Monday, May 12, 2008

Left-brained parenting

In belated honor of Mother's Day, let's hear it for left-brained parenting.

Here at OILF, this means parenting from the head as much as from the heart.  

It means noticing--particularly where left-brainers are concerned--that lots of discontent and misbehavior come not from unmet emotional needs, but from unmet cognitive ones--a.k.a. boredom.  

It means means recognizing that the emotional processing promoted by so many parenting books--Children are from Heaven; Parenting from the Heart--often doesn't work for certain kids.

It means getting out the chess set or chemistry kit when your left-brainer seems depressed, or having him follow maps and read out directions when he's acting out in the car.

When my autistic son becomes inconsolable when I take away his floor fan after he padlocks shut my backpack, it means tracking down Gelfand's Algebra and immersing him in binary numbers while his pulse slows, his breath deepens, and his face grows calm and focused.

So eager are many of us--egged on by gurus like Gottman and Gray, and by the psychoanalytic-industrial complex--to ascribe deep emotional causes to our children's moods and behavior that we often overlook the power of simple cognitive engagement, or lack thereof.

Particularly--it must be said--if we are not parents, but education experts.


Brian said...

I wonder if writing for a left-brained audience means you get fewer comments for a given number of readers. If so, I hope you don't read anything into that... :-)

I've been stopping by for a month or so, and have enjoyed your perspective.


lefty said...

Thanks, Brian!

Interesting point. I know I have many more readers than commenters, but have no idea what the typical ratio of readers to commenters is... Or their typical right-brained, left-brained proportions.