Welcome to my Weblog!
Welcome to 1 Mother 2 Another! To read my most recent weblog entries, scroll down. To read entries from one category, click the links at right. To read my journey from the beginning, click here. To find out more about me, click here.
Top 5s
Short on time? Click here to go to my Top 5s Page - links to my top five recommendations in every category from Breastfeeding Sites to Urban Living Solutions.

City Proves Positive Parenting Technique

Most of you know I moved to Texas about
two years ago from New York. I’ve gradually adjusted back to
life here in the South, but can still be caught off-guard by the
friendliness here sometimes. Several months ago, we set our trash
out for our weekly pick-up and for whatever reason, our can was the
only one on the block not emptied. Not knowing how we were supposed
to get through another week without a trash can for our garbage, I
called sanitation services, anticipating a big argument with at
least a, “Well, you must have done something wrong to deserve
this!” Bare minimum, I was expecting a service charge to have
to deal with this.

Instead, I got “Oh, I’m so sorry! We’ll send a
truck around today to get that!” I hung up, dumbfounded.

All this to say that my new town handles
some things differently than my old town, and recently my new town
did something that drove home the positive reinforcement versus
negative reinforcement issue in parenting for me.

In New York, recycling is mandatory, but limited (or at least it
was when I left). New York recycles paper and aluminum, but only a
few kinds of plastic, and all recycling must be in clear or
light-blue see-through trash bags. There are actual trash cops who
walk up and down the street, and if they see something in your
trash bags – your black, non-see-through,
not-sure-how-they-looked-in-there trash bags - that can be
recycled, you’ll get a ticket. Like, a sixty-dollar ticket.
Same goes in reverse: put something in recycling that
shouldn’t be there – like Styrofoam, God forbid –
and you also get a hefty fine. God bless the Big Apple.

So this is the environment from which I come, and here in Texas
it’s completely voluntary, but many more types of plastic are
recycled. I’m always shocked when my neighbors’
recycling cans are almost empty on trash day; mine is overflowing
with the many different kinds of plastic they pick up. Yes, your
trash lid is supposed to be closed securely, but if there’s a
bottle causing it to poke up, we’ll get it, no big deal,

Then about a month ago, we got a notice in the mail: our city is
sponsoring surprise “can checks” to see if what’s
going in your recycling can is really recyclable. They’ll
pick streets at random, inspect the contents, and rate you. A red
sticker means you need to re-read the rules; a yellow one means
you’re doing somewhat well, but look a bit closer; and green
means Good Job! You’re a recycling star! And get this –
if you receive a green sticker, you’re entered into a drawing
to win $250 gift cards. The sticker’s removable, and you can
take it to your computer and check the number online to see if
you’ve won.

Seriously?? I am all over that.

The very next week I saw that we had a green sticker!! Yes!! I am a
recycling goddess, and have an impeccable record. They probably
recorded the contents of my can on film, just to show new trainees.
“Here’s an example of an outstanding recycling

Then I looked down the alley, and saw a green sticker on every can.

Yes, the city treated us like preschoolers – everyone’s
a winner! Good job! But as crazy as it sounds, it still made me
feel good! And that’s where the good versus bad reinforcement
lesson was driven home to me. In New York, everyone does just
enough to not get caught – just enough to not be fined,
whether it’s hiding papers under wet garbage, or hiding a
light bulb in a recycled milk jug. Just like with negative
reinforcement and kids: they learn how to work the system, and do
just enough to squeeze through and not incur punishments.

But here in Texas, they made me want to try even harder, and reward
me for striving to do well. And as crazy as it sounds, that’s
great parenting right there.

As a post-script, I have to admit that seeing all those green
stickers on the cans brought home to me that we’re truly not
in New York. For in New York City, someone would have followed
those trash trucks and collected every green sticker on the street
for themselves. And sold the gift cards on the corner.


Post a Comment

House Rules

Here are the rules for posting comments on 1mother2another.com. Posting a comment that violates these rules will result in the comment’s deletion, and you’ll probably be banned from commenting in the future.

1) Register first. If you would like to post a comment, you must create an account with us. Check out the home page to do so.

2) Constructive comments only. If you cannot maintain a respectful tone in your posting, even in disagreement, your comment will be deleted. We’re all trying to find our way in this thing and are struggling to be the best moms we can. If you disagree with something I say, feel free to politely email me. If you disagree with another reader’s posting, you’re welcome to kindly post in reply. Vitriolic diatribes will be deleted. This site is about encouraging and supporting, not tearing down and chastising.

3) Questions welcomed. If an entry raises a question, you’re welcome to email me directly or post it. Keep in mind that postings will result in public replies by strangers and not just me.

4) Don’t steal. All original writings contained within this website are under copyright protection. If you link to us, please credit us as your source and provide a link back to our website. If you're interested in using an excerpt in published material, please contact us.

5) Share your photos! We'd love to have photos from our registered readers to show on our home page under "Maddie's friends". Email us a jpeg of your little one's best photo to photos@1mother2another.com. Please, no photos from professional photographers which fall under copyright protection.