|Parenting | Education | Other Important Authors
Gottman seems to be doing some of the better work on children and parents so here are few notes from a book of his and a few links. One thing I like about Gottman is he dedicated his book about the "Heart of Parenting" to Haim Ginott.
Here is an interview of John Gottman I recently found: http://www.psychotherapy.net/interview/john-gottman
Notes from The Heart of Parenting: Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child
Notes From His Chapter on Leting Your Partner Influence You From His Book
Books authored or co-authored by Gottman
Respect | Empathy
Other EQI.org Topics:
Abuse | Understanding
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|The Heart of Parenting:
Raising and Emotionally Intelligent Child, John Gottman
Here are my notes from when I read the book in 1997. Mostly they are quotes from the book, with a few of my own ideas, thoughts and comments sprinkled here and there. If you see "sph" (my initials), it is definitely my comment.
A few selected sections from the full notes below:
Five steps to becoming an "Emotion Coach
Traits of a "Dismissing" Parent
Zebra - A father gives his daughter the gift of understanding
|"Much of today's popular
advice to parents ignores the world of emotion. Instead,
it relies on child-rearing theories that address
children's misbehavior, but disregard the feelings that
underlie that misbehavior."
"The ultimate goal of raising children should not be simply to have an obedient and compliant child." p 16
** if you want to label something, label your feelings. (sph)
Love by itself isn't enough. p 16
He decicates the book to Haim Ginott.
When a child is emotional, it is a ideal time for bonding.
Poor emotional coaches:
1. Dismissing parents, who disregard, ignore, or trivialize children's negative emotions (what I would call invalidating parents- sph)
2. Disapproving parents, who are critical of their children's negative emotions.
3. Laissez-faire parents, who accept their children's emotions and empathize with them, but fail to offer guidance or set limits on their children's behavior.
[Also, lazy parents like those who use distraction like bribing, tickling (sph)]
see example on p 23 of the actual book
sph comment - I would say of the three, the first two do much more damage to the child/teen.
|Five steps to becoming an
1. Become aware of child/teen's emotion (Gottman just had "child", but to me it is insulting to a teenager to call him or her a "child", it is also inaccurate and misleading)
2. See it as opportunity for intimacy and teaching
3. Listen empathetically, validate feelings
4. Help child/teen find words to label the feeling
5. Set limits while generating options
p 25 kids whose parents are "emotion coaches" are healthier, better academically, have better friendships, fewer behavioral problems, less violent, "more emotionally healthy" (Gottman can be more trusted when he makes a claim like this than Dan Goleman)
also, more resilient, better able to soothe selves
when couple fights it decreases kid's friendships; hurts schoolwork and health
but the EC coaches kids handled divorced, separated, fighting parents better.
Father has distinct impact on school, relationships- father's influence can be "much more extreme"
"An emotionally present dad can be a tremendous benefit in a child's life, but a cold and cruel father can do great harm" p 26
:( uses disappointment as if it is okay p 27
p 28 thinks we need more economic support for families, thinks we are headed in the "opposite direction"
"Children in emotional pain don't leave their problems at the schoolhouse door." p 29
"schools are underfunded yet asked to provide more social services." 29 (he thinks we need to tax more! -- I prefer to tax less, educate more and set minimum standards for parents in terms of emotional and financial responsibility and competency.)
p 30 he say studies (uncited) show that kids who feel "respected, valued, loved" show all the positive signs of emotional intelligence, + less suicide, premature sexual activity, drug addiction (I can see that from my own observations and discussions with people around the world. Why do we need so many studies to prove the obvioius?)
p 31 we have inherited a tradition of discounting children's behavior.. because they are smaller, less powerful, less rational, less experienced. (Kids are world's largest oppressed population)
Llyod DeMause - 1974 Essay The Evolution of Childhood" talks about the horrible neglect and abuse. Says each generation parents get better. "Less of a task of conquering a child's will than guiding it [paraphrased] + "socializing it." (I disapprove of the "socialization" process- to me it is largely about conformity and obedience and denial of the self.)
Lois Murphy sociologist in 30's showed most kids are empathetic, and altruistic by nature.
"Growing belief in the intrinsic goodness of children" p32
we are letting go of "strict, authoritarian mode" and the old biblical idea that children are "born sinners" - a horribly dysfunctional belief to have institutionalized.
