Ordinary People Analysis

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The Authoritarian, the Permissive and the Authoritative
Ordinary People Parents are perhaps the greatest influences in a person life. They mentor us, shape us and model us into the type of people they would be proud of. This is no different in the movie, Ordinary People which portrays a family of three struggling through a tragedy and its byproducts. The movie highlights the three different parenting styles through the two parents, Beth and Calvin, of Conrad. Furthermore the movie underscores the impact of externals events on parenting styles relating the Person-Situation Controversy to Parenting styles. Diana Baurind conducted a study in the 1960s which identified the three mains parenting styles; Authoritarian, Permissive and Authoritative. The Authoritarian parenting style is best describes as demanding, strict and almost harsh. An authoritarian parent wants complete obedience from their child. One the other end of the spectrum, there is the permissive parenting style in which the parents are submissive to their children’s desires and use little punishment (189). In the middle of these two parenting style is the middle ground; Authoritative. An authoritative parent finds the balance between the two extreme parenting styles through control with explanation and openness to different ideas. Calvin would be described an authoritative parent consistently throughout the movie. Calvin’s father never changed his parenting style and always stays firm but open. He desires his son to get well more than anything yet he understands that his son’s actions are not necessarily what are best for him to become well again. This can be scene when Conrad is discussing the price and schedule of his therapy, a necessity that he does not want but his father insists that he does see the therapist. Mr. Jarrett is the perfect example of an authoritative parent. On the other hand, Calvin’s mother is not an authoritative parent but rather an ever evolving character,



Cited: Myers, David G. Psychology. New York: Worth, 2004. Print. Ordinary People. Dir. Robert Redford. Perf. Timothy Hutton and Judd Hirsch. Paramount Pictures, 1980. DVD.

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