What to know about the the ‘Love and Logic’ parenting philosophy Bill and Melinda Gates use

When it comes to parenting styles, there’s no “one-size-fits-all” method for moms and dads to follow. But for Bill and Melinda Gates, one particular philosophy has been an important guide as they navigated the parenting waters: Love and Logic.

During an in-depth talk last month, the billionaire philanthropist told students at Harvard University that he and his wife had relied on the Love and Logic model when raising all three of their children: Phoebe, Rory and Jennifer, who are now 15, 18 and 22 years old, respectively.


But what is Love and Logic, exactly?

The Love and Logic formula was developed in 1977 by Jim Fay, a former school administrator, Dr. Foster Cline, a psychiatrist, and Dr. Charles Fay, a school psychologist. The three experts created the parenting model in order to help moms and dads learn how to reel in their own emotions when disciplining their children, and instead use love and empathy to teach consequences, establish boundaries and build healthy parent-child relationships. In other words, rather than yell or scold, parents should show restraint when addressing issues with their children.

The method, used by parents and teachers for more than 40 years, promotes the belief that kids should be loved unconditionally for who they are — not their achievements.

“Many highly successful people struggled with grades as children,” Charles Fay wrote on the Love and Logic website. “What’s most important is that our children develop good character, curiosity, and problem-solving skills.”

Cline and James Fay wrote a book on the topic called “Parenting with Love and Logic,” and Gates has listed it as one of his 10 favorite reads.

bill gates photo
Getty Images | Jamie McCarthy

So, what happens when a parent remains calm, cool and collected? According to Charles Fay’s research, children are less likely to throw fits, argue or talk back. There are also fewer power struggles and more positive interactions when a parent follows Love and Logic, an internationally-recognized method that has been endorsed by other psychologists, such as the Psychology Associates of Grand Rapids.

Although one of Love and Logic’s core tenets is curtailing emotional reactions, that doesn’t mean it always works out that way. Gates admitted during the student Q&A at Harvard that he and Melinda didn’t always measure up to the parenting method’s ideals when raising their three kids.

“Can you get rid of the emotion?” he said to the audience. “You can’t totally do it.”

Of course, that’s not too surprising. Parenting is absolutely stressful, and no matter how much you try to stay calm when dealing with a difficult situation, it can sometimes feel impossible. But Love and Logic does give parents a good place to start.

As Gates told Harvard students during his talk, “No matter what you say, your kid will look at how you deal with the world.”