The Powers That Blog

While we keep track of politics at a certain level, this is not a poliblog, nor a warblog. Maybe "eclectiblog" is a good description, as we note thoughts on topics from art to parenting to whatever comes to mind.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Parenting Style Important

Vad Yashem, Israel's "Department of the Righteous" commissioned a study to identify the differences between those Gentiles (non-Jews) who rescued and otherwise assisted the Jews during the Holocaust from those who simply stood by. The study was carried out by Sociologists Samuel Oliner and Pearl Oliner. In the study they extensively interviewed 406 rescuers and 126 nonrescuers, where both groups were closely matched for age, sex, education, and geographical location during the war. The principal question the Oliners set up their study to ask was: How do people who risk personal disaster in order to help others, with no promise of reward, differ from people who do not? What kind of background or upbringing lends itself to altruism?

The Oliners compiled the results and analysis of their study in their book (published in 1988): The Altruistic Personality: Rescuers of Jews in Nazi Europe. The most striking difference between the rescuers and nonrescuers was the way they were raised. Rescuers came from close, loving families where the children were deeply respected and treated gently. Discipline was based on talking and reasoning, and children were allowed to question their parents' decisions. The rescuers repeatedly used the words "reasoning" and "explaining" when describing how their parents corrected them. Rescuers were rarely, if ever, spanked. In contrast, the nonrescuers were raised by authoritarian parents who insisted primarily on obedience. Corporal punishment, though not necessarily the most extreme kinds, was the norm. In an article which cites the Oliners' work, psychologist and author Gregory Popcack writes: Parents of collaborators were significantly more likely to view their children's misbehavior as the result of innate bad-ness or manipulativeness. By contrast, the parents of rescuers tended to view misbehavior as the result of simple ignorance or clumsy high-spiritedness.

Everyone who uses his stature to promote corporal punishment and other punitive and disrespectful forms of childrearing will do well to pay attention to the Oliners' study. Many of those who promote and practice a more authoritarian style are themselves Christians and view the deeds of the Holocaust rescuers as heroic. No doubt if asked, they will say they hope their children will grow up to be rescuers, and not bystanders. They need to ask themselves if the way they are raising their children is likely to bring about those results. According to some very convincing research, the answer is no.

The way you parent your children now just might impact whether future people will live or die.

HT: Gregory Popcak, from his book Parenting With Grace

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