The Funnel Theory of Parenting

A Funnel Cloud Reaches Towards Earth from the SkyI’m a firm believer in the funnel theory…training needs to start very young for the most satisfying results. My husband and I first heard of “parenting inside the funnel” from a parenting class our church offered one summer years ago.

It’s a common sense approach to child training…once you’re on the other side of child training! (Grandparents, for example?)

Raising responsible and mature children is made easier when applying the principles of the funnel theory. Most of us get the details inverted though, read on!

Picture a funnel, the kind used when transferring liquids, with a narrow end and a wide end. When our toddlers are being trained, we need to limit their freedoms–this time of parenting is referred to as being in the narrow end of the funnel. As they grow, we give more and more freedoms as they earn those freedoms by obeying. By the time they’re teenagers, they can handle the wide end of the funnel, which represents little parental guidance.

See how easy it is to invert the funnel? We give our littles so much freedom (in the form of choices) that they come to expect the world on a platter, and by the time they are teens, they’re out of control and parents start tightening the reins in a last unsuccessful attempt to regain control.

The Ezzos use a simple example to prove this point. Say you’re being a good mommy (so you think) and you offer your toddler her choice of a pink or orange sippy cup with her breakfast juice. Then, you offer her either orange juice or apple juice. When it’s time to get dressed, you let her pick between wearing pants or shorts, blue ones or green ones, sandals or tennies. You think that you’re equipping your child to be a good decision maker. Right?

Well, shortly after this free-for-all-choice-fest, you announce that lunch is ready and toddler needs to pick up her toys. And she says, “No.” Um, she is still in control of her universe! This is a direct result of allowing too many choices/freedoms when a child is not ready to handle them.

The other key to this, is that most tantrums are caused by parents removing freedoms they’ve previously allowed. If you let your infant play with the remote, or the piano, or the cell phone and then decide when they’re 18 months that they’re too destructive to play with them anymore…tantrum time.

So be careful what freedoms you allow your children. Are they responsible enough to handle having a choice?

If they’re responsible enough to handle not having a choice, then they’re ready.

Very few adults have been trained in how to be responsible, I think much of our college crisis in America is a direct result of too little parental involvement during the most formative years–up to age 12. Our children are going to face hard things in life, how they deal with these things depends on how they’ve been equipped.

Any thoughts?