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The John Wayne vs Apron String Approach to Parenting

By Julie Butler

My husband and I have different views on parenting.

He likes to recount a scene from an old John Wayne movie, "Hondo", where a young boy doesn't know how to swim. Raised solely by his mother who was never able to teach him, the boy was afraid of the water. Hondo, in true John Wayne manner, picks up the lad and flings him out in the middle of a pond. And guess what? He swims. Had to. Or he would have drowned.

And that's been pretty much my husband's approach. His advice for parents would be to just chuck the kid out into the middle of the pond. Let him sink...or swim. He's pretty much the same way when it comes to managing child behavior. "Let reality be the teacher", he'd advise. Learn from the school of hard knocks. Let him touch the hot stove. He won't do it a second time.

Well, I'm a mom, and I'm much too protective to adopt this approach. Where my kids are concerned, I want to protect them from all of life's abrasions. I think most moms are like this. We devour articles on parenting, hoping for the right advice. Hoping that we're doing the right thing. We try to guide our kids through life as gently as we can. It tears us apart to see them hurt or injured.

My husband would argue that his method is the most humane and caring because it makes the child stronger and prepares him better for the difficulties that lie ahead. And maybe he's right. I suspect though, that in spite of his macho stance, he's secretly monitoring the situation and is ready to step in to help if he's needed.

At any rate, to resolve our different approaches, we invented a tool for child behavior management. We call it the Better Behavior Wheel. Basically, it consists of a roulette wheel type of board with consequences around the perimeter instead of numbers. When our kids misbehave they get to spin.

It's very effective.

But where it really shines, in my opinion, is in the way it combines both of our parenting styles so there's no longer any disagreement on the appropriate course of action.

With the Wheel we all sit down ahead of time and select which consequences should be put on the board for each particular misbehavior. My husband gets to have his say, as do the kids and myself. Once we've all agreed, there's no more discussion or disharmony. When the kids misbehave, out comes the Better Behavior Wheel. And as parents, we're no longer the 'bad guys', but merely interested bystanders. Child behavior management has never been easier.

When we showed the device to our friends they all wanted one too, so we reluctantly started building them. Today we've helped over 10,000 grateful parents with our invention, and the orders just keep coming in.

Not only did the Wheel give us well behaved kids, it also created peace and harmony in our home, as my husband and I no longer argue over how to deal with our kids' innapropriate behavior.

Today, our kids have grown into delightful young adults, and we like to think that the Wheel had a great deal to do with that.

About The Author

A mother of 4 kids from Eugene, Oregon, Julie Butler now lives in central British Columbia where she markets the Better Behavior Wheel to grateful parents. Her website is


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