Monday, May 30, 2011

Resisting More Than Coercive Parenting

I never was much of a parent and thank God every day that my daughter and only child understood and has been so forgiving and become such an extraordinary person and parent herself.

I marvel at how well my parents did, being ages 19 and 24 when I was born.  I watch as others so often struggle while some friends and my two sisters and daughter seem so naturally gifted as parents.

But I’ve never read three more helpful pages than the document I’m linking here in BYU Magazine, my university alumni quarterly, from an article by regular contributor M. Sue Bergin entitled Resisting Coercive Parenting.controlling_relationship_sp_sm

Ms. Bergin’s not writing about physical abuse but forms of manipulation and coercion that experts find can be equally harmful such as “quilting, shaming, withdrawing love, wounding with sarcasm or condescending remarks” even before they escalate to yelling and harshness.

She also notes another form of psychological coercion at the other end of the spectrum but often practiced in tandem, being “overprotective,” which can lead to “withdrawal and anxiety” and “feeling incompetent.”

I know parents with all of the best intentions who practice the full spectrum.  They are good people who want the best for their children.  Unfortunately, they also practice these techniques on other adults, co-workers, youth league coaches and school personnel.

These practices are also rampant in other parts of society.  Just get between some development interests or their advocates and elected officials and you’ll see these techniques up close and personal from both sides.

One expert cited by Bergin also notes that the result of these techniques on young people is that they have a hard time learning “inward control” because they are so focused on meeting parent demands.

Lack of inward control is also something David Brooks notes from experts in the new book The Social Animal; The Hidden Sources of Love, Character and Achievement as a pivotal reason holding generations back from true social mobility.

There is much more to this brief article and hopefully the small part I’ve touched on will motivate you to read it and then re-read it.  And if you’re not a parent or grandparent or aunt or uncle, it is every bit as useful in other roles in life.

If you like this article, in light of Father’s Day, next month, you may also benefit from one by the same author published last winter by clicking here.

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