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Authoritative and Democratic Parenting Programs
(Comparison Chart)


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The Big Answer

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Why Classical Adlerian Psychology Is Important for Democracy

an article by Alfred Adler Institute

(our site's article review)

This article from the Alfred Adler Institute makes a good case for democratic character structure being a prerequisite for successful democracy. Others, such as Philip Slater (Earthwalk and A Dream Deferred), William Greider (Who Will Tell the People) and Don E. Eberly (The Content of America’s Character), have more eloquently made this very point, but this institute does it from the point of view of psychology. “Instead of cooperative democratic families, schools, and businesses, we find competitive, autocratic or anarchic circles of conflict. Our stated political ideals blatantly contradict our normal daily behavior. . . . one fundamental solution to the revitalization of democracy [is to actualize the following:] . . . The democratic ideal must start within the individual and gradually spread to the family, friendships, school, and the world of work. Only people who have developed a democratic character structure can make democratic living a reality. . . . The revitalization of democracy will . . . have to come from the bottom up—a grassroots movement of ordinary people living, loving and working democratically every day.” (Think MC.)

To create real democracy we must correct our win-lose character structures by the use of democratic parenting
To create real democracy we must correct our win-lose character structures by the use of democratic parenting

To create real democracy we must correct our win-lose, steep-gradient-nurturance-instilled autocratic character structures by the use of democratic parenting. Examples of 2 types of good Authoritative Parenting programs that are democatic: STEP (Systematic Training for Effective Parenting), Active Parenting, Winning Family Lifeskills, Positive Discipline, Redirecting Children’s Behavior, and Positive Parenting) all of which use logical consequences only of the "nonpunitive" variety.

But some parenting styles (P.E.T., Aware Parenting, Connection Parenting, Discipline Without Distress, Nonviolent Communication (N.V.C.), and Alfie Kohn's Unconditional Parenting) don’t use logical consequences since they believe that all logical consequences are punitive by definition and are experienced at least partially as punishments by children. But, if done right, they are not seen this way, say the logical consequences proponents.


Authoritative parenting methods tend to have Adlerian ideas as part of their core. Some lean more toward a Dreikurs interpretation and use logical consequences; others lean more toward a Carl Rogers slant and do not use logical consequences. But all are tools for the creation of a context in which democratic character structure will thrive. The biggest problem in America is that truly democratic character structure is more rare than it seems. Steep-gradient-nurturance-instilled autocratic character structures in America are the norm. Read A Dream Deferred or at least our review of it (A Dream Deferred) to see why democracy is so difficult in a nation obsessed with authoritarianism. It's in our corporations, our military, our organizations, our businesses, our relationships, our churches, our groups, our clubs, etc. And the source of all this authoritarianism—which ensures it will saturate all these just-mentioned entities, is, sadly, our parenting methods. This is the last place that should ever use authoritarianism, and yet, in truth, it is the first place it is used, helping to gerninate it everywhere else. Read The Guru Papers for even more perspective on why democracy is so difficult in a nation—and world—obsessed with authoritarianism.