Authoritarian Parenting: Unquestioned Obedience

Authoritarian parents, or parent-figures, expect children to obey without reason or explanation. They believe  all adults, regardless of their own behavior, ethics, or morals, deserve a child's perpetual obedience. 


Pinocchio and the ghost of the Talking Cricket

Authoritarian parenting requests that a child give their utmost respect and trust without consideration. In this illustration, Pinocchio meets the ghost of the Talking Cricket during his adventures. The ghost warns him to go back home, where his poor father is mourning his absence, but he doesn't bother to explain to Pinocchio why returning home is important. Instead, he tells Pinocchio: "Remember that boys who insist upon having their own way sooner or later repent it." Naturally, Pinocchio ignores the cricket and refuses to go home. 


Pinocchio mourns the Blue Fairy

Pinocchio stumbles upon the gravestone of the Blue Fairy, who has once already saved him from death, and promised to be his older sister. The gravestone reads: "Here lies the child with the blue hair who died from sorrow because she was abandoned by her little brother Pinocchio!"

The Blue Fairy plays a pivotal role in Pinocchio's life: she is the first person to treat him with respect and empathy, and she plays the role of both his sister and mother. She treats him with authority and care, rather than authoritarian behavior. Pinocchio, brought into the world by a carpenter's hands, has always been motherless. He has always felt abandoned, and his reckless behavior often corresponds with a child who has experienced repeated neglect.  


Pinocchio makes a promise

In this illustration, Pinocchio promises the Blue Fairy, who has reappeared, that he will be a good boy and return to school.

In exchange, the Blue Fairy agrees to be his mother, and Pinocchio is overjoyed, saying "I am delighted at that...I have wished so long to have a mother like other boys!"

The Fairy tells Pinocchio that good boys are obedient, again repeating the common refrain of authoritarian parenting of the 1900's: that being a "good child" is reserved exclusively for those who listen to their parents. 


Pinocchio kisses the fairy's hand

This pact between the Fairy and Pinocchio is dangerous because what Pinocchio craves most is what all children innately need in order to flourish: unconditional love from their parents or caregivers. Children need to confidently know they can take risks, or even rebel, without losing the love of their parents. If a child is to build a secure attachment to their parent, this love can never be transactional or withheld from them.

Despite all the goodness in the Fairy's heart, her love for Pinocchio is still conditional, and authoritarian. In order to be his mother, she tells him: "You must do everything I tell you to do."

Authoritarian Parenting: Unquestioned Obedience