Part 2 - Parenting with PSAS

A nonprofit educational organization founded in 1975, the Puget Sound Adlerian Society offers information, referrals, workshops, lectures, courses, and other resources and support to parents, parent educators, teach­ers, counselors, so­cial workers, work­place managers, and other people who are inter­ested in mutually respect­ful, coopera­tive relation­ships—commu­nity-building—in families, classrooms, workplaces, and everywhere else.

Parent education has been an important focus for many years.  We help parents choose attitudes and actions of respect for their children and themselves—attitudes and actions that strengthen a child’s sense of belong­ing and improve fam­ily relationships.  Kids don’t come with instructions:  it is all too easy to put children, family relations, and marriages at risk when parents just need some new skills and posi­tive expectations.

What Is Adlerian Psychology?

Alfred Adler, M.D. (1870-1937), a Viennese physician and psychiatrist, was the first in his field to note the rele­vance of social relationships to mental and physical health, and to emphasize the cru­cial impor­tance of nurtur­ing our innate abil­ity to cooperate as equal human beings and to encourage one another and ourselves.  Adler came to believe that “Gemeinschaftsgefühl”—caring for the cares of others—could help transform people and the world.  Lecturing and teaching in Europe and Amer­ica, he worked hard to help parents, teachers, stu­dents, and his clients develop a more democratic mindset and a stronger sense of community.  He called his approach “Individual Psychol­ogy,” “indi­vidual” meaning “holis­tic” in the Ger­man sense of the word.   He wrote:

Individual Psychology instructs in self-understanding, the understanding of others, independence, and encouragement. . . .  Its foremost task is to establish among the broad masses of the people a firm basis for a sound, optimistic view and conduct of life, promoting the welfare of all.  Born from good common sense, it returns to the people in purified and practically applicable form what it has received from them.  It feels at one with the noblest striving and the most sublime peaceful ideals of humanity freed from hatred. . . .  We have the firm conviction that along our way a happier future for humanity can be found.

Choos­ing mutual respect, cooperation, and contribution is a choice for healthy families and healthy communities and is relevant to all cultures with democratic values.  Many of the world’s religions express this same sense of mutual respect in some form of the Golden Rule.

Improving Family Relationships

In culture after culture around the globe, authoritarian methods in overnments are fading and being replaced by more democratic governments.  In this country, the democratic evolution has reached women and is reach­ing children.  More and more families want to help children to live responsibly in a democra­tic, not authoritar­ian or permis­sive, setting—for the sake of our families and for the sake of living our lives as caring and effective citizens in the broader community.  Democratic parents are authoritative and set clear, nonnegotiable limits in matters of safety, health, and mo­ral­ity (for example, requiring your young child to hold your hand while crossing a street, or requiring your mid­dle­schooler to let you know where he/she is).  For other matters, we work out guide­lines, choices, and solu­tions, often together in family meetings.

We chose to encourage children and help them learn to solve prob­lems rather than to order, reward, and punish them as in authori­tar­ian models.  Barbara Coloroso, author of Kids Are Worth It!, calls this “giving your child the gift of inner discipline,” or helping our children learn how to think, not what to think.  Alfie Kohn, author of Uncondi­tional Parenting, calls this “working with,” rather than “doing to,” children.  Some parents have revol­ted against author­i­tarian methods and have chosen permissive­ness, which leaves children unclear about what behavior is accepta­ble (respectful) and what is not, there­by jeopardizing the children’s sense of belonging and contributing.  Adle­rian par­enting offers effec­tive, family-building choices that also engen­der peace­ful communi­ties.

Mutual Respect

We believe that the kind and firm attitudes and actions of mutual respect are teachable and learn­able.  Adler­ian par­enting courses for parents of young children address everyday challenges such as getting the kids off to school in the morning, homework, chores, fighting, bedtime, and finding time together—with­out ourselves yelling and fighting or being otherwise disrespectful.  Children and youth may still make some poor choices (we are all fallible human beings), but if we parent our chil­dren with respectful guidance while they are young, they are less likely to be at risk in their youth.

A Stan­ford University study shows that youth raised in democratic families do better in school.  Univer­sity of New Bruns­wick researchers say that how you bring up your children affects their future more than how much money you earn.  They recommend providing a warm and caring environ­ment and encourag­ing independ­ence.  The ACE Study (noted on p. 1) and a great deal of other research suggest there are immense health and mental-health bene­fits from raising children who feel cared for and respected.  

Adlerian-Based Parenting Courses

Adler’s colleague Rudolf Dreikurs, MD, and several other teachers and counselors have developed par­enting courses based on Adlerian Psychology.  Millions of parents of various cultural and ethnic back­grounds in this coun­try and else­where have taken these courses through schools, churches, family cen­ters, the military, com­mu­nity colleges, and other providers.  This calendar shows current Adlerian-based courses in shaded boxes, like this.  Many other parenting pro­grams have been influenced by Adlerian Psy­chol­ogy.

