Childrearing

Parents Make A Big Mistake When They Let Their Kids Call The Shots

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yelling kid

I love my kids more than anything but let me be clear- my husband and I are unquestionably in charge. We listen to our kids and their opinions. They know that we value their point-of-view and will hear them out as long as they are being reasonable. We have open discussions with them where they are able to express their feelings but in the end, my husband and I have the final say with most things and our kids know it. I have noticed over the years that this is truly not the case with all parents. I overhear things that amaze me- parents deferring to their children for things that children should not be deciding. It is not like that in my household and it never will be. If I let my kids call the shots, all hell would break loose. My husband and I are in charge. And we will be as long as they live with us.

I am really confused by the kind of parenting that puts the kid in the driver’s seat but it seems to be a growing trend of parents not wanting to be the bad guy. I have talked to other moms before that say things like “well, we wanted to leave the house earlier so we wouldn’t be late but Snowflake wouldn’t go until Ninja Turtles was over! Tee hee hee!” Uhhh….what? You mean, your first grader just made a decision to the detriment of the whole family and you just….let him? As though you had no say? That is a minor example. I have heard of parents overhauling entire vacations because the destination did not please their offspring. I’m sorry, but once your kids grow up and work for a living, they will have the privilege of choosing the locale for all of their vacations. I simply cannot understand this kind of parenting where every day is a carnival and their kids demand (and get) their way most of the time. I did not sign on to this parenting thing so I could be their best friend and make all of their dreams come true. I am trying to raise responsible citizens who know right from wrong. If we happen to be friends, great. If not, I won’t lose sleep over it.

This is not to say that I think good parenting is all about power plays. I don’t lord over my children and boss them around. I just try my very best to maintain order and not raise spoiled children and I find that the best way to do that is to make sure they know who’s the boss. To be honest, times where my husband and I have been a little lax either out of pure laziness or because the situation at hand is not of much consequence I can see the anxiety in their eyes- kids really do seem to like order and predictability along with expectations and reasonable discipline. They need it to feel secure. I know I felt that way growing up- there was something reassuring about my parents and their confidence that their way was the way we would be going. It lifted a stress from me to know that they would set limits and make sure I was doing everything the right way. I see it now in my own kids, no question.

Look, everyone has to do what works for their family but I can see what kind of kids come out of families where the parents give 17 options for dinner every night and let the kids decide. Where the parents never tell their child to cut the shit when they act like a jerk at baseball practice. Where the parents blame the teacher when their child misbehaves instead of letting the kid know they need to shape up. These kids grow up with little sense of right and wrong and a huge sense of entitlement and Speshul Snoflache Syndrome. We do our kids no favors by letting them make every decision and call every shot. They want us to be the parents and I think that is the way to go.

(Image: Belinda Pretorious)

155 Comments

  1. rockmonster

    October 11, 2014 at 12:05 pm

    Haven’t these people heard of a DVR? or reruns?

  2. FishQueen

    October 11, 2014 at 12:21 pm

    As long as “you are not my equal” or “because I said so” doesn’t become the go-to. (Not that I think it is for the author, but these sorts of things often draw the commenters who remember when we “respected our parents” and “rules were rules”.) That was my parents’ favorite way to shut us down, but what it boiled down to was a refusal to engage. When we got older, we wanted to know the reason behind their decisions and maybe to try to talk it out, but their decisions were never Up For Debate. I get that one doesn’t want to spend forever arguing with a whiny child, but when leaned on so heavily, the phrase made us feel that A. we weren’t smart enough to understand the reasoning, B. our thoughts weren’t worth respecting, and as we entered the teen years, C. our parents were hypocritical jerks. C made discipline even harder.

  3. C.J.

    October 11, 2014 at 12:52 pm

    Yes! My husband and I make our expectations very clear. We don’t pick our battles because it shouldn’t be a battle. They know there are consequences to their actions. We respect them and they respect us. If they want something changed they can come talk to us and we will listen. For example, my 12 year old came and asked if her bedtime could be extended 15 minutes last week. She didn’t fight us at bedtime and wine about how unfair her bedtime is. She asked before bedtime if it was ok. This approach works very well for us too. We never had problems with temper tantrums because they know no means no and if you ask again it will always be no. I found this approach led to a very calm household. We don’t yell at them and they don’t yell at us. We have open lines of communication both ways. Not to say the kids never act up, I do have a hormonal 12 year old! I have friends that give in to the kids and pick their battles. They seem to have a lot more stress in their parenting. Letting the kids be the boss seems to cause more chaos and drama and be the opposite of what the parents are trying to achieve. I could be wrong since I don’t live with any of these people.

  4. Cee

    October 11, 2014 at 12:59 pm

    When I worked in the K-12 educational environment, I could easily tell who were the kids that called the shots at home. They really did not care what any adult had to say, if they did not want to learn or do classroom they would flat out tell teachers and principals “no.” I even saw a mom quit her job to homeschool her kid because he “just doesn’t like to be told what to do.” Well…whose fault is that?!
    I think having your kid in charge doesn’t prepare them for life. If they still have this mentality as a teenager or grown up, how will they take rejection, jobs, or someone telling them they don’t want to date them?

