RE: DSM: Subtle Coercion?

Bruce Smith (
Sat, 6 Jan 2001 14:21:56 -0700

>How is making a suggestion the same thing as "imposing"?

Here are a couple of possibilities:

1. if the suggestion is unsolicited
2. if the suggestion comes more from the desire to guide or influence, and
less from a knowledge of the other person's inclinations, a knowledge based
in an established, totally equal relationship between the two.

I suspect there's no way to say definitively, in the abstract, when making
a suggestion amounts to imposing. There's often a very fine line between
interacting, influencing, and imposing. It almost always comes down to a
judgement call. The only rule of thumb I could offer is trying as best as
one can not to insert oneself into a student's decision, not to infringe on
his/her right to choose activities freely and independently.

As Stuart alluded, it is very easy for an adult's unsolicited advice or
suggestions to become an external consideration in that student's
decision-making ("I should/shouldn't do this because of what this grownup
thinks"). External considerations may be a part of many decisions, but the
potential for harm from adults' imposing their own values on children is
considerable. The temptation to guide and protect too often leads to
adults' inhibiting the process of kids' learning how to make their own

I think we're all aware that as adults, we often bear a great deal of
influence on the young people around us. This can be a very good, or a very
constricting, thing. Thus, all of my considerations in this area are
focused on not abusing or overextending my influence.


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