Unconditional Parenting: Chapter 6: What Holds Us Back?


  • Why do people parent conditionally if it is not doing what parents think it is doing, if it is producing results parents aren’t intending?
    • What we see and hear (pp. 94-97)
    • What we believe (pp. 97-105)
    • What we feel (pp. 105-107)
    • What we fear (pp. 107-116)
  • Our society is unfriendly towards children, believing them to be rude, lazy, irresponsible and lacking in values. (p.97)
  • If you don’t trust children, then you go out of your way to control them. (p.98)
  • If you believe that kids are insufficiently controlled, you are more likely to gravitate towards a role that involves more control and more “discipline.” (p.99)
  • Parenting is portrayed as a competition with children to outmaneuver, outwit, triumph and win the battle. (p.100)
  • Expectations that overestimate children’s capabilities lead parents to feel frustrated and angry and to hold children accountable through control (punishments and rewards). (p. 100)
  • Our family of origin influences whether we respect or disrespect our children, what makes us angry and frustrated, how we express our emotions. (p.105)
  • Some parental fearsmay be:
    • parental inadequacy
    • powerlessness
    • being judged
    • children’s safety
    • permissiveness
  • “Doing with” asks more of us than “doing to” all influence us to take the somewhat easier route of rewards and punishment.


  • What does a child’s misbehavior actually mean? What needs might a child be trying to meet? How might we, as parents and caregivers, use our understanding of a child’s need to respond with respect? (p.99)
  • While parents may be controlling more and more on the homefront, schools also present places of control for children. Unless homeschooled or unschooled, most children spend the majority of the day having someone direct them. If school is a large amount of time in the life of a child, not to mentioned scheduled activities, how does this change the need for the home environment to offer a degree of safe choice and freedom? 
  • What role do you think media portrayals of children and parents/adults play in how we parent (or are encouraged to parent)?
  • How does what we do with our children and how we are with them have more to do with our needs, our fears, our upbringing than what is best or what we actually want for them? (What beliefs, fears, feelings or experiences about children and life influence your parenting?)

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