We would be happy to refer you to Adlerian instructors if your organization wishes to spon­sor parenting courses.  Be­low are some Adlerian-based books for parenting courses.  (Spanish-language courses and books are shown in red through­out the calendar.)  We usually have grant funding to co-sponsor Positive Discipline, Disciplina Positiva (in Spanish) and 正向教養 (in Mandarin Chinese) courses with other nonprofit organizations—call us!

  • Active Parenting 4th Edition, Padres Activos de Hoy, Active Parenting of Teens 3rd Edition, Paternidad Activa de Ado­les­centes, 1,2,3,4 Parents,1,2,3,4, ¡Padres!, and Padres a Bordo, a video-based program by Michael Popkin, PhD, and others,
  • Developing Capable Young People, by H. Stephen Glenn, PhD,
  • Positive Discipline for Parenting in Recovery, by Jane Nelsen, EdD,
  • Positive Discipline, Disciplina Positiva, Positive Discipline for Teenagers, and other books in the Positive Discipline series by Jane Nelsen, EdD, and others, An online version is also available–Positive Disci­pline:  Creating Respectful Relationships in Homes & Schools,, $99 for 1-year access, $69 special)
  • The STEP series: Systematic Training for Effective Parenting (school-age STEP), Guia para los padres, Parenting Teen­ag­ers (STEP/Teen), and Parenting Young Children (early childhood STEP),
PSAS Parenting class & Resources

PSAS-sponsored free 14-hour parenting courses.  Sponsored by Puget Sound Adlerian Society through private funding, this is a 6-week, 14-hour, Adlerian-based experiential course for parents who hope to create more cooperative, healthful, and joyful relationships with children.  Courses are taught in English, Spanish, and Mandarin Chinese.  Teachers, grandparents, caregivers, counselors, and others who live or work with children also find this course immensely helpful.   Click the following course registration link for PSAS Parenting courses in this quarter:  (1) in English; (2) in Spanish; (3) in Mandarin Chinese.

First Friday Forums.  Members and friends are welcome to our free First Friday Forums (usually the first Friday of the month, 7:30-9:30 p.m.), with presentations and discussions on various topics including parenting and counseling.  For dates and topics, please see First Friday Forum, or call 206-527-2566.

The Parenting Calendar.  Four times a year, PSAS uploads its grant-funded Parenting Calendar online at Parenting Event Calendar.  We update the 50-some-page, word-file calendar–which lists all the parenting courses, lectures, workshops, conferences, parent coaches and mentors, support groups, and facilitator trainings that we know of in the central Puget Sound area–once in each quarterly issue when new information become available; and thanks to technology improvements, we now transfer most of the parenting events into monthly-calendar-view mode for fast user access and easy previews.  If you teach parenting, let us know and we’ll list your courses.

Parenting Courses and Facilitator Training.  For 30 years PSAS co-sponsored the award-winning Sanity Circus lecture courses with PTAs, schools, family centers, and churches, and now we offer the experiential courses Positive Discipline and Disciplina Positiva, co-sponsoring them with other nonprofit organizations.  We co-sponsor Teaching Parenting the Positive Discipline Way with Sound Discipline and the Positive Discipline Association.

Continuing Education for Mental-Health Professionals.  Our Certificate Program for Professional Studies in the Psychology of Alfred Adler, offered for many years, is no longer being offered because of the passing of Robert Powers, one of the presenters.  Our First Friday Forums provide CE hours for mental-health professionals.

Continuing Education for Educators.  PSAS co-sponsors the course Positive Discipline in the Classroom (also with Sound Discipline and the Positive Discipline Association).

Library. The PSAS library has a good collection of books on parenting, teaching, counsel­ing, and theory.  Library books are available without charge other than mail­ing.  Videos and DVDs may be rented for a small fee.  Please call ahead to visit (206-527-2566).   See

Bookstore.  We also offer parenting books, tapes/CDs, and videos/DVDs for sale. Please see  A dis­count on quantity purchases (usually 15%) is available to schools and librar­ies and also to course instruc­tors for course books.

Membership.  Please call or email us for a copy of the PSAS brochure and other mem­ber­ship infor­mation.  See for the membership application form.  Mem­bers receive a 20% dis­count on most book, tape/CD, and video/DVD purchases for personal use.  Members are welcome at PSAS Board meet­ings, our win­ter holi­day dinner, and our annual meeting and dinner in the spring.

Referrals.  Please call PSAS, 206-527-2566, for referrals to Adlerian counselors, therapists, par­enting instruc­tors, and parent coaches.

Event Notices.  Please email us at to add you to our “Friends” email list.

Donations.  Donations are most welcome.  They can be earmarked for our Pay-It-Forward Fund for parenting courses if you wish.