Tag Archives: conventional parenting wisdom

Spare the Rod… & other Inappropriate Conventional Wisdom Dealing with Youth

Kids are obviously stakeholders in their own lives, and like most other stakeholders they generally want and deserve to have input into decisions made about the course of their lives, if not having the final say on those decisions. There seem to be a lot of adults, who play a stewardship role in kids’ lives as parents, teachers, etc. that don’t seem to get this. Or maybe relying on inappropriate myths or conventional cultural wisdom, they think their responsibility as stewards to these kids somehow trumps kids’ own right to self-direction.

We adults mostly understand this when dealing with other adults, and our society and most of its institutions basically “get it” that adult stakeholders should have input or even the final say in key decisions in their lives, unless they are say convicted criminals or judged mentally incompetent. This is a key element of the whole evolving concept of individualism over the past five centuries of human history and thought in the transition from feudal monarchies to citizen republics and free enterprise.

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Power (Over) Corrupts

Power CorruptsThe pedophile priest scandal in the Catholic Church over the past 25 years is just one more example of the societal axiom that “power corrupts”. The phrase is actually a bit too simplistic, not all forms of power necessarily corrupt. I would say more specifically that power exercised from the top down (what some delineate as “power-over”) inevitably leads to some form of corruption if the people subjected to this form of leadership are not involved in the governance process and/or do not have comparable power of their own to check the actions of their leaders. This was a key factor motivating the American Revolution (e.g. “taxation without representation”), the French Revolution and many other similar insurrections… part of a larger trend in the world to move from authoritarian toward more egalitarian models of governance. This other idea of power flowing from empowered consent of the group is what is delineated as “power-with”. Continue reading →