    • whiteroses

      October 11, 2014 at 1:20 pm

      I’ll tell you what happens- they become Eustace Clarence Scrubb, or serial killers.

    • Cee

      October 11, 2014 at 1:29 pm

      I actually had a student that looks a lot like him and is very much a kid that calls the shots at home and an asshole. My girlfriend took over my job and told me a few weeks ago that he told her that he “knew people that could ‘take care’ of you” when she told him to focus on his class work.

    • whiteroses

      October 11, 2014 at 1:32 pm

      And that, ladies and gents, is why it’s never a good idea to let your kids walk all over you!

    • Amber Leigh Wood

      October 11, 2014 at 6:05 pm

      I’ve had similar kids to that, it’s really creepy, I was once told by a four year old, “i put you on my list” for taking him to time out for throwing a chair

    • Cee

      October 11, 2014 at 8:07 pm

      Yikes!

    • TigersInLove

      October 11, 2014 at 1:49 pm

      I have seen parents un-enroll their children from the school where I teach and send them elsewhere because they didn’t want Speshull Snoflayke to have to face any consequences for, say, cheating on a test. It blows my mind.

    • Cee

      October 11, 2014 at 1:54 pm

      I have applied to schools where Speshull Snoflaykes go and the teachers and administrators always have a “Please help us!” desperate look on their face. They never seem to pay enough to convince me to take the job, which is weird because I thought private schools would pay the big bucks to put up with your kid.

      True story, I actually once applied to a school with “unicorn” as part of its name.

    • TigersInLove

      October 11, 2014 at 2:09 pm

      I am so grateful to work in a school where my principal backs up teachers when we enforce school policies. When parents threaten to un-enroll over something ridiculous like a teacher enforcing consequences for a clear violation of rules she smiles and says, “We’ll be so sorry to see Snoflayke leave. I’ll go get the paperwork.”

    • noelle 02

      October 11, 2014 at 2:04 pm

      When I was teaching, my administrator did not permit me to give a kid a zero for plagiarism on a research paper after being warned on the rough draft because they didn’t want to lose the family’s tuition. One of many reasons I am a certified educator homeschooling my kids.

    • WarriorMermaids

      October 12, 2014 at 1:09 am

      Apparently it’s pretty common now for parents to call and complain when their kid gets a bad grade, or gets in trouble. People always blame the teachers for today’s bad education system, but really, I put most of the blame on the parents. Teachers today often can’t even give bad grades in large part because of the parents.

    • chill

      October 12, 2014 at 9:09 am

      Ugh, I agree. I feel like the people who complain the loudest about the teachers are the ones who have not done a good job being a parent. Yes, there are bad teachers, but if you do your job as a parent, your child can get through those 9 months. (But if the teacher truly is hurting all of the kids in the class, then that should be dealt with, but that usually not the case.)

    • WarriorMermaids

      October 12, 2014 at 2:28 pm

      I think those parents are the types who expect teachers to do all of their parenting for them. So teachers are given the responsibility but not the power. Teachers are supposed to find ways to make kids do their homework, but get bitched out for handing out bad grades and detentions. Teachers have to figure out how to make kids behave in class, and ensure they go to bed on time so they don’t fall asleep in class.

    • Allyson_et_al

      October 13, 2014 at 3:46 pm

      Ugh, I can’t imagine doing that. When my daughter is doing badly in a class, I email the teacher and ask what I can be doing at home to help her pull her grades up and do better going forward. I assume it’s my job to help my kid meet her teacher’s expectations, not the teacher’s job to lower them for my kid.

      The only time I ever asked a teacher to adjust a grade was when my son’s science teacher marked a correct test answer as incorrect. My son has a learning disability that makes writing legibly almost impossible for him (he now types almost all of his classwork and homework), but I understand his writing pretty well. Since he was so upset at being misunderstood, I (politely) was able to show the teacher what he had written, and she agreed and changed the grade.

      I wouldn’t have pressed it, though, if the teacher hadn’t been willing to revisit it. (One test answer isn’t the end of the world; it was more about him being frustrated because of his learning problem.) He now has a plan in place with the school that accommodates his motor disgraphia without letting him off the

      hook for doing his work.

    • ChickenKira

      October 12, 2014 at 5:00 am

      When I worked in a primary school there were these two brothers who clearly had no boundaries. They were both in my remedial reading program and it was so frustrating to work with them because the only reason they were there was because no one at home was saying to them “Yes, you have to do your homework”, “Yes, you should be reading your readers”, “Yes, you need to got to bed now so you can concentrate in class tomorrow”.
      They would come into my room, in the school library with “Reading Room” written on the door, sit down in my room of floor to ceiling shelves of readers, for reading recovery and say “You can’t make me read because I don’t feel like it. I’m just going to play my DS, you can watch”. Hell freaking no.

      They had a lot of teachers and support staff put a lot of time into them, but sadly I would be surprised if they ever amount to anything, they are more than capable of achieving tertiary education and getting good careers, but the way they were heading at the time I knew them, they had prison in their future. They were already stealing things.

  5. Powkat

    October 11, 2014 at 1:14 pm

    I had a button on the bulletin board that said, ‘Because I’m the Mommy” When all else failed I pointed to it.

