The Parental Presidency

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Barack Obama’s leadership style, as he’s defined it so far, is remarkably similar to the ideas behind the progressive parenting movement, Andie Coller observes for Politico:

The “change we can believe in,” it turns out, shares a lot with the revolution in thinking about child-rearing sprung from the work of Austrian psychologist Alfred Adler, which centers on principles such as mutual respect — or what the president-elect has called “the presumption of good faith” — fostering independence (“Team of Rivals,” anyone?), and encouragement (“Yes we can!”).

Coller notes that Obama’s “love and reason” parental leadership model stands in stark contrast to President Bush’s “more no-nonsense, SuperNanny-style approach to his job (‘It’s in their nature to test the boundaries and it’s up to you to make sure they don’t cross the line’).”

“The most respectful–and effective–approach to parenting consists of working WITH children rather than doing things TO them,” Alfie Kohn, author of the book Unconditional Parenting, told Coller. Parents who work with their children “talk less and listen more,” Kohn continued. “They regularly try to imagine how the world looks from the child’s point of view. They bring kids into the process of decision-making whenever possible. ‘Doing to’ parents, on the other hand, impose their will and use some combination of rewards and punishments in an attempt to elicit obedience.”

Image by acaben, licensed under Creative Commons.

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