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Authoritative and Democratic Parenting Programs
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The Big Answer


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Preparing For Parenthood

a book by Lee Salk

(our site's book review)

He recommends that kids are spaced three or more years apart so that sibling rivalry doesn’t get out of hand. He recommends good privacy policies about knocking and getting permission to open doors before entering rooms—a rule to be followed by parent and child alike. He advocates an attitude that no one should feel obligated to have children and that people who stay childless are not selfish or immature—it’s obvious that if one doesn’t want kids, having them to please others is stupid, and one wouldn’t expect good parenting from someone who preferred not to have kids anyway. He recommends that one parent stay home and take care of the baby for the first nine months or so of its life. (Of course, he’s assuming steep-gradient nurturance and only a mother and father available for caregiving.)

He recommends that one parent stay home and take care of the baby for the first nine months
He recommends that one parent stay home and take care of the baby for the first nine months

He unfortunately recommends spankings and punishments in some instances. He rightly puts down permissive parenting as well as harsh authoritarian parenting, but has little to say about the superior authoritative and harmonious methods that were already in existence when he wrote the book in 1974. I-statements, active listening and win-win problem solving are also conspicuously absent; he could have learned a lot from his peers in 1974 (like Thomas Gordon of P.E.T.) and improved his book a lot. He does promote exploration and adventuring, and has fairly good advice for teaching kids how to peacefully and nondestructively coexist with adults in the adult living space in a home. But setting up a child-proofed space as well seems low on Salk’s agenda, if it’s present at all. He recommends teaching kids to be responsible, but misses much by avoiding directly dealing with the rules of natural/logical consequences training.

He supports spankings and punishments in some instances, ignoring the superior authoritative methods
He supports spankings and punishments in some instances, ignoring the superior authoritative methods

He congratulates the women’s movement for the challenges they gave to the traditional family, and the changes they made to it by opting for life satisfaction by working outside the family.

He likes that women can opt for life satisfaction by working outside the family
He likes that women can opt for life satisfaction by working outside the family

“If today’s children are to grow into the responsible adults we hope they will be, it will be necessary to create the optimal conditions for their healthy emotional growth and development.” He couldn’t be more right. He includes parent education in these improved conditions: everyone should have to get this type of training. He sees the needed environmental support as coming from businesses offering flex time, parenting leaves, and/or child care, as well as government programs, which he mostly implies. He shows great insight when handling the subject of childlessness. He encourages people who don’t have the personal or economic resources to raise kids to refrain from reproducing, since the task is far too critical to be taken lightly as just something to do. He also says that if more people not into child-raising follow through on their inclinations, it should allow others who are really into it and who are good at it to have even more kids, which he approves of.

The book is wise and kind, but not recommended alone—it truly needs to be supplemented with Hart’s (The Winning Family) and Gordon’s (P.E.T. in Action) books. And ignore his spankings and punishments advice—it is lame.