I often get books on psychology sent to me by publishers, and the other day I received Jeffrey Kottler’s On Being a Therapist. The book is now in its fourth edition, and this latest edition “puts the spotlight on the therapist’s role and responsibility to promote issues of diversity, social justice, human rights, and systemic changes within the community and the world at large.”
Whoa: I thought the therapist’s role was to increase the client’s well-being and treat mental illness.
It used to be that therapists just saw clients and sent them a bill. Now — perhaps because the “sending them a bill” part has gotten more difficult in these days of managed care and public skepticism about the profession — they are transforming themselves into superhuman beings who think they can save the entire world. Therapists may have been narcissistic before, but it takes a special kind of narcissism to see one’s own self as a world-saver.
Both of my kids appear to be on the "education track" and the I'm remembering the psychology professor I had last year. He knew his stuff; he was also an adjunct who happened to be the head of the special education programs for the country next to mine. With years of service under his belt, he was very unlike the academics who were getting their information out of a book.
These "parenting styles" have also applied to many teachers I've known so it's a good discussion to have with somebody on the teaching track.
The first (and worst) is "neglectful" parenting. The basic needs (food, clothing, shelter) are met, but other than that, the kid is mostly on their own.
Next is "permissive" parenting. There are few expectations of behavior and the child is rarely (if ever punished). At the end of the day, the parent caves. Children raised in "permissive" homes grow up unable to take responsibility for their own actions and immature.
The next two sound alike but in practice are not. And they are the most interesting because they can apply to so many different parts of life. From a job manager, to a teacher/college professor, to a board president, to a neighborhood association.
Of all the "parenting" styles, psychologists say "authoritative" is the ideal. An authoritative parent (or manager, or board member or elder) will clearly state boundaries and expectations, while giving those supervised the freedom to explore and learn within those boundaries. There are consequences that are known ahead of time for breaking the "rules" (if applicable) and two-way communication is not only welcome, but encouraged.
"Authoritarians" are just as good (or even better) at making rules and handing out consequences. The difference, however, is huge. Instead of discussion, the rules are stated with a "my way or the highway" attitude that discourages opinions that may affect the style of the manager/parent/board member.
The differences between "authoritative" and "authoritarian" (outside of the parenting arena) can be roughly illustrated by two difference church boards.
1) says that "X" is a good program and is recommended for personal growth. "Y" is also a good study guide and church 1) urges members and attenders to choose the group and study that best fits their needs.
2) drops everything that all small groups, studies, age groups and classes are doing for (whatever period of time) so that every single person that attends the church within that time frame will be doing "Z" program. Period.
In volunteer boards, this can mean a president who holds every bit of information close to the vest, so that other board members have a difficult time making informed decisions, vs. a president who distributes spread sheets and letters so that everybody who has to vote also has all the information available.
The "authoritative" v. "authoritarian" has a big impact on those who sit under these types of managers (or what ever authority structure a person is under). From a philosophical point of view, as a parent and educator, it bears thinking about what sort of authorit... I am.