By Louisa Thompson, Guest Contributor

The Democratic/Adlerian parenting style, the secret sauce for world peace. Why? It teaches parents and kids how to listen to each other and share from their hearts.

Humans are so good at talking, we waste words and don’t listen. Every good politician, lawmaker, or official who has to talk to others on an opposing side of a problem will know that  listening to each other makes a big difference. I don’t mean just listening, I mean showing the other side that they are heard. A good politician, lawmaker, or official will show they are interested in the others side’s opinions and beliefs. When the other side is finished talking they will not say “but…..”. No, they will say something like “I hear that having… is important for you. What if we tried…. Does that work?” Both sides have felt heard and can move though the problem together.

This is what Democratic parenting should teach children, how to listen. Listening is a path to world peace. For my research project in school, I decided to research different types of parenting styles and find out what type is most effective. In my first blog post, I found that the Democratic/Adlerian parenting style teaches families to listen, communicate, and respect each other. This parenting style also teaches parents to give responsibilities and encouragement to their children. When children have these skills they feel connection and belonging, the most important need that humans have besides basic necessities such as water and shelter. After gaining this information from research, I conducted a survey and interviewed an expert to learn more.

For the survey I conducted, I asked questions of my peers related to how they would rate their own family’s listening and communication skills. My survey results showed that most teens would say that they can “talk”well with their family, but their listening skills are lacking. I also wanted to know how often families eat together a week because,  when you are part of a family dinner, you are most often talking to each other. I learned that more than half of the people I surveyed eat dinner together at least 4+ plus times a week.

For the expert interview, I interviewed Marjie Longshore, an Adlerian parent educator and my mom. I asked her questions about what she thought are the most important skills parents learn in her classes. She told me the most important parenting skills are centered on how to run family meetings, where families can talk to each other and resolve problems in a positive way. The other tool she told me that is really important is encouragement. Parents can tell their children the good things they are doing, even when they are facing a hard situation. We also talked about Alfred Adler, the doctor and psychiatrist behind this philosophy.

Having learned these core family and parenting skills – listening, family meetings and encouragement – I plan to continue my research and create teen-led workshops for teens and parents next year. My workshops will address the need for active listening and for creating improved bonds between teens and parents. I will also work with the non-profit Family Leadership Center to expand their programs and create a one-day family course. I also plan to write more posts for this blog. In the comments below, please let me know if there are any parenting topics or questions you have that you would like to gain a teen’s perspective on. Thanks!

Louisa Thompson is 15 years-old and a passionate advocate of Democratic Parent Education. She is the daughter of Marjie Longshore, founder of the Family Leadership Center. Louisa periodically writes for the FLC blog bringing a teen’s perspective on the topic of what makes for effective parenting. In her own words, “I care about my future. I care about the future of our society, and I believe that parent education is the key for creating a caring and connected world.” If you have a question for Louisa, please comment below.