I don’t know about you, but we tend to keep a pretty tight rein on our brood. Both of our parental unit sets were relatively strict, to varying degrees. We were both raised in Christian households and didn’t end up as drug-addicted, pregnant felons. Well, some siblings did to varying degrees, but that’s another blog post for another day. 

My point is this: I’m rather a fan of dictatorial parenting. Just listen and do and don’t argue. My kiddos have always been well behaved in public, barring any 3-year old tantrums, of which I can count on one hand. They are pretty good about doing chores and everyone does their own laundry. 

That said, earlier this semester, in the middle of a lecture about management styles and, later, culture… I paused. Audibly and unmistakably in front of my class, I had a parenting revolution. Join me, please, in questioning my entire parenting universe and what this may mean for our next generation. 

Hofstede’s cultural dimensions illustrates the differences between cultures and what this can mean for the adoption of leadership style and cultural communication. May I present artifact #1 in the questioning my entire way of raising these minions here:
In the U.S., we’re relatively low power distance. We tend to value equality and have placed lower value on titles, hierarchy and status. We’ve adopted open door policies and value communication and transparency. Thus, our culture tends to appreciate innovation and entrepreneurial thinking of which status and caste do not matter. Sure, we have an income disparity, but that’s not in question here. Rather, ideally, leadership in our country tends to place little value in the power distance between people and more value in quality, production and service. Am I right? 

So, why do I insist on a high power distance family dynamic when this isn’t going to get it done in the real world? I want my children to follow the instruction of their leaders, show respect for the title of parental unit and submit to H(h)igher A(a)uthority. This is opposite of what our culture values. When should we, as parents, switch to what the world expects as fully functioning members of society who question, contribute and solve problems? 

This is disconcerting to me, this lack of consistency between my/our parenting and what employers need in the future. I want my children to question their professors in class, respectfully. I want them to stand up to injustice and unfair labor practices. I want them to fight for those who cannot and solve what is yet a mystery in our generation. 

Are we setting our children up for success or failure in the world in which we live? I’m, at the same time, both proud and disgusted with my parenting-self. 

Douglas McGregor and his ever-present pipe occupy the artifact #2 spot. As I felt my mouth form words to explain his X/Y theory and heard them escape through my windpipe, I was again struck by the comparison to parenting. 

Total parental fail moment: I’m a theory x mom, most days. I’m command and control in every sense of the word. I’m not mean, just firm. I don’t have to be mean because I’ve already commanded and controlled it out of them. Do I need to take a more empowering approach to management of my children? Should we, as parents, follow this theory? Some direction is necessary, but to what extent? Is it age driven? Experience? Maturity? Gender specific?

Recently, I lectured on artifact #3, Hersey and Blanchard’s Situational Leadership Model.  This theory depicts a manager adjusting his or her style based on the readiness level of their subordinates. So, you could have all four different situations within one department depending on the experience and chutzpah of your employees. 

Maybe this is the way to go. I’m finding that telling happens a lot, but I also find myself explaining why. Not justifying, just explaining why. Do I ask for their participation in making decisions? Maybe in the which chore do you want to do first area. Do I encourage the sharing of ideas? Not yet. Do I delegate tasks and responsibility? In the past, yes, to my demise and the dog’s, unfortunately. 

(Specifically, I’m delegating the responsibility of filling the dog’s water dish to you, 8-year old daughter. When the dog lept into my lap and started licking spilled water off the counter, it was then that my support for delegation of this specific task went out the window as the a fore mentioned water dish was bone dry.)

I suppose my dilemma is this: being an educated person is really getting in the way of my ability to do guilt-free parenting.