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Authoritative and Democratic Parenting Programs
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The Big Answer


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Liberated Parents Liberated Children

a book by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish

(our site's book review)

One of the authoritative parenting methods is the Ginott method. Haim G. Ginott is the proponent/author of this method and Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish advocate Ginott's method also. It differs from P.E.T. in that it includes logical consequences in its parenting toolbox. Like STEP (Systematic Training for Effective Parenting), Active Parenting, Winning Family Lifeskills, Positive Discipline, Redirecting Children’s Behavior, and Positive Parenting (which we call any Dreikurs-styled authoritative parenting that is not any of the aforementioned methods or the Ginott method), it relies on wisdom from the likes of Alfred Adler, Rudolf Dreikurs, Abraham Maslow, and others, to greater or lesser degrees.

All of these methods advocate natural consequences and nonpunitive logical consequences and can be called authoritative parenting (methods which discourage all permissive and authoritarian tactics) and democratic parenting (since they believe in equality, rights, win-win and avoidance of power trips from anyone). P.E.T. is also authoritative and democratic (see Authoritative Parenting Programs), but it tries to avoid even the slightest taint of punitive strategies by rejecting logical consequences—which all these other methods find necessary (except Aware Parenting, Connection Parenting, Discipline Without Distress, Nonviolent Communication (N.V.C.), and Alfie Kohn's Unconditional Parenting, all of which reject logical consequences like P.E.T.), even though they accept logical consequences only of the nonpunitive variety.

Praise is a bad way of instilling self-esteem—it  produces not self-esteem but dependency; verbally encouraging is bad for kids if it is done with You statements but good for kids if it is done with I statements ('I'm wondering how you felt when you drew that' or 'I appreciate it when you help with dishes')
*Praise is a bad way of instilling self-esteem—it produces not self-esteem but dependency; verbally encouraging is bad for kids if it is done with You statements but good for kids if it is done with I statements ("I'm wondering how you felt when you drew that" or "I appreciate it when you help with dishes")

The authors advocate letting kids find out for themselves and solve their own problems as much as possible, restricting kids’ actions but not their feelings—which are all to be allowed. They recommend active listening, childproofing environments that kids are supposed to play in, using the constructive type of praise* that tells how you feel rather than defines the kid in any way, encouraging autonomy, and avoiding the wrong type of adjectives (“good” boy, “bad” boy).

Based upon the authoritative parenting taught by the late child psychologist Dr. Haim Ginott, the authors warn us away from permissive or authoritarian child-raising, shunning the ineffective rewards and punishments of the behaviorists, and instead backing consequences based training that helps teach self-control while it encourages self-esteem. Their method differs from P.E.T. mostly in that it allows parents to set limits and rules, and in the fact that P.E.T. is more comprehensive and complete. With both P.E.T. and the Ginott method there’s problem-solving and agreements reached democratically, but Faber and Mazlish give kids reminder notes and verbalizations that may functionally put parents in the middle of kids’ responsibilities and problems and sometimes sound like covert nagging.

Reminder notes to kids put parents in the middle of kids’ responsibilities and sometimes sound like covert nagging
Reminder notes to kids put parents in the middle of kids’ responsibilities and sometimes sound like covert nagging

For a fuller discussion on logical vs. natural consequences, see the comments on the book Happy Children by Rudolf Dreikurs, and elsewhere in this site.

To find discussions of punitive vs. nonpunitive authoritative parenting, check out both Authoritative Parenting Programs and comments on Diana Baumrind’s works. Her ideas about “firm control” define the conservative end of the authoritative parenting continuum, while Gordon’s ideas on avoiding logical consequences and relying on natural consequences to provide all consequences training define the liberal (or Carl Rogers) end of that continuum. Alfie Kohn's Unconditional Parenting is also on the liberal end of that continuum.