Popular parenting mantra has taught for more than a generation that if mommy and daddy want little Michael or sweet Hannah to obey it is best to explain to them why a clean room will give them a good work ethic for the future, that taking a bath is healthy, or that simply running into the street can cause pain and suffering greater than they can imagine.

The psychology is that a “willing” heart will perform their task better, even when mommy or daddy are not present.  After all a heart that understands “why” will rationalize and see the merit.

As the pendulum swings, the equal and opposite reaction is “Do it because I said so!  Now!

If we were to dissect the merits of each we’d find that both have merit.

–       In a crisis when I say “Duck”, I don’t want little Emily turning around and asking why as the ball flies toward her head.

–       When I ask my Jacob to eat his vegetables I want him to understand that it will give him balanced nutrition.

Each has its unique set of disadvantages.

–       Matthew could decide to rebel against a parenting style that does not give him value.

–       Sarah decide her parents rationalization against a 13 year old having sex does not have merit in her situation.

If we were dissect the pro’s and con’s of these two, the lists would get longer and longer.  A diligent job of weighing on the scales to see which way it tips could be an overwhelming job which leaves one stifled.

I propose this task is unnecessary because we are putting if-I-do-this, they’ll-do-that’s on the scales.  Although human nature has some predictability it is not a science, especially when taken to the level of the individual.  “Because I said” parents have raised the most well-adjusted kids I’ve seen AND “Because if you do” parents have raised the most well-adjusted kids I have seen. 

In my experience the converse has also held true.  I have seen as a product the most selfish, poorly adjusted human beings from each group of parenting styles.  The variables are the parent, the child and the circumstances.  It is a complex mix and in my opinion for any “parenting guide” to steer in one direction or the other is stereotyping.  Only with an analysis of the unique situation should a recommendation be made.  Some parents should steer clear of one method due to their own weaknesses, some the other.  Some children respond differently than others.  And situations can demand form of obedience over another.

So here we are back on that fence again.  How does one determine which way the scales are tipping?

What if we were to look at the offspring of the offspring of a specific style?  What if you took a sample of those entering the workplace their attitudes, things they find acceptable and compare to previous generations?  Is what we find in the societal workplace, politics, or at home an improvement that moves the society forward, or is it one more step toward the degeneration of mankind?

I don’t think I have the answer but there’s an awful lot of food for thought as I look around.

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