Parenting: Better to be feared or loved?

While reading Machiavelli’s, “The Prince” I struggled to accept the idea that for leaders, it is better to be loved than feared.

machiavelli quote I thought particularly about one organization, my family, and how I viewed my parents or should I say the King and Queen of our household. When I was younger, many of my friends would tell me how they were grounded or had specific privileges taken away for doing something wrong. I would think to myself how lucky I was that I had never been grounded.895

The only big punishment that had ever happened to me was being sent to my room. As I got older, I began to contemplate, if I was rarely punished how come I rarely acted out?

The answer is simple. Growing up having a close relationship with my parents, I never wanted to disappoint them. Because of how much I loved and respected my parents, I feared disappointing them, but I never feared them. Having a conversation with my parents and hearing how I disappointed them was much worse then getting my RAZR phone taken away from me. who-remembers-the-motorola-razr_o_2224211In “The Prince” it says that in order to be a strong and powerful prince you must instill fear in your nation; however, the piece also focuses on the fine line between fear and hate. You do not want your nation to hate the prince, just fear him. Citizens would hate their prince if he taxed them too high causing them to live in poverty. Likewise, citizens would respect their prince if he taxed them the correct amount in order to stabilize the economy, even if he was seen as fearful.

Similarly to in my family, a prince should be someone that is so respected that people fear disappointing him. This distinction between fearing someone and fearing how they feel about you can make a tremendous difference. If a leader of a nation, company, or any organization is feared by its members it may prevent people to speak their ideas or share their concerns. If people working below the leader did not share their input, the organization could fail. “The Prince” also mentions that a prince should be his absolute cruelest at the beginning of his term, so people expect the worst before he eases up. Although I think a leader should be stern, they  should also be compassionate and personable in order to gain respect from their constituents.

I believe that a family is like its own tiny nation, and it’s interesting to look at it’s governing in order to see what strategies work best. Like my family, certain organizations may work best when they instill less fear of an individual and more fear of their reaction.

One thought on “Parenting: Better to be feared or loved?

  1. While I see your point and appreciate your use of meme, I can’t help but feel like your comparison of the rulers of your family to the ruler in Machiavelli’s text doesn’t really work. The main difference comes from the fact that your parents end goal (I hope) was to raise you to be a good person and to have a happy family. Machiavelli’s ruler’s goal, however, was simply to get power and stay in power.

    Imagine if your parents had cares more about themselves and their own power within the household than your happiness or moral fiber. In that case, fear would probably be an effective tool. On the other hand, if Machiavelli’s ruler acted more like your parents he might find himself constantly giving in to their demands, saying “Aw, you guys are so cute. Fine, you can have one more piece of candy.” (piece of candy=tax break or something like that in this metaphor).

    Of course, you can make the argument that Machiavelli’s ruler is kind of a a**hole and maybe his nation would be better off if he, like your parents, cared more about being loved than feared. Well, I agree, “The Prince” is kind of an a**hole, but according to Machiavelli he’s an a**hole who’s going to be in power for a long, long time.


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