Monday, August 18, 2014

Land of the Midnight Sun

I can't imagine trying to schedule a baby when night is day and then day is night. But it seems that Norwegian parents are adept at socializing their children despite the color of the sky. Families participate in all knids of activities together and kids are well behaved, appear independant and self sufficient from an early age. They also listen to their parents. Maybe it's because they are included in the family unit as part of it, not belonging to it in some second class capacity by virtue of their age.

It looks like again, as if kids live up to expectations. And Norwegian parents treat their children very much like they'd treat their friends, with respect and and active listening. Parents seem to genuinely enjoy spending time with their children. The same kind of time that we seem to dread. Restaurant meals come to mind. Orderly, the family is engaged from smallest to eldest at the table. Instead of the negative reinforcement prevalent here, " No, don't do that. No, I said no. If you do that one more time. Sit down. Use your fork. Use your napkin. " Rather, unacceptable behaviors ( if even noticed ) are pretty much ignored.

It's a lot like the sled dog training I witnessed at a prominent kennel near the Russian border. The young female trainer wasn't pretending to be anything but the Alpha to a pack of fifty dogs. All the time, every time. She had complete control because she was consistent and set limits and had the patience to realize that her job continues as long as there is a pack.

First and foremost, she established trust. From hours old the puppies are handled, many times a day to introduce them and their mother to her rules for new pack members. Fair rules that take into account age appropriate behaviors. When the dogs trust unconditionally; they begin to listen. And they do what they are told. They are not castigated or rewarded but simply reminded at all times that she is the Alpha, the leader of the pack. Limits and order are essential for a smooth running team. Leadership is the key. There must be a commander who is observant, compassionate, unfailingly, patiently consistant and well intentioned for the good of the entire pack.

If we can somehow work on seeing this family of ours as a pack ( not hard most of the time ) that must have an Alpha ( parents ) who sets the limits, well then, every member of that family knows what is expected for this unit to thrive. I just love those dogs.