Diana Baumrind did some stuff on authoritative vs permissive styles. Logical results that some boundaries were needed. p 32
Gottman has a list of books at back
33 kids suffer when caretakers don't notice their emotional cues (eye contact etc) baby is not at good at regulating own emotions. (because they feel more intense need, become more desperate to be heard)
reward vs punishment
"Statements of understanding should precede statement of advice."p 34
Emotions don't disappear when you say "don't feel that way" or when logic is used, There is no reason for you to get all upset.
"Say you're sorry like you mean it" teaches them to lie and act.
Likes Faber and Mazlish
Babies who are neglected feel out of control. p 41
Kids learn it is possible to go from feelings of distress to feelings of reassurance. (pp) p 41
validate, stay with him - be there pp p.24
see his self-test of parenting style on p 43
"think about how negative emotions (and positive) were perceived in your family (be strong, settle down, ignore it, deny it, invalidate it, or supportive, understanding, good listeners, give advice, interrogate, lecture? self pity? p 49 pp
Good list of parenting styles on p 50*
(My adaptation with help from this workbook)
Effects on children:
They learn their feelings are wrong, inappropriate, not valid. They may learn their is something inherently wrong with them because of the way they feel. They may have difficulty regulating their own emotions. (IE their self-esteem suffers, they stop trusting themself, lose self-confidence.)
Gottman says simply the effects are the same on the child. (A little weak, John! Surely there are different effects. I would say the kids have even lower self-esteem and are probably more likely to be rebellious and defiant.)
Effects: kids don't learn to regulate their emotions; they have trouble concentrating, forming friendships or getting alone with other children
Effects: child learns to trust their feelings, regulate their emotions and solve problems.They have high self-esteem, learn well and get along well with others.
p 53 some people think acknowledging emotions is like watering weeds!
Kids won't talk about things if parents are uncomfortable with topic. p 54
"Adults who were raised by needy or neglectful parents may also have problems facing their kids emotions." p 54
Some parents take too much of a role - act as rescuer. p 54
Parents who can't solve kids problems start to feel failful, frustrated, [manipulated?] so they minimize or deny problem
55 parents who want kid to be happy all the time. "I just don't like to see him upset."
parents don't realize how strongly kids feel. (pebble vs boulder) p 55
Some parents believe that when kids don't react as an "adult" would, the kid must be "wrong" [but maybe the adults are wrong]
they think neg. emotions are "toxic" dwell, etc. want them to "get over it" p 55
p 57 disapproving parents focus on behavior. Example: spank them for swearing but don't ask why they were so upset they felt need to swear (pp)
"moping around" pouting, sulking, tantrums (parents feel blackmailed!) p 58
some ppl fear anger. feel powerless against it.
Don't waste your time or tears, some parents think. (I had a classmate in first grade who thought you would run out of tears, so her wish was that she wouldn't run out of them)
Some parents who weren't allowed to get sad, get impatient or jealous of kids emotions. Feel bitter towards their parents and take it out on their kids. Like not having money. pp p 60
his research shows:
self esteem suffers from low eq parents p 60 kids stop trusting their own judgment
kids are taught emotional intimacy (honesty) is a high risk business!
when parents don't know what to do or say, they do nothing.
Parents tell kid to "Smile!" - kid hated that p 62 (good example of invalidation, trying to force child to feel what you want him to)
One parent goes for a run when kid is upset! p 62 definitely not "there"
Zebra - A father gives his daughter the gift of understanding
From John Gottman's chapter on "The five steps to emotion coaching" p. 69,70
I remember the day I first discovered how emotion coaching might work with my own daughter, Moriah. She was two at the time and we were on a cross-country flight home after visiting with relatives. Bored, tired, and cranky, Moriah asked me for Zebra, her favourite stuffed animal and comfort object. Unfortunately, we had absentmindedly packed the well-worn critter in a suitcase that was checked at the baggage counter.
"Im sorry, honey, but we cant get Zebra right now. Hes in the big suitcase in another part of the plane," I explained.
"I want Zebra," she whined pitifully.
"I know, sweetheart. But Zebra isnt here. Hes in the baggage compartment underneath the plane and Daddy cant get him until we get off the plane. Im sorry."
