Is Conditional Parenting Bad For Children?

Should you love your children unconditionally or should you dole out love only when they behave? Do your children become better adults if you are selective about your approvals - like many of the new parenting advice books say?

Author Alfie Kohn wrote an interesting article for The New York Times wrote about some interesting studies on conditional parenting:

In 2004, two Israeli researchers, Avi Assor and Guy Roth, joined Edward L. Deci, a leading American expert on the psychology of motivation, in asking more than 100 college students whether the love they had received from their parents had seemed to depend on whether they had succeeded in school, practiced hard for sports, been considerate toward others or suppressed emotions like anger and fear.

It turned out that children who received conditional approval were indeed somewhat more likely to act as the parent wanted. But compliance came at a steep price. First, these children tended to resent and dislike their parents. Second, they were apt to say that the way they acted was often due more to a “strong internal pressure” than to “a real sense of choice.” Moreover, their happiness after succeeding at something was usually short-lived, and they often felt guilty or ashamed.

In a companion study, Dr. Assor and his colleagues interviewed mothers of grown children. With this generation, too, conditional parenting proved damaging. Those mothers who, as children, sensed that they were loved only when they lived up to their parents’ expectations now felt less worthy as adults. Yet despite the negative effects, these mothers were more likely to use conditional affection with their own children.


Newest 5
Newest 5 Comments

Love and acceptance are the only two things we should be practicing when raising kids. Sculpting them into some idealistic models will only hurt both sides in the long run
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
"Second, they were apt to say that the way they acted was often due more to a “strong internal pressure” than to “a real sense of choice.”"

Try applying this feel-good garbage to toilet training. You kinda hafta negatively react to your kid crapping on the coffee table...
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
I couldn't read the Neatorama post or the comments, much less the book.

Remember, if you want us to read stuff about mothers, show a picture with some cleavage.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
I'm sickened that I live in a world where Alfie Kohn gets even a mention, let alone an article, in the New York Times. This guy has missed the boat in a MAJOR way and should not be misleading people any further. Parents have a hard enough time figuring out how to be "good" parents as it is. Read "The Power of Positive Parenting" if you want a dose of the way things really work.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
Login to comment.

Email This Post to a Friend
"Is Conditional Parenting Bad For Children?"

Separate multiple emails with a comma. Limit 5.


Success! Your email has been sent!

close window

This website uses cookies.

This website uses cookies to improve user experience. By using this website you consent to all cookies in accordance with our Privacy Policy.

I agree
Learn More