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The following charts are from the handouts included in the Alfred
Adler Institute of Northwestern Washington's Distance Training Program,
Course DT304: Classical Adlerian Child and
Family Therapy. Most of the content in these two charts
is based on the ideas developed by Hugh Misseldine in his book, Your
Inner Child of the Past. Material has been added to reflect
the Adlerian perspective of a democratic parenting style.
Parenting Styles - Chart I
||IMAGE OR METAPHOR
|Child is seen as equal, integrated part
of family, cooperative, and doing his share. He is loved
and accepted. Child is offered reasonable progressive
challenges and permitted to develop at his own pace.
||Accepts child's uniqueness. Provides
love, respect, and feeling of equality. Encourages child
to correct mistakes and develop capacities. Guides child
to find significance in contribution.
||Feels security of love and acceptance.
Experiences own strength by conquering difficulties.
Finds satisfaction in achievement and contribution. Not
afraid to try and fail. Sees world as safe and friendly.
||Child at a receiving end of a cornucopia
with goods and services endlessly pouring out. Child is
passive, bored and discontented in the midst of this
||Showers the child with presents,
privileges, and services, with little regard for the
child's actual needs.
||Child is bored, and indifferent. He loses
initiative and spontaneity. Expects everything to come to
him. Sees adults as providers of pleasure and comfort.
||Child sitting imperiously on a throne,
placed there by parents who bow low. Child is active,
impulsive, and demanding.
||Submits to child's whims, demands,
temper, and impulsiveness. Makes child the boss, and
becomes a slave or servant. Cannot say no.
||Child insists on having his demands
fulfilled. Has tantrums, ignores the rights of others,
lacks any sense of limits.
||Child is like a trained dog or stubborn
donkey. Pushing--resistance cycle.
||Constant direction and supervision.
Endless instructions and constant reminders. Overly
strict, tends to drill.
||a) Submission: submits to direction.
Results in docile obedience.
b) Active rebellion: overt
defiance. Results in verbal refusal.
c) Passive resistance: dawdling, daydreaming,
forgetting. Results in covert, devious rebellion.
||Child is a perpetual runner, trying to go
faster, but never finishing the race. The finish line
keeps moving up. He is constantly trying to do better.
||Accepts chid only when performance is
exceptional. Very high standards, impossible to please.
||Excessive striving and preoccupation with
performance. Cannot meet standards, feels unworthy, may
give up (or develop physical symptoms such as ulcers).
|A giant child shouldering excessive
responsibility, blind to anything but work and
||Parents may heap excessve household,
childcare, or companionship responsibilites on child
because of economic circumstances, personal problems,
death or illness of a parent.
||Child may carry out burden resentfully,
missing normal childhood carefree play.
Parenting Styles - Chart II
||IMAGE OR METAPHOR
||Child outdoors on a cold night,
shivering, with his nose pressed against the window of a
house where there is warmth inside. He has been banished.
||Parents are frequently absent or busily
pre-occupied. Parent may be prominent or preoccupied with
work, poverty, wealth, alcoholism, divorce, or illness.
No one sets limits. Neglect is usually emotional.
||Child lacks ability to form close
relationships. Never has the feeling that someone cares
about him, is on his side. Absent parent may be idealized
into a superhuman saintly image.
||Human cactus plant projecting spines
everywhere, yet having a soft, dependent, hidden center.
He is painfully self-isolating.
||He is denied any
acceptance, treated as a nuisance or a burden. Parents
may have also been rejected as children. Could result
from forced marriage or deformed child.
||May look upon himself as isolated and
helpless. Feels deeply hurt. May develop bitter, hostile,
anxious feelings, and suffer from self-devaluation.
||Galley slave being mercilessly tormented
by galley master. Feels injustice, helplessness, and
burns for revenge.
||Often combined with over-coercion and
perfectionism. Physical punishment often considered
necessary for discipline or training. Parent may vent
personal hostility and aggression on child.
||He longs for retaliation. May feel guilt
and think of himself as bad. Hates punishing parent. May
lie to avoid punishment. May fear own impulses for
||The eternal patient, worrying constantly
about health. Attention focused on body functions and
||Anxious, fearful, sick-room atmosphere.
Child may be kept home a lot from school for minor
problems. Child is excused from chores and schoolwork.
||Gains sympathy and indulgence from
parents. Exaggerates symptoms for benefits. May be
excused from normal tasks.
|Child treated like a miniature
sex-object, provoking a premature preoccupation with sex.
||Parent may fondle the child when bathing,
or bring child into bed with him. One parent may be glad
to be relieved of sexual obligation when partner molests
a child. Parent may be seductive.
||Child is forced into secrecy and made to
feel guilty. Child is puzzled but frequently compliant,
and may stay dependent. Often results in confusion and
Recognizing and changing a dysfunctional parenting style to a
more democratic one, often requires the support and insight of an
experienced Adlerian psychotherapist, since the parent's basic
style of life may have to be changed as well.
For additional information about democratic parenting, read Adlerian Child Guidance Principles.
Also see Adult Consequences of Childhood
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