Overparenting: Does being a Consultant Parent work?

This entry is part 4 of 4 in the series Overparenting

Photo by Rennett Stowe, provided for public use via Wikimedia Commons.

Yesterday morning I got an opportunity to practice Foster Cline and Jim Fay ‘s Parenting Teens with Love and Logic. The evening before, my 13-year-old asked me to get him up early so he could finish his math homework. He needed my help, he said. I said sure thing, and contemplated my options.

What role should I play?

This week, I discussed three common parenting models and their causes: Helicopter Parent, Drill Sergeant, and laissez-faire. Given the time constraint—and the importance of getting an A+ on the assignment—the Helicopter Parent would have given the answers or even done the homework. A Drill Sergeant would have kept the teen up all night if necessary to finish the homework, adding a good tongue lashing about the importance of doing homework in advance. And, the laissez-faire parent wouldn’t have bothered to get up early.

I decided to apply the Consultant model. Specifically, I decided to only ask questions. The first question I asked was, “What kind of problems are these?”

I learned that the assignment involved coming up with an equation made up of four 4s that would sum to 1, another equation with four 4s that would sum to 2, and so on up to a sum of 20. You could manipulate the 4s as you wished. Need a 1? That’s 4 divided by 4. Need a 2? That’s the square root of 4. And so on.

He had done most of the problems, except for a few. For these, the math teacher gave the students a clue: each required the use of 4! (four factorial) So I asked, “What does 4! mean?” He told me that 4! is 4 X 3 X 2 X 1 or 24. So I asked, “How can you use that?”

And so on. Question after question after question.

When he solved the last problem, he exclaimed, “I got it!”

Instead of heaping on praise (which would implicitly communicate that I was surprised that he got it), I said, “You got it.”

It won’t be long before the math he does is beyond my knowledge, but I can always ask questions. And, I know that I will revert from time to time to one of the other parenting roles. But I’ll keep trying to be a Consultant.

Does the Consultant model make sense to you?

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