  6. whiteroses

    October 11, 2014 at 1:31 pm

    It’s a lot easier in the short term to let your kids have and do whatever they want. There’s no whining or pointing or pouting. But it won’t be so easy in five years when your teenager does whatever they damn well please because they haven’t been taught to respect authority.

    Parenting isn’t a zero sum game. If you let your kids have their way in everything, you’re not only setting them up with unrealistic expectations but also telling them that they’re not important enough for you to set those limits. The world is a scary place for a kid, full of adults they don’t know and new situations they can’t navigate on their own- and if they’re allowed to do whatever they want, why should they believe that everyone else isn’t? How are they supposed to trust you can protect them?

  7. TigersInLove

    October 11, 2014 at 1:36 pm

    Thank you for mentioning parents blaming the teacher when their kid screws up! Once during a parent-teacher conference, I had a mom turn to her (obnoxious, rude) son and tell him in reference to me, his teacher, “You don’t have to show respect to her unless she shows respect to you.” I have seen the parents of my students instilling this entitled attitude in their kids more and more over the years. They think they’re raising confident kids, but they’re really just raising future douchecanoes who will likely never hold down a job or maintain a functional, caring relationship because they have zero concept that life is not all about what they want all of the time.

    • whiteroses

      October 11, 2014 at 1:38 pm

      Because the concept of earning respect is completely beyond them, I suppose…

    • Lindsey

      October 11, 2014 at 1:45 pm

      However, just because you are a teacher, if you do not act in a respectful manner, then you haven’t earned it, either.

    • whiteroses

      October 11, 2014 at 1:48 pm

      There’s a big difference though. As a teacher I was in a position of authority. They don’t have to respect me personally, they do have to respect my authority. And if they disrupt the everyday running of my classroom because they feel they don’t have to give a shit, I am entitled to pull the “I’m the teacher and you’re not” card.

    • Lindsey

      October 11, 2014 at 2:37 pm

      I’m not saying that it gives the student to act disrespectfully, but that the teacher must be respectful as well. Because people in authority or people who are older of me must still earn my respect. And that is earned by teachers acting respectfully towards the student, regardless of their attitude.

    • whiteroses

      October 11, 2014 at 2:43 pm

      I don’t have to earn your respect if I’m in a position of authority over you- if a boss doesn’t have to earn it, neither does a teacher. I personally will be respectful of my students until they give me a reason not to be, but I don’t have to earn it.

    • Lindsey

      October 11, 2014 at 3:04 pm

      That is simply not true.

    • whiteroses

      October 11, 2014 at 7:25 pm

      I’m not sure how it isn’t. There are people who don’t treat me respectfully that I still have to respect. That’s just life.

    • allison

      October 11, 2014 at 9:53 pm

      If you set up your kids with the artificial construct that they need to grit their teeth and smile to everyone in a position of power, they will be doormats. Raising a self confident child that can be assertive when necessary is an important life skill.

    • chill

      October 12, 2014 at 9:42 am

      A TRULY self confident person doesn’t feel the need to stand up to everyone. You don’t seem to understand the meaning of respect.

    • allison

      October 12, 2014 at 10:58 am

      Respect is defined as having a sense of admiration and deference to another person. Respect is not defined as basic manners which I agree we all need (students and teachers).

      After working with children, some with have dismissive and uncaring parents, teachers, social workers, I can’t get behind the idea of giving carte Blanche to someone solely because they are in a position of authority.

    • Darcy Hudjik

      October 12, 2014 at 4:33 pm

      There are people who are oppositional to any authority under any circumstance. Then there are those, whom I would call confident people, who only stand up to others when their rights or the rights of someone else are being stomped on.

    • Courtney Lynn

      October 12, 2014 at 10:07 am

      Nobody is saying to “grit their teeth and smile”. What IS being said is that teachers deserve to be treated with respect. Not have things thrown at them, not be cursed at because the student feels that the teacher sucks and not refuse to follow instructions. There is a right and a wrong way to stand up to someone in authority who is wrong. Telling a kid that they don’t have to listen to them is raising an arrogant ass, not teaching self-confidence.

    • whiteroses

      October 12, 2014 at 12:06 pm

      Everyone is not supposed to- or going to- show my son respect irrespective of how he acts or treats them. That’s just not how the world works. You show respect to someone in authority. And if you tell your children that they don’t have to show respect or basic manners to a teacher and the teacher has to earn it, I can pretty much promise you that the teacher isn’t going to be interested in earning the respect of one kid when they have twenty three others who actually want to learn.

    • whiteroses

      October 12, 2014 at 1:05 pm

      *not have a tantrum

    • Elizabeth Wakefield

      October 12, 2014 at 6:25 pm

      Being assertive when necessary doesn’t not equal disrespect, nor does gritting their teeth and smiling mean they are showing respect. You can respect the position of authority without respecting the person holding that position. You can also defy the authority you do not respect by going through the proper channels to express your concern.

