Thoughts on Adult Authority. What is Authority? Where is Love?

On Shaming in Sports

On Authority : Shame on Rutgers — Shame on Us | Psychology Today

In her article, “Shame on Rutgers–Shame on Us,” which came out in Psychology Today today, Dr. Marilyn Price-Mitchel points to the evils of shaming in sports. She highlights the righteous indignation of Governor Chris Christie who asks, “What parent would let this animal back into their living room to try to recruit their son?”

He who is without fault, throw the first stone.

Yes, yelling and public humiliation are dramatic examples of adults shaming kids. But let’s name the iceberg that this is the tip of:  the effort to manipulate and control other people’s behavior. It doesn’t just happen on the sports field. It happens at home and in school, as well. It happens in a myriad of more insidious ways, too. Even praise can be one of the more subtle ways that adults can undermine confidence.

We in authority need to keep learning how to exercise authority in a way that increases the authority of others. Authority based on coercive power, is not really all that powerful—just scary and potentially destructive. Authority based on the disciplined pursuit of loving relationships guided by reason and empathy--that is the business we all are in, not just coaches, not just teachers, but all of us.

The bad guy, here, is the general understanding that it is the adult’s job to give or engineer a child success, confidence and well-being. It can’t be done, and attempts to do so have negative side effects. Watch “My Fair Lady,” again. (“Just you wait.” “Without You.”)

Thoughts on Adult Authority

We in authority need to keep learning how to exercise authority in a way that increases the authority of others. Authority based on coercive power, is not really all that powerful—just scary and potentially destructive. Authority based on the disciplined pursuit of loving relationships guided by reason and empathy–that is the business we all are in, not just coaches, not just teachers, but all of us.

Further thoughts on authority:  

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5 Responses to Thoughts on Adult Authority. What is Authority? Where is Love?

  1. Love this article, Rick! I was tempted to broaden my own article with exactly this message but was trying to keep to one topic. But indeed, this whole area of authority and control over children’s behavior must be addressed in our culture. The insidious way of making money from kids, whether it be from athletic performance or school performance must end! We need to start a movement!!!

  2. Pam Swallow says:

    Spot on. Another gold star, Rick!

    Best wishes,
    Pam

  3. Rick says:

    Thank you, both. Marilyn. There is a movement. You’re the latest recruit. Pam’s already in.

  4. Look what kids are exposed to on TV. Did you ever see Dance Moms? She’s the dance teacher from hell. I don’t care what kind of results she gets, her methods are child abuse. My daughter has studied ballet dancer for several years and I have never seen any of teachers scream, insult, degrade, or punish.

  5. Rick says:

    Thank you, Evelyn. Excellent example. Motivation through fear should have gone out with fascism, but it seems to be taking a while. How to exercise authority without being authoritarian–still a challenge for many people. Some avoid using the word authority at all. I prefer to resurrect it. It is an important word.
    PS. I like your website.

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