Some prominent parent education theories in the United States and other Western countries base their educational viewpoint explicitly on democratic values, such as mutual respect, equality and personal freedom. These democratic parenting theories advocate sharing power with children and including them in family decision making. This study presents a textual analysis of two such theories, the Adlerian model of parent education and the Parent Effectiveness Training (PET) model, as they are embodied in two original bestselling textbooks. Through content and argumentation analysis of these influential texts, this study examines the paradoxes inherent in these two theories when they articulate how to implement fully democratic principles within the parent-child relationship. We discover that in spite of their democratic rationale, both books offer communication practices that guide the child to modify misbehaviour, enforce parental power, and manipulate the child to make decisions that follow parental judgment, and thus do not endorse the use of a truly democratic parenting style. We suggest, as an alternative to the democratic parenting style, that parents be introduced to a guardianship management style, in which they do not share authority with children, but seek opportunities for enabling children to make more autonomous decisions and participate in more family decision making.
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