    • WarriorMermaids

      October 12, 2014 at 2:34 pm

      I think parents telling their kids they don’t have to respect their teachers might be a matter of said parents trying to treat their kids as equal to adults. Which like, sounds good in principle, I guess, but there’s a reason kids generally aren’t given the same decision-making powers as adults. At home, the parents and children are equals, and the parent is trying to say that the same applies with other adults outside the home.

    • whiteroses

      October 12, 2014 at 3:58 pm

      Which, as we all know, doesn’t end well with 98 percent of the adult population.

    • Cee

      October 11, 2014 at 2:49 pm

      You’ve obviously never had a college class with a tenured professor or had a boss you did not get along with.

      First of all, in what sense do you mean respect? In terms of venerability or manners and following rules?There is a big difference. I do not respect my boss as a person. Her attitude gives nothing that merits my personal respect. However, I do not throw a stapler in her face or refuse to attend to students because she tells me what to do. It is a rule that I must attend to students in order to keep my job, a rule/order she imposes along with others that I must follow to keep my job and that keep the office in order.

      Same with the tenured teacher I brought up. I may not agree with his snobbery enough to respect him. But I don’t stand and yell in the middle of the class and disrupt all educational process because he didn’t earn my personal respect.

    • Assasymphony

      October 11, 2014 at 4:42 pm

      But that’s the thing – people in authority don’t need to earn the respect. It’s just the way things work.

    • FishQueen

      October 12, 2014 at 1:32 pm

      The idea is that by the process of attaining the authority (studying for years, practice/training), they’ve earned the respect. That said, if they don’t hold up their end of the deal by using that authority well, they do deserve to be called out on it- politely, *respectfully*, and appropriately, by the parents. I don’t get all these comments talking about parents training their kids not to listen when they don’t want to, thinking that’ll somehow equal assertiveness.

    • Darcy Hudjik

      October 11, 2014 at 6:32 pm

      There is a saying, if you want respect, be the first to show it. This saying applies to everyone, those in authority as well as those under them.

    • whiteroses

      October 11, 2014 at 7:35 pm

      Only in certain situations. Your boss doesn’t have to respect you. Your children should.

    • Darcy Hudjik

      October 12, 2014 at 12:57 pm

      Actually, it does if one’s boss expects respect and is insistently disrespectful to those under them. The workforce is not a dictatorship, and employees have rights.

    • whiteroses

      October 12, 2014 at 1:02 pm

      They do- but are you honestly telling me you’ve never had a boss who was a complete and utter moron, or that you’ve never really needed a job? Because in this economic climate, I’d find that hard to believe.

    • Darcy Hudjik

      October 12, 2014 at 4:02 pm

      What do you mean by”moron”? Do you mean incompetent? Because one can be incompetent and not be disrespectful and vice versa.
      I’m not wedded to one profession, so I probably have more options than you.
      Something that I have discovered in life is that when you don’t stand up for yourself when your rights are being violated, people treat you
      disrespectfully, which, in some cases, can lead to bullying. I have also learned about choices and learning to live with the consequences of the choices we make as adults, which is related to what the article is about.

    • whiteroses

      October 12, 2014 at 4:21 pm

      Congratulations, I guess?

      I was a teacher for most of my life and am currently a SAHM. In the course of my professional experience I can tell you that if you encourage children to believe that adults have to earn their respect, the child will treat them like a peer. See my comment above about my cousin’s child for a nice illustration about why that’s total crap. I’ve got no interest at all in earning my cousin’s kid’s respect, because he’s done nothing in his ten years on the planet to deserve it. When someone mistreats you a few times, you don’t tend to look kindly on them, especially when they’re old enough to know what they’re doing.

    • WarriorMermaids

      October 13, 2014 at 12:43 am

      The whole “don’t respect them until they respect you” thing is inherently flawed. With that, nobody initiates the respect, so you get a big cycle of bad behavior towards each other. A kid comes in the room and says “I’m not going to respect you right away! You have to earn it!” and then proceeds to behave poorly for the rest of the day. That kid isn’t doing anything to earn respect either, so going by his logic, why should the teacher treat him with respect?

    • whiteroses

      October 13, 2014 at 9:14 am

      Exactly. It’s a question that has absolutely no answer.

    • allison

      October 13, 2014 at 12:57 am

      Completely agree!

    • Assasymphony

      October 11, 2014 at 4:41 pm

      I was trying to think of how to put my thought into words, and you said it. Whether they like it or not, they must respect the authority.

    • WarriorMermaids

      October 12, 2014 at 1:13 am

      This is a big factor here as well. Freshman year of Spanish, there was a guy who would act up constantly and the teacher always had to stop class to deal with him. (she sent him to the office several times, but he got sent back immediately because he caaaan’t be deprived of an education) Even the slacker students hated him because he always caused us to have extra homework.

    • whiteroses

      October 12, 2014 at 1:03 pm

      Exactly. I’m sorry, but if you think you’re more important than other people’s time, you can’t demand respect. Jmo.

    • Myna

      October 13, 2014 at 12:39 pm

      Whoomp, there it is.

    • Cee

      October 11, 2014 at 1:49 pm

      I think many parents go into a mentality that it them vs the teachers. I feel that many of these experiences are shaped by what they might have dealt with as children. And yes, there are many teachers that do not command respect, but a lot of parents seem to prepare their child to not respect their teacher sight unseen. Almost like when you tell a kid “this movie is not scary” right before you hit play. You put that idea in their head before it even occurs.