"I want Zebra! I want Zebra!" she moaned again. Then she started to cry, twisting in her safety seat and reaching futilely toward a bag on the floor where shed seen me go for snacks.
"I know you want Zebra," I said, feeling my blood pressure rise.
"But hes not in that bag. Hes not here and I cant do anything about it. Look, why dont we read about Ernie," I said, fumbling for one of her favourite picture books.
"Not Ernie!" She wailed, angry now. "I want him Zebra. I want him now!
By now, I was getting "do something" looks from the passengers, from the airline attendants, from my wife, seated across the aisle. I looked at Moriahs face, red with anger, and imagined how frustrated she must feel. After all, wasnt I the guy who could whip up a peanut butter sandwich on demand? Make huge purple dinosaurs appear with the flip of a TV switch? Why was I withholding her favourite toy from her? Didnt I understand how much she wanted it?
I felt bad. Then it dawned on me: I couldnt get Zebra, but I could offer the next best thinga fathers comfort.
"You wish you had Zebra now," I said to her.
"Yeah," she said sadly.
"And youre angry because we cant get him for you."
"You wish you had Zebra right now," I repeated, as she stared at me, looking rather curious, almost surprised.
"Yeah," she muttered. "I want him now,"
"Youre tired now, and smelling Zebra and cuddling with him would feel real good. I wish we had Zebra here so you could hold him. Even better, I wish we could get out of these seats and find a big, soft bed full of all your animals and pillows where we could just lie down."
"Yeah," she agreed.
"We cant get Zebra because hes in another part of the airplane," I said "That makes you feel frustrated."
"Yeah," she said with a sigh.
"Im sorry," I said, watching the tension leave from her face. She rested her head against the back of her safety seat. She continued to complain softly a few more times, but she was growing calmer. Within a few minutes, she was asleep.
Although Moriah was just two years old, she clearly knew what she wantedher Zebra. Once she began to realize that getting it wasnt possible, she wasnt interested in my excuses, arguments, or my diversions. My validation, however, was another matter. Finding out that I understood how she felt seemed to make her feel better. For me, it was a memorable testament to the power of empathy.
|Selected books authored or
co-authored by Gottman
You can order these from Amazon.com by clicking on the link. When you make a purchase I get a small referal fee which is nice to receive every once in a while.
How to Raise an Emotionally Intelligent
Child (I have read this one
and recommend it. My notes are elsewhere on this page)
Let Your Partner Influence You
Gottman, John M., and Nan Silver. (1999).
Principle 4: Let Your Partner Influence You, in The
Seven Principles for Making Marriages Work (Chapter Six,
100-127). New York: Three Rivers Press (Random House, Inc.).
Here are notes from this chapter of the Gottman,SIlver book. They were copied from .....
|More than 80 percent
of the time its the wife who brings up sticky
marital issues, while the husband tries to avoid
discussing them. This isnt a symptom of a troubled
marriage its true in most happy marriages as
In Gottmans long-term study of 130 newlywed couples, now in its eighth year, he found that, even in the first few months of marriage, men who allow their wives to influence them have happier marriages and are less likely to divorce than men who resist their wives influence. Statistically speaking, when a man is not willing to share power with his partner, there is an 81 percent chance that his marriage will self-destruct.
Its just as important for wives to treat their husbands with honor and respect. Gottmans data indicate that the vast majority of wives even in unstable marriages already do that.
This doesnt mean that they dont get angry and even contemptuous of their husbands. It just means that they let their husbands influence their decision making by taking their opinions and feelings into account. But too often men do not return the favor.
ANYTHING YOU SAY, DEAR
Gottman has found that the happiest, most stable marriages in the long run were those where the husband treated his wife with respect and did not resist power sharing and decision making with her. When the couple disagreed, these husbands actively searched for common ground rather than insisting on getting their way.
He looked intently at what happened when the newlyweds discussed an area of conflict and also when they talked about the history of their romance. He found a significant gender difference in the data.
Although the wives would sometimes express anger or other negative emotions toward their husbands, they rarely responded to their husbands by increasing the negativity. Most of them either tried to tone it down or matched it. So if a husband said, Youre not listening to me! the wife would usually say something like Sorry, Im listening now (a repair that tones down the negativity) or Im finding it hard to listen to you! which matched her husbands anger but didnt go beyond it.
