Is Spock Authoritarian?

I was interested to read a thread about this blog on a parenting forum in which some people said they thought Dr Spock’s approach was ‘authoritarian’.

It surprised me because one of the main criticisms of his message is that it’s too indulgent. The essence of his advice is that parents should be flexible with their children and treat them as individuals.

And I must say, having followed his advice for the last month or so, I’ve been struck by how fair his approach to discipline is.

He’s taught me that discipline’s about teaching children how to behave rather than punishing them when they don’t. If we need to resort to ‘punishment’ it should still be didactic- in other words a consequence of misbehaviour rather than simply a measure designed to upset or humiliate the child.

This seems sensible to me, but I guess the thread on the forum shows that we all have different ideas about how to raise our kids (which makes sense given our kids are all different) and that shows that Spock was right to say:

‘You know more than you think you do- trust your gut’


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