    • TigersInLove

      October 11, 2014 at 2:03 pm

      I have to disagree. Teachers do not need to “earn” respectful behavior from their students. I’m not saying we can act like jerks –obviously we wouldn’t be effective teachers or expect to remain employed in the profession long if we did. Students may have many teachers over the years with whom they have personality conflicts, or they may have teachers who act unfairly at times, but that in no way entitles students to act disrespectfully in return.

    • allison

      October 11, 2014 at 2:21 pm

      You could flip it around to make the same arguement for teachers.

    • whiteroses

      October 11, 2014 at 2:24 pm

      Which is an argument that can be made as soon as the teacher in question doesn’t have thirty other kids to educate.

    • allison

      October 11, 2014 at 2:28 pm

      No. The arguement still stands. Teachers may have many students over the years that they have personality conflicts with, but that in no way entitles them to act disrespectfully.

    • whiteroses

      October 11, 2014 at 2:31 pm

      Nor does it entitle their students to act disrespectfully because Mommy and Daddy don’t make them do anything so how dare you?

      I’m not going to coddle one kid at the expense of twenty three others. I can’t think of a teacher in their right mind who would. And if a student tells me to go fuck myself (as some have) I’m not going to show them the same kind of respect I show other students who haven’t cursed at me. I may be a teacher, but I’m also human.

    • TigersInLove

      October 11, 2014 at 2:33 pm

      I never claimed teachers are entitled to act disrespectfully. No one is entitled to do that. What I claimed was that teachers do not have to first earn the respect of their students in order to demand respectful behavior. Respectful behavior is expected from students from day one in any classroom at any school because anything less disrupts the learning of all the other students. Students are not in a position to “wait and see” if they like their teachers enough to respect them.

    • allison

      October 11, 2014 at 2:43 pm

      I think of respect much differently than basic manners. I agree a student needs to follow the directions from the teacher and not be disruptive. That is not the admiration and deference one gives when they respect someone.

    • whiteroses

      October 11, 2014 at 2:45 pm

      The thing is- I don’t particularly care if my students admire me. But they better defer to my authority while they’re in my classroom, unless they want to get two degrees and spend most of their life teaching.

    • allison

      October 11, 2014 at 2:48 pm

      I have respected some of my teachers, others I viewed as an embarrassment to the profession. No student should be under the false impression that all of their teachers will be great people.

    • whiteroses

      October 11, 2014 at 2:49 pm

      Yes. Because teachers are human. But can anyone tell me they’ve never had a boss they considered a raving moron? It’s better to teach your kids how to get along with difficult people at an early age than to encourage them to disrespect others.

    • TigersInLove

      October 11, 2014 at 3:12 pm

      I think we’re treating the word “respect” differently. From my standpoint as a teacher, respect is about a student’s behavior, and has little to do with admiration for an individual. Most of my students like me, some might even admire me. But some don’t and never will, and that’s to be expected. Regardless, the ones who never like or admire me still have to behave respectfully toward me in my classroom–that simply means following the rules and obeying instructions.

    • Elizabeth Wakefield

      October 12, 2014 at 6:28 pm

      Exactly. Not all my kids like me or the subject I teach, but they show respect by participating in class, doing what is expected, and being kind to one another.

    • Lindsey

      October 11, 2014 at 2:43 pm

      And a big part of that is a teacher giving respect on day one to all students and not making them earn it either. If respect is not given, it cannot be expected to be received, either.

    • whiteroses

      October 11, 2014 at 2:51 pm

      Which is an argument that can easily be flipped around to students. If a student opts not to respect me, they can’t expect me to give them respect either. I will be courteous within the bounds of my profession but I’m not going to bend over backwards for you if you’ve proven you won’t appreciate it.

    • TigersInLove

      October 11, 2014 at 2:56 pm

      Lindsey, are you saying that students should wait to decide if they will act respectfully toward their teachers until their teacher’s behavior meets their definition of “respect”? If so, that would be an ass-backwards way to try to run a classroom, and I can pretty much guarantee total chaos would reign!

    • TigersInLove

      October 11, 2014 at 2:51 pm

      I never claimed students needed to earn their teachers’ respect. And I can absolutely expect respectful behavior from all of my students from the minute they first walk into my classroom on the first day of school, as can every teacher.

    • whiteroses

      October 11, 2014 at 2:36 pm

      Also- if you as a student decide you don’t care at all about your education, that’s fine, but why should other students suffer because of your bad attitude?

    • TigersInLove

      October 11, 2014 at 2:46 pm

      And to be clear, the student to which I referred whose mother told him he didn’t need to respect me was one who was repeatedly disruptive in all of his classes for all of his teachers over the years at this school. I never treated him any differently from any other student–just enforced school policy in response to his disruptive behavior.

      On a side note, sorry for totally “teacher-jacking” the comments, Valerie! 🙂

    • Cee

      October 11, 2014 at 2:53 pm

      Me too. Now I am ashamed!
      But its cool. Valerie did not earn my respect so I can disrespect her post.

