I've posted before about our complicated relationship with authority figures (in college, it's professors, in the work world, it's our bosses, our new "moms" and "dads"). Mainly, I wrote about authority figure issues in the context of handling criticism but I also mentioned it in terms of our assets as children of alcoholics.
How would you know if you have authority figure issues? Well, you almost certainly have them if you grew up in an alcoholic household, because you were raised by an unreliable authority figure (with his or her own authority figure issues). Your first model of an authority figure was a problematic one. People with authority figure issues often have problems with their bosses, stemming from an inability to respect the position of authority their boss has. People with authority figure issues will pick fights with people in positions of authority — a cop, a teacher, a coach, or anyone who has the power to say "no," or tell someone what to do, such as a clerk, a waiter, or a ticket taker who seizes the food you brought into the movie theater.
Know the saying "Question Authority"? I used to see it on bumper stickers a lot in the 1980s. I think it's an important concept. An ideal. I think kids should be able to question their parents' thinking, and feel free to do so. And I think employees should be empowered to question their bosses, and have open lines of communication between them. However, questioning authority and inveighing against it are different, and it's important to know where the line between the two is — and when your actions are productive and when they're counter-productive.
I witnessed my father have more public arguments than I care to remember with people in positions of authority while I was growing up. I hated being the girl whose father was creating a scene in public. And, of course, it was always the other guy who was the asshole. What I hope I've inherited is his confidence to confront others, but in a fashion that doesn't have dramatic consequences.
Anyway, it took me a while (that is, years) to realize that I had my own issues with authority figures. I don't pick fights, I grapple with my issues internally. I have a history of finding it hard to respect my bosses. I always start out liking them. But over time, that liking feeling fades–and, soon, I start to see them as "real" people, real flawed people, and then I start to feel resentful, to feel shortchanged for having such an imperfect boss. I then find it hard to want to work hard for the person. Eventually, I caught on to my issue. I saw it for the pattern it was. I realized that bosses are imperfect, all of them, and that I better learn how to work effectively with them — if I wanted their respect.
"When we make children feel powerless, forcing them to submit to our will, this often generates intense anger, and just because that anger can't be expressed at the moment doesn't mean it disappears." And, "When we make children obey by force, threats, or punishment, we make them feel helpless. They can't stand feeling helpless, so they provoke another confrontation to prove they still have some power. And when do they learn how to use that power? From us. Not only does authoritarian parenting make them mad; it also teaches them how to direct that anger against another person. Such children may grow up with a constant need to thumb their noses at authority figures."