry teenager is to use good listening skills and adopt a democratic, non-punitive approach to discipline. A good book for this is Thomas Gordon's "Parent Effectiveness Training".
December 18, 2002
I am so thankful for your numerous and sensible pieces of advice. As the mother of a now 30-month-old boy who kept on having tantrums, I happened to talk about it with a nurse who I was seeing while I was pregnant with my second child. She gave me the name of your book, Pleurs et colères des enfants et des bébés (English title: Tears and Tantrums). Although I instinctively knew that spanking or punishing wasn't the right thing to do, I couldn't handle my son's tantrums, and felt quite helpless about how to react. What a relief to read your book full of practical advice. Also, I'm so happy I got it before the birth of my second child, so she now can benefit from this approach. The only trouble is that it is not always easy to implement on an everyday basis, as I'm often home alone with the children, and obviously can't take the time to handle both at the same time, when one of them would really need my full attention at that particular moment...
Your books are now on my list of birth presents, and I recently offered one to a friend of mine who's just had a baby girl!
Click on the links below to see archived comments pages from past years.