    • whiteroses

      October 11, 2014 at 2:53 pm

      Me three…

    • allison

      October 11, 2014 at 2:59 pm

      Based on your comments I get the impression you are very nice teacher and your students do respect you. My comments are meant more globally. I dont want kids to tolerate mean teachers. I only ever had a few among many great teachers,but it made me recognize the teacher is not always correct.

    • WarriorMermaids

      October 12, 2014 at 1:24 am

      Define “tolerate”. Because even if the teacher is an asshole, there are still consequences if the kid refuses to listen or participate in class. If the teacher is doing something against the rules or seriously wrong, they can be reported. Unless the teacher is making racist comments, verbally or physically abusing students, picking on students, teaching inappropriate material, whatever, the student has no choice but to “tolerate” this teacher.

    • chill

      October 12, 2014 at 9:45 am

      And define “mean”. There are plenty of teachers who have been called “mean” by kids, who are actually wonderful teachers and it took years for the kids to recognize that.

    • FishQueen

      October 12, 2014 at 1:41 pm

      To a kid, “mean” might be being asked to do something appropriate that they don’t feel like doing. My teacher was “mean” in third grade for making us learn multiplication tables.

    • FishQueen

      October 12, 2014 at 1:39 pm

      And I would sincerely hope that if the inappropriate behavior fell under your worst case scenarios above, the parent would be the one dealing with standing up for the kid. Might be a little bit early to throw Junior in on his or her own to “not tolerate” that behavior.

    • allison

      October 13, 2014 at 12:09 am

      I agree that in those cases the parents need to handle it. I think that when parents are really adamant that teachers are to be respected no matter what it creates a dynamic where the kids feel they must obey even if something is really wrong. I resist that mindset that those in charge must be obeyed if you feel strongly opposed. Sometimes it is important to say no to something and face the fallout. Example: In residency when I was already working 80 hours a week my boss wanted me to take on more work, and didn’t really give me an option. I just said no. Disrespectful? Yes. Worth it? Yes.

    • FishQueen

      October 13, 2014 at 12:18 am

      But I am sure you agree that there is a polite way to assert yourself, no? The fallout will always be greater if someone comes out swinging, and having been a teacher of sorts, I will say that the students who didn’t learn how to assert themselves appropriately were much worse off than those who could say, “actually, I think XYZ” in a calm, unaggressive, respectful way. If those kids didn’t respect me, at least they were able to respect my role (and my job was to teach them classes on taking the SAT, so I have absolutely no doubt that they hated my presence if only for that reason).

    • allison

      October 13, 2014 at 12:29 am

      Most definitely agree with you. I just don’t believe in listening to ” authority ” without taking their own opinions into account. If I give a diagnosis and the patient thinks I am completely wrong I want them to tell me, not blindly follow my advice. If my kid tells me their teacher is a jerk I am going to listen and not immediately tell them they are wrong. I realize it is not a popular viewpoint in this blog but those are my opinions.

    • FishQueen

      October 13, 2014 at 12:46 am

      I think it’s a fine point of view, as long as there’s a nice balance. I had a professor in college who was an absolute narcissistic jerkface. My husband and I still use him as the butt of our private jokes, so there’s obviously not a whole lot of love there. HOWEVER, the man is an actual, real live genius. He’s written brilliant books and appears on national TV as an expert in his field regularly. I completely respect the process by which he gained his knowledge, the job he has to do, the years and years of work he out into it. I guess what I’m getting at is that it’s wholly possible, first of all, to respect parts of a person. Did I want to tell Prof. Smartass what I thought of him? Sure. But I saved it for his evaluations rather than showing him disrespect aloud (he still had complete control of my grade, after all, as your kids’ teachers do. I didn’t think that was appropriate collateral damage. If he’d really crossed a major line, I’d have spoken with the department chair. As it was, I voiced my opinion in an appropriate time and place and a respectful manner, which is really what my fellow commenters are trying to get at, if I can be so bold.)

    • Courtney Lynn

      October 12, 2014 at 10:26 am

      Nobody said it did!

    • Lindsey

      October 11, 2014 at 2:42 pm

      You, as a person of authority, have even greater responsibility to act in a respectful manner towards those you teach.

    • TigersInLove

      October 11, 2014 at 3:01 pm

      Yes, I absolutely have a responsibility to model respectful behavior for my students, and I never made the argument that teachers should act disrespectfully toward students. This is why, even when I am internally questioning decisions my principal makes or policies that are in place at my school, I would never voice these questions or defy school policies in front of my students. Respect for authority is all about your actions and self-control. Your actions don’t have to mirror your personal opinions.

    • Lackadaisical

      October 11, 2014 at 2:43 pm

      Sometimes your kid might get a teacher who is an idiot and not worthy of respect, teachers are only human and kids have so many of them over their school career. However, that does not make it OK for the student to show the lack of respect to that teacher in their attitude or behaviour and it is certainly not good for a parent to encourage a lack of respect or civility towards any teacher, even if that teacher is a raving idiot. If my one of my kid’s doesn’t get on with a teacher I encourage them to be even more polite, keep their head down and just get on with learning. Quite often the teacher gets on with them much better after that because the conflict was due to my kids attitude or my kid being over sensitive and blowing things out of proportion because after all they are just kids.

