Kids in charge

Parents get no respect from their children, writes therapist Patricia Dalton in the Washington Post. Instead of the parental look that commanded obedience, she sees the “feeble nod of parental acquiescence.”

In my office, I have seen small children call their parents names and tell them how stupid they are; I have heard adolescents use strings of expletives toward them; and I remember one 6-year-old whose parents told me he refused to obey, debated them ad nauseam and sometimes even lashed out. As if on cue, the boy kicked his father right there in the office. When I asked the father how he reacts at home, he told me that he runs to another room!

It came to me like a lightning bolt: Not only are the kids unafraid of their parents, parents are afraid of their kids!

Dalton tells parents to expect their children to do household chores, lighten up on “our frenetic investment in their academic, sporting and social achievements” and get a life.

About Joanne


  1. I sincerely hope Dr. Spock is roasting in hell.

  2. This happens because a parent cannot even look cross-eyed at a child without being accused of some form of abuse.

  3. I work with kids and teenagers in a youth group; I’ve seen some of this kind of behavior.

    It causes considerable cognitive dissonance in someone like me (who would have gotten sent to her room, grounded from tv and friends, or even thwacked on the bottom had I been defiant to my parents) to have a child respond with “NO” when I tell them it’s time to clean up, or that it’s time to put the ball away and get ready to go home.

    Usually, with continued insistence and sternness the kid relents and obeys, but it doesn’t seem right to me that I should have to tell someone for whom I am responsible to do something eight or ten times before they do it.

    (I don’t have kids, but if I did – I think I’d do a lot of room-sending-to or grounding-from-television-watching if they were that way.)

    Children do not need another set of friends who just happen to be their parents; they need PARENTS. The friend-thing can come later, when the kid grows up and respects you for having been strict and raised them right.

  4. The phrase I use when one of my boys speaks disrespectfully is, “Excuse me?” Said softly with eyes narrowed and head slightly tilted. My husband has told me that he thinks they’re a little scared of me. That’s okay with me.

  5. Years of watching the Simpsons and the Rugrats teach the kids that adults are stupid.

  6. This is why I can’t stand Gilmore Girls.

  7. timfromtexas says:

    Kids just don’t respect the adult society. They perceive quite well, that the adults are confused, and can’t decide what path to take in almost any aspect of community and society. It breeds anger and defiance.

  8. Kids respond if the parents are in charge. It’s easy to tell in the classroom which kids have parents in charge, and which kids are in charge.

    It’s not a universal, it’s a family-by-family thing.

  9. This is what happens when the ‘me’ generation has kids.

    Our kids were doing most household chores by the age of 6.