I often talk with clients about how, a generation or more ago, one of the most popular markers of “good parenting,” and therefore “good children,” was obedience.  An obedient child=a good child=a good parent. 

Nowadays, far fewer of the parents I know place primary emphasis on obedience.  I think this is healthier, and I recently read something that further strengthened my resolve. 

In the book “The Altruistic Personality,” authors Samuel and Pearl Oliner report on their research interviewing over 700 survivors of Nazi-occupied Europe.  They interviewed both “rescuers,” (people who actively rescued victims of persecution,”) and “non-rescuers,” (those who were either passive in the fact of persecution or were actively involved in it.)  One of the many results of the research found that there were profound differences in the survivors’ upbringing.  Non-rescuers were 21 times more likely to have grown up in families where obedience was emphasized.

Sure, a little obedience would be awfully nice sometimes (clean your room, go to bed now, stay in bed now…) but when it comes to rearing ethical, caring, healthy members of our world, it’s not the way to do it.

Food for thought.