      Even if a child has an extremely awful teacher, one who is openly bigoted and a bully for example, a parent ought to teach the kid to stand up for themseves and others in a polite and mature way and report what happens to happens factually to the head teacher rather than fight douchery with rudeness and wild behaviour. In most cases this extreme example is not the case and the teacher is worthy of respect but the kid has demanding parents who can’t see their child’s bad behaviour and get arsey when things don’t go their darlings way.

    • Darcy Hudjik

      October 11, 2014 at 6:49 pm

      Are you advocating that your child put up with a teacher who is actually bullying them? If so, that’s just plain wrong, because a teacher who actually does so is violating their professional ethics and code of conduct.
      Also, bullying is very different from having a personality that is hard to get along with.

    • Lackadaisical

      October 12, 2014 at 3:34 am

      No, absolutely not, I said that bullying teachers were an extreme and mentioned reporting it to a headteacher and standing up to them when necessary in a polite way rather than acting out. I advocated remaining calm and civil, which will make the head teacher or anyone else a kid reports it to more inclined to believe them. I also only mentioned it because as rare and extreme as it is, it is the theoretical example that every “teachers need to earn the kids respect before the kids give it” parent I have met has given.

    • JessBakesCakes

      October 12, 2014 at 1:19 pm

      Of course I have a huge responsibility to respect my students (I’m a school counselor). What I don’t tolerate is blatant disrespect from my students. For instance, I had a girl threaten to beat my ass last year. Her mother said, “That sounds like (name)!” Nope. Not tolerated. I don’t have to kiss her feet and butter her up in that situation. I’m absolutely entitled to see to it that she has consequences that are appropriate. So you’re saying that I have to earn this student’s respect? Nope. Absolutely not. She doesn’t have to like me. She doesn’t have to be my best friend. But she does have to respect me.

      And part of the reason why that’s infuriating for me is that some of the kids I work with don’t have a respect for authority to begin with. (I work at a low income, title I, 98% minority school.) I start out telling each kid I work with that they’re allowed to feel what they feel, but it’s how they act on it that matters. They could hate my guts and think I’m the worst scum to walk the earth, but they WILL respect me. Just as I may not love to be around them, but I do and will respect them. But respect is subjective, too.

      I could be completely professional and respectful in the eyes of an adult, but in the eyes of an angry, defiant 14-year-old, respect is much different. When a kid comes to me pissed off that Mr. So and So put them in ISS, and I investigate the situation and find out that it was the kid’s fault he’s in ISS and back the teacher, they don’t respect me in that moment. They don’t respect me when I insist we call their parents because they brought (contraband item) to school. But I never disrespect these kids, according to MY definition of respect. I treat them like a human being, I don’t talk down to them, but I expect more from them. I have high expectations from my kids. I’ll listen to their point of view, and then determine how to proceed.

      Respect isn’t an “all or nothing” thing. Just because my students don’t think I’m worthy of respect, and I haven’t done anything to “earn” their respect, doesn’t mean they shouldn’t respect me.

    • Jessifer

      October 12, 2014 at 6:34 pm

      Reminds me of when I was a student teacher. I was dealing with a classroom with the rudest little girl I’ve ever seen. During lunch, another teacher asked “So what do you think about (student)” and I said “She’s pretty mouthy”. She laughed and told me that she was her daughter. I couldn’t believe it. She laughed at the fact that my first impression of her daughter was that she was “mouthy”, like she was proud of it! I would have been so ashamed if someone had said that about my kid. She didn’t care at all. I’m sure that in her mind, she thought she had an “outspoken” child but honestly, the kid was just plain obnoxious. I think some people tend to confuse these two qualities.

    • whiteroses

      October 12, 2014 at 8:27 pm

      Exactly. I don’t see where having a mouthy kid is something to aspire to. I aspire to raise a child who can stand up for himself but also get along with others. The two don’t have to be mutually exclusive.

    • JessBakesCakes

      October 12, 2014 at 9:35 pm

      Yes! So true. Having a “personality” and being obnoxious is a fine line. It’s why so many of the STFU Parents type parents fail to see where the line is.

    • Cee

      October 11, 2014 at 1:45 pm

      Yuup!
      I have had kids tell me what their parents say and it pretty much goes along those lines. “I don’t have to listen to you, you’re just a teacher/teacher assistant/principal” was a common one. I felt like saying “Bitch, who is you?!” But i would always just say “Well, you’re just a student, and were at a school, so I do get a say”
      But some parents have really enforced this attitude where you can only hope that life, in the form of their peers not putting up with this shit, can straighten them out.

    • WarriorMermaids

      October 12, 2014 at 1:11 am

      I always wish teachers were allowed to say “If you hate it here so fucking much, the door is right there. Quit wasting my time so I can teach kids who actually want to learn”.

