Child, Parenting

The anti-authoritarian upbringing – not a style of upbringing, but an upbringing concept

The anti-authoritarian upbringing

When people talk about anti-authoritarian education today, many have in mind the image of children walking over tables and benches, pointlessly smashing dishes and sticking their noses at adults. However, that is too simplistic, because anti-authoritarian education is not a single educational concept, but an educational philosophy that is shaped by specific goals and models. The anti-authoritarian upbringing should not be confused with an upbringing that is characterized by neglect, because the focus is on the well-being of the child. Some of their points of view are now considered outdated, others are found in modern parenting styles such as the authoritative and the democratic.

What is anti-authoritarian parenting?

To put it simply, an anti-authoritarian upbringing should give adolescents as much freedom as possible so that they can learn to make their own decisions and develop freely. Goals are:

  • the promotion of community spirit and social skills
  • recognizing your own creativity
  • the development of self-esteem and self-confidence
  • promoting personal responsibility

In anti-authoritarian upbringing, the educator should consciously refrain from setting fixed rules.
He is instead encouraged to submit suggestions or alternatives. It is possible to set limits as long as the child’s freedom of action is not restricted too much and self-realization is not hindered. Children must take responsibility for their actions and, if necessary, also accept responsibility for the consequences. For example, while authoritarian parents determine when it is time to go to bed, children who have been brought up in an anti-authoritarian manner are allowed to decide for themselves. You then have to deal with the effects yourself, such as tiredness in kindergarten or at school.

In an anti-authoritarian upbringing, children are treated in a friendly and respectful manner. Incidentally, an advocate of anti-authoritarian education was Astrid Lindgren, the creator of Pippi Longstocking, which still makes it into the hearts of children and adults today. In a speech that Lindgren gave in 1978 on the occasion of her being awarded the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade, she called for an anti-authoritarian upbringing without violence, just as the Pippi books exemplify.


The emergence of an anti-authoritarian educational philosophy

After the documentary film “Education for Disobedience” by the journalist Gerhard Bott flickered on the screens in German living rooms in December 1969, there is said to have been great outrage and strong arguments. In his film, Bott traces the emergence of the anti-authoritarian children’s shop movement and shows the unregulated everyday life in a children’s shop, which stands in stark contrast to the processes in a traditional and authoritarian kindergarten. To understand the idea of ​​anti-authoritarian education today, it is necessary to look at the context from which it arose.

As a desired contrast to authoritarian education, anti-authoritarian forms of education developed primarily in the course of the 1968 student movement. Still aware of what obeying the authorities and unconditional submission could do to people in Hitler’s Germany and disgusted by the false morality of the economic boom of the 1950s, many young people dreamed of a life for their own children that was one of personal responsibility, healthy self-confidence and high self-esteem should be embossed. An anti-authoritarian upbringing was cultivated, especially in shared flats and in alternative children’s facilities.

Effects of an anti-authoritarian upbringing

Raising children to be anti-authoritarian doesn’t mean they don’t have to abide by any rules. Parents or educators who understand anti-authoritarianism as an upbringing without setting limits must reckon with breeding little egoists. They may not be able to adjust to other people and control their emotions. Girls and boys who, on the other hand, can develop freely under guidance should be more successful and self-sufficient later in life. In contrast to people who have been brought up in an authoritarian manner, those who have been brought up in an anti-authoritarian manner are generally more open-minded and able to work in a team as adults. In 1982 Gerhard Bott visited several children from his 1969 film again. In “They must have something about them: anti-authoritarian upbringing and its consequences” he showed what has become of them. Unfortunately, it is not known how they have developed to this day.


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