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The most widely published spokesman for the authoritarian view of parenting is James Dobson. Here is a summary of his view:

“The world is a dangerous place, and it always will be, because there is evil out there in the world. The world is also difficult because it is competitive. There will always be winners and losers. There is an absolute right and an absolute wrong. Children are born bad, in the sense that they just want to do what feels good…. What is needed…is a strict father.… What is required of the child is obedience, because the strict father is a moral authority who knows right from wrong.… the only way to teach kids obedience…is through punishment, painful punishment….”

Dobson goes on to extend this view to competitive capitalism in which those who help the disabled, the poor, the needy are undermining the economic order.

This summary is by George Lakoff in his intriguing book Don’t Think of an Elephant! Pages 7–8.

Here are Dobson’s views that should be questioned:

  • there is so much evil in the world,
  • the world is difficult because it is competitive,
  • there are always winners and losers,
  • there is an absolute right and wrong,
  • children are born bad so they need a strict father,
  • what is required of the child is obedience, and
  • the only way to teach kids obedience is through painful punishment.

These are all views of life and the world, or religious views, or philosophical views, that have alternatives. Here are alternatives that are based on scientific facts:

  • in a competitive world the winners often are those who use teamwork and cooperation,
  • instead of only winners and losers in effective negotiation everyone wins and is better off,
  • instead of a strict father and obedience child I advocate both parents be parents who use Synergistic Parenting to increase the responsible decision making and action of each child as an individual,
  • punishment does not work while discipline — it’s opposite — has many forms that are constructive and cooperative and develop the child’s own inner discipline.

As for Dobson’s views of an absolute right and wrong and that children are born bad, which are fundamentalist views, please ponder my view on this web site.









Managers and supervisors who lead their staff to be effective workers and to find satisfaction in their work generally show certain qualities. They may show some of these or most of them. In briefest outline here are some of those qualities:

  • Workers are taught and helped to learn skills to take initiative and to interact with fellow workers easily, with give and take of suggestions and ideas, to help the work team or the supervisor to get the work done and make decisions.
  • Such work groups have often existed for some time, with workers leaving and being replaced, but enough people have been there long enough that habits of working together effectively continue and newcomers learn them.
  • Workers in such groups are relaxed in their work situation and have a high degree of mutual trust.
  • Workers tend to link to each other so as to keep the workers and the goals of the work in harmony.
  • Supervisors and workers tend to give positive re-enforcement for jobs well done, so people tend to look for the positive in each other and strengthen that.

Short stop parenting will apply some of these qualities to parenting skills. If you have been under supervisors who reflect these patterns, and been a member of work groups that use these approaches, then you will have an easier time applying these approaches to your parenting. You will have experienced these. If you have never experienced such a work setting, you will need to work harder to develop the qualities summarized above of mutual trust, mutual dependence, relaxing, and interacting with each your children and they with you, and parents with each other.

If you are the owner of the enterprise, then reflect on how you manager or supervise the people working for you, and the qualities in your managing that encourage better quality work and higher levels of satisfaction.














Examples: if you think your teen is overly concerned with the brands and costs of clothes and styles, invite her so she joins you for a half day at a clothing closet for needy people, or help you deliver meals on wheels. Follow this with conversation over coffee about what your teen feels from that experience. Encourage free ranging thinking and let your teen do most of the talking. Let this suggestion lead your thinking of other ways to spend time with your teen to stretch thinking and feeling.















Some people claim they use the Bible to guide their parenting, but often refer to these few selected passages:

  • Proverbs 13.1: A wise child loves discipline….
  • Proverbs 13.24: Those who spare the rod hate their children, but those who love them are diligent to discipline them
  • Proverbs 23.13–14: Do not withhold discipline from your children; if you beat them with a rod, they will not die. If you beat them with the rod, you will save their lives from Sheol.
  • Exodus 21.15 and Deuteronomy 21.18-21: a child striking a parent or being rebellious required a harsh death sentence.

Four reactions that I hope you will ponder if you ever consider following those texts:

  • First, these statements are not true and do not work. We do not follow many other parts of the Bible (the earth is flat and has four corners), also here. Repeated scientific research shows that positive discipline generally works and negative discipline — a rod — usually does not permanently change behavior. In my work I knew of children who because of the rod were permanently injured or killed. The parents said they didn't hit that hard.
  • Second, Jesus blessed children and made it clear we are to respect and love them because of their own worth in Mark 9:36–37 and 10:13–16 and elsewhere. In Matthew 18.10 he said they have a very special relation to God.
  • Third, these statements reflect the beliefs of a Semitic culture thousands of years ago, but other cultures thousands of years ago have many examples that there are far healthier ways to discipline children.
  • Fourth, Jesus said, "If any of you put a stumbling block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea." (Mark 9:42 and similar thoughts in many other places.) I believe that if our attempts at discipline hurt the child or fail to lead the child to learn to be responsible and to be a mature, self motivated person, we have put a stumbling block before children.

New Testament statements that some use are Colossians 3:18–21 or Ephesians 6:1–4 both of which assume the "natural order" is a four level dominance family with father alone on top, mother below, boys below them, and girls at the bottom. This is the patriarchal family, which careful thinking shows to be un American and not productive. Contrast these to Jesus' words above and his actions in relation to women and children.

The reality is girl's sports show as much skill, teamwork, speed as boy's sports. Women in World War II operated most equipment building war material. The women at an Electric Boat Co. shipyard did all the work building the submarine Flasher that was a leader in our war in the Pacific. Those submarines were the most complex machine of World War II: welded hull, with miles of electric and hydraulic lines and extreme tolerances so they could dive deeply. Today women excel in most professions and trades besides often being the primary parent — though both parents must be deeply involved in parenting.

Finally, note in my page on discipline the contrast of discipline and punishment.