How to Apply Love and Logic to Your Stepfamily Life

Recently, I attended a Love and Logic workshop, entitled “Parenting with Love and Logic: Putting the Fun Back into Parenting.” I’m sure many of you can relate to the idea of wanting to make parenting and stepparenting fun. But you may be wondering- what is Love and Logic? Love and Logic is a whole-child philosophy of parenting that is comprised of practical, research-driven strategies to help adults have healthy, respectful relationships with children. The Love and Logic curriculum, developed by Jim Fay and Dr. Foster Cline, has been adapted for use in classrooms as well as at home. The basic foundation of Love and Logic is letting children suffer logical consequences for their actions, while expressing empathy when children are dealing with those consequences.

The Two Basic Rules of Love and Logic are:

Rule #1: We set limits by telling children what we are going to do.

We don’t threaten, yell, or give repeated warnings. Instead, we use enforceable statements that will vary depending on the age of the child.

For example, instead of: “Hurry up!” Try: “My car is going to leave in 5 minutes.”

Or, instead of: “Don’t speak to me in that tone of voice!” Try: “I’ll listen when your voice sounds like mine.”

Rule #2: When children cause problems, we hand the problems back in loving ways.

We allow kids to come up with solutions for the problems they cause.

For instance, if your child blows their allowance, and then they are asking for more money that week, here’s a Love and Logic response: “On no! You ran out of money? I hate it when that happens. Good thing I hand out an allowance every Friday.”

This response shows empathy, while also letting the child know that you set boundaries, and they will have to figure out how to manage their money better in the future.

Or let’s say you are getting ready to eat dinner, and the children are complaining about the food. A Love and Logic response is, “We’ll be having dinner for the next 20 minutes. Get what you need to make it to the next meal.”

Once again, this lets the children know the boundaries, and it gives them the responsibility of making good choices and eating what will sustain them until the next meal.

Contributions to the Family

Another central idea to the Love and Logic philosophy is having everyone in the family contribute to the household. This means that everyone has chores and ways that they help the family. During the workshop, Jim Fay posed some thought-provoking questions. “What if your kid lives like an honored guest? Are you a parent or are you a service/product provider?” These are powerful questions, especially for stepfamilies, as sometimes parents can turn into Disneyland parents who don’t want to make their children do anything around the house. Instead, they try to entertain their children and keep them happy. However, with Love and Logic, chores are contributions to the family and they help children feel like belong to the family.

This is just a taste of what Love and Logic has to offer. If you’re struggling with discipline and structure in your household, check out the resources that Love and Logic has available for all age ranges- from young children to teenagers. You can learn about evidence-based strategies from experts in the field and share what you learn with your partner, rather than trying to convince your partner of what you think should be done. Read a book with your spouse or attend a workshop. You’re in this together and the more that you do together, the stronger you will be as parents and stepparents. You’ll be better equipped to present a united front if you have the tools and can utilize the strategies. Then you can bring the fun back into parenting.