Sixty-five percent of the men did not take either of these approaches. Their response escalated their wives negativity.
They did this in a very specific way: by trotting out one of the four horsemen (criticism, contempt, defensiveness, or stonewalling). If the wife of one of these men said, Youre not listening to me! the husband would either ignore her (stonewall), be defensive (Yes, I am!), be critical (I dont listen because what you say never makes any sense), or be contemptuous (Why waste my time?). Using one of the four horsemen to escalate a conflict is a telltale sign that a man is resisting his wifes influence.
Rather than acknowledging his wifes feelings, this husband is using the four horsemen to drown her out, to obliterate her point of view. This is the opposite of accepting her influence. One way or another, this approach leads to instability in the marriage. Even if the husband doesnt react this way very often, theres an 81 percent chance that his marriage will be damaged.
Although it is always important for both husband and wife to try to keep the four horsemen from taking over in times of conflict, it is especially important that men be aware of the danger to their marriage when they use one of them to escalate the negativity. For some reason, when a wife uses the four horsemen in the same manner, the marriage does not become more unstable.
SIGNS OF RESISTANCE
There are still husbands who simply refuse to consider any opinions their wives air, and never take their feelings or ideas into account when making decisions. They simply and openly refuse to share power with their wives.
Some men claim that religious conviction requires them to be in control of their marriages and, by extension, their wives. But no religion justifies a man being a bully.
Gottman has studied couples who believe the man should be the head of the family as well as couples who hold egalitarian viewpoints. In both kinds of marriages, emotionally intelligent husbands have figured out the one big thing: how to convey honor and respect.
In many cases, men who resist letting their wives influence them are not even aware of this tendency.
Theres often a glaring clue that the fundamental problem is the husbands unwillingness to be influenced by his wife: When she becomes negative, he responds by escalating the conflict. In come belligerence and the third horseman, defensiveness. She becomes furious and he becomes flooded, which leads him to stonewall the fourth horseman. Their marriage has just taken a nasty tumble down the cascade toward divorce.
If he had listened to her vent her anger without being defensive or belligerent, she might have calmed down. Then together they could have come up with a solution to the problem.
Just because you accept influence from your spouse doesnt mean that you never express negative emotions toward your partner. Marriages can survive plenty of flashes of anger, complaints, even criticisms. Trying to suppress negative feelings in your spouses presence isnt good for your marriage or your blood pressure.
The problem comes when even mild dissatisfaction on the wifes part is met by a barrage from her husband that, instead of toning down or at the most matching her degree of negativity (yelling back, complaining, etc.), goes beyond it.
The wives of men who accept their influence are far less likely to be harsh with their husbands when broaching a difficult marital topic. This increases the odds their marriage will thrive.
Any man who isnt sold on the need to accept his wifes influence more should consider the many pluses. Marriages where the husband resists sharing power are four times more likely to end or drone on unhappily than marriages where the husband does not resist.
When the man shares power, the four horsemen arent so prevalent. In large part this is because his wife is far less likely to use a harsh startup when shes upset. Because shes not angered, frustrated, or humiliated by her husband, she is apt to begin difficult discussions without being critical or contemptuous.
Another reason these marriages fare so well is that they have a firm foundation for compromising. The better able you are to listen to what your spouse has to say and to consider her perspective respectfully, the more likely it is that youll be able to come up with a solution or approach to a problem that satisfies you both. If your ears are closed to your spouses needs, opinions, and values, compromise just doesnt have a chance.
WHAT HUSBANDS CAN LEARN FROM WIVES
Perhaps most importantly, when a husband accepts his wifes, influence, his open attitude also heightens the positive in his relationship by strengthening his friendship with his wife.
This occurs not just because the absence of frequent power struggles makes the marriage more pleasurable, but because such a husband is open to learning from his wife. And theres no doubt that women have plenty to teach men about friendship. Women are more oriented toward discussing and understanding feelings than are men.
EMOTIONALLY INTELLIGENT HUSBANDS
Gottmans data on newlywed couples indicate that more husbands are being transformed into emotionally intelligent men. About 35 percent of the men Gottman has studied fall into this category. Research from previous decades suggests the number used to be much lower.
