Synergistic Parenting

Authoritarian vs. Interactive


Here are three ways to compare authoritarian parenting to the give-and-take of synergistic parenting.

"Horse whisperers"
As a teen, I saw horses being broken so they can be ridden on ranches near my home, Laredo, and it was brutal. In contrast to the authoritarian breaking of horses are "horse whisperers." The movie of that name showed one way. Frank Bell writes: I’d witnessed John Sharp, of Prineville, Oregon, taming wild mustangs with merely a length of bamboo pole. Most importantly they remained calm, most of them, throughout the entire process, until the horse let the whisperer put his hand on the horse's back, stroke it, then a saddle. It is give and take between a patient person who knows what he is doing and is sensitive to the horse. Could it be the interacting of two souls? See more.

Science and authority
Steven Weinberg, a Nobel prize winning physicist, was interviewed about science and authority in the play "Copenhagen." It contrasts two physicists involved in creating the atomic bomb during World War II. Weinberg said one of the two, Heisenberg, was the 'great man of German physics.' "He was convinced, and Germany was convinced, that he was the ultimate authority in a country with a profound respect for authority." Weinberg says this would never happen in America, where research teams like his are not dominated by all-knowing authoritarians. Bohr was the other physicist in the interchange re-created in the play "Copenhagen." Weinberg says Bohr "gathered bright people together, whether they agreed with him or not."

Scientific research
The third is Laurence Steinberg's book Beyond the Classroom, chapter 7 for the research showing why synergistic parenting leads to better secondary school performance. Teens learn to interact freely with people in authority, to learn from them, question them — teachers, principals. Chapter 6 explains the three styles of parenting in more detail than I have.

As I urge about parenting, honest give and take among people with differences is far more productive than an authoritarian approach. The interview with Weinberg is in the Austin American-Statesman Xlent section, Oct 2, 2002, pages 23-24.

Copyright © 2006 John F. Yeaman