Child Behavior: Dr. Paul Schwartz tells us about his own parenting-style dilemma

How being an Authoritative-Style parent backfired

Dr. Paul Schwartz is a popular HV Parent Magazine columnist.  He's going to also share with us his child behavior insights on our website.  Read about what he learned from using the Authoritative-style, or permissive-style, of parenting on his first born son, Jesse. 


“There can be a downside to this style as I discovered with Jesse, my first child.

I came of age in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s when sex, drugs, rock and roll were "freely" flowing.  They were the historic womb that gave birth to the ‘70's Humanistic therapeutic direction, loosely called, the Human Potential Movement.  One of the major tenets of this movement was "if it feels good, do it” and obstacles curtailing your inner-self from free expression should be eliminated.  For my generation, this translated into not so much permissive parenting, but more like parenting that saw stopping a child from their freedom of expression as potentially damaging to their growth.  Hence “NO” became time to "rap,” and discuss how the child's impulse, however problematic, can be expressed in a more adaptive direction.  In other words, “No” was not a superlative, it meant "Let's Make a Deal!”  Everything was up for negotiation.  There were no rigid boundaries, and children learned quickly that parents can be manipulated.  My first child, Jesse was bright, verbal and difficult, the perfect storm for the “perfection” of manipulation when a parent uses this style. 

As I said in my parenting column, a parent's style has to fit the child and the situation.  We had a one-size-fits-all, laid-back approach, lest our child develop a lot of "hang-ups” requiring years on a therapist's couch.

How I learned from this! When my daughters, Alison and Caraline, came along, “No!” became non-negotiable.

Click here to watch Dr. Schwartz explain the difference raising boys and girls. 



Other articles by Paul Schwartz