Because this type of husband honors and respects his wife, he will be open to learning more about emotions from her. He will come to understand her world and those of his children and friends. He may not emote in the same way that his wife does, but he will learn how to better connect with her emotionally.
As he does so, hell make choices that show he honors her. When hes watching the football game and she needs to talk, hell turn off the TV and listen. He is choosing us over me.
Gottman believes the emotionally intelligent husband is the next step in social evolution. This doesnt mean that he is superior to other men in personality, upbringing, or moral fiber. He has simply figured out something very important about being married that the others havent yet. And that is how to honor his wife and convey his respect to her.
The new husband is likely to make his career less of a priority than his family life because his definition of success has been revised.
Unlike husbands before him, he naturally incorporates the first three principles into his daily life. He makes a detailed map of his wifes world. He keeps in touch with his admiration and fondness for her, and he communicates it by turning toward her in his daily actions.
This benefits not only his marriage but his children as well. The husband who can accept influence from his wife also tends to be an outstanding father. He is familiar with his childrens world and knows all about their friends and their fears. Because he is not afraid of emotions, he teaches his children to respect their own feelings and themselves. He turns off the football game for them, too, because he wants them to remember him as having had time for them.
This new type of husband and father leads a meaningful and rich life. Having a happy family base makes it possible for him to create and work effectively. Because he is so connected to his wife, she will come to him not only when she is troubled but when she is delighted.
The other kind of husband and father is a very sad story. H responds to the loss of male entitlement with righteous indignation, or he feels like an innocent victim. He may become more authoritarian or withdraw into a lonely shell, protecting what little he has left.
He does not give others very much honor and respect because he is engaged in a search for the honor and respect he thinks is his due.
He will not accept his wifes influence because he fears any further loss of power. And because he will not accept influence he will not have very much influence.
THE CHANGE IS HERE
Although there are men in traditional marriages who are masters at accepting influence from their wives, the reality is that sharing marital power is a relatively new concept and has come about in the wake of vast social changes over the past few decades. Wearing the pants was once the norm for a husband, but times have changed.
With more than 60 percent of married women working, the males role as the sole breadwinner is on the wane. Increasing womens jobs provide them with a source not only of income and economic power but of self-esteem as well. A significant number of the core issues we see between couples today have to do with this change in gender roles. Often wives complain that men still arent doing their fair share of domestic chores and child care. This is not just an issue for young couples. We have seen the same pattern among couples in their forties and sixties.
Its understandable that some men have problems with the shift in the husbands role. For centuries men were expected to be in charge of their families. That sense of responsibility and entitlement gets passed down from father to son in so many subtle ways that revising the husbands role can be a challenge for many men.
Gottmans research clearly indicates that the only effective approach is to embrace the change rather than to react with anger and hostility.
Gottman can separate the happy from the unstable couples based on whether the husband is willing to accept influence from his wife.
LEARNING TO YIELD
Perhaps the fundamental difference between these two kinds of husbands is that the new husband has learned that often in life he needs to yield in order to win. When you drive through any modern city, you encounter frustrating bottlenecks and unexpected barricades that block your normal and rightful passage. You can take one of two approaches to these impossible situations. One is to stop, become righteously indignant, and insist that the offending obstacle move. The other is to drive around it. The first approach will eventually earn you a heart attack. The second approach which Gottman calls yielding to win will get you home.
The classic example of a husband yielding to win concerns the ubiquitous toilet seat issue. The typical woman gets irritated when her husband leaves the toilet seat up, even though it only takes her a millisecond to put it down herself. For many women a raised toilet seat is symbolic of the males sense of entitlement. So a man can score major points with his wife just by putting the seat down. The wise husband smiles at how smart he is as he drops the lid.
Accepting influence is an attitude, but its also a skill that you can hone if you pay attention to how you relate with your spouse. In your day-to-day life, this means working on the first three principles by following the advice and exercises in Chapters 3, 4, and 5.
When you have a conflict, the key is to be willing to compromise. You do this by searching through your partners request for something you can relinquish.
No matter how negative your partner is sounding in your discussions, try to think of the negativity as her way of emphasizing how important this issue is not as an attack on you. In other words, try to respond to the message, not to your partners tone of voice.
(I think it is more helpful to ask her how she is feeling and talk about the feeling or feelings. S. Hein)