    • Gruzinkerbell

      October 14, 2014 at 11:14 am

      The fastest smackdown I have ever seen laid on someone was when I was a classroom volunteer at my mum’s school, during one of my summer holidays a few years back. The kid tried to pull the ‘I don’t have to listen to you, you’re not the teacher’ on me, only for the teacher to overhear and tell them in no certain terms that even if I wasn’t a teacher, she very much appreciated having me in the classroom and that meant that whatever I said, the kids had to listen because I probably wouldn’t be telling them to do something if I didn’t have a really good reason for it.

    • Katherine Handcock

      October 11, 2014 at 2:15 pm

      That is ridiculous. Let’s assume the teacher was genuinely disrespectful to you (and not just, I don’t know, telling you that you have to do something.) Even then, you don’t answer disrespect with disrespect; you answer disrespect with respectful consequences. In the case of a kid, that could be saying, “I will not do that because it’s against school policy. If you insist, I will be going to the principal and my parents to let them know that you are asking me to do something inappropriate.”

    • TigersInLove

      October 11, 2014 at 2:23 pm

      Right–growing up, I had a couple teachers who were pretty awful and certainly didn’t “earn” my respect. But we all have to learn to deal with douches in positions of authority, because sometimes that’s just part of life. Teaching a child that she is the most important person in the universe and that all others must first show her respect before she shows it to anyone else is doing a huge disservice to that child.

    • WarriorMermaids

      October 12, 2014 at 1:12 am

      This. If you hate your boss, you can’t insult them or you get fired. Part of life is learning how to deal with bad people who might have authority over you. If the matter is serious, report them, otherwise, get over it.

    • C.J.

      October 11, 2014 at 3:49 pm

      The principal at our school is very disrespectful to students and parents all the time. My kids don’t have to respect him but they have to speak and act respectfully towards him. They know the difference between having respect for someone and being respectful to someone. You generally get further being respectful with someone you don’t agree with. My daughter really, really didn’t agree with something the principal did when she was in grade 5. She went and spoke respectfully to him about it and ended up getting an apology heard by the whole school to the grade 5 class. Had she been disrespectful to him she would not have been able to get him to think about why what he did was hurtful to her class. She actually got him to think about his actions.

    • Jayamama

      October 11, 2014 at 5:06 pm

      I have mixed feelings about this. Growing up, I was the type who would automatically respect any adult I encountered. It meant that many teachers and other adults really liked me, but there were some people who didn’t deserve my respect. They would treat me poorly, and I would let them walk all over me because I was taught to that all adults were authority figures and deserved respect. I think the balance here is to teach kids to respect adults, especially teachers, clergy, and law enforcement, but to also teach them what it’s like if the respect is not reciprocated and how to deal with that. My approach these days is to treat everyone with respect until they disrespect me.

    • TigersInLove

      October 11, 2014 at 5:34 pm

      I’m not talking about letting people walk all over you or abuse their position of authority. Whether it’s parent-child or teacher-student, neither one is an equal relationship, nor should it be. That’s the whole point of this article, as I read it. Parents have to assume authority over their kids in order to raise them to be decent human beings, and teachers have to command respect from their students in order to, well, teach.

    • TheQuirkyDiva

      October 11, 2014 at 5:26 pm

      Treating people with respect is about who you are. Not about how other people are. It also doesn’t equate to allowing someone to walk all over you or treat you badly. There are ways to remain respectful and assert yourself at the same time.

    • WarriorMermaids

      October 12, 2014 at 1:19 am

      I can’t help but wonder if that kind of stuff is an exercise in the parent trying to do things like how they wish they were raised. Like, they wish they were allowed to talk back to teachers and insult them, so they tell their kids that it’s okay to do so.

    • TigersInLove

      October 12, 2014 at 11:21 am

      Maybe…but I honestly just got the impression she was trying to keep her kid from ever having any consequences for his actions. She pulled this kind of thing a lot.

    • WarriorMermaids

      October 12, 2014 at 2:21 pm

      Maybe that’s still an extension of what she wanted as a kid. Growing up, she wished she didn’t have to face consequences for her actions cause that made her feel baaaad. I think most parents raise their kids how they wish they were raised.

    • Guest

      October 12, 2014 at 5:25 am

      I remember as a teen arguing with my mom that she did not get automatic respect from me because she was my parent. I told her I had none for either of my parents and they had to earn it. They were giant crap bags at the time and I was none to happy. That being said I still automatically gave respect to my teachers because they were doing their job, they were teaching me stuff, they were usually nice, and my parents would have whooped my ass if I told a teacher what I told them.

    • Ms.Anne'sNotoriousLadygarden

      October 13, 2014 at 11:14 am

      I recently saw the Brady Bunch episode where Marcia gets in trouble for something she didn’t do. Mr. Brady goes in to talk to the principal and basically says, “well, it doesn’t sound like something she’d do, but we will back you up if you say she did because you are the principal. We’re sorry this happened.” It is amazing what changes in 40 years.

    • Allyson_et_al

      October 13, 2014 at 3:50 pm

      God help the people who work with/date/marry these kids some day!

  8. Lackadaisical

    October 11, 2014 at 1:38 pm

    I was stunned by this last year when we were choosing secondary (high?) schools for my eldest. A lot of parents of his age group were moaning about their kids choosing the school that the parents didn’t want them to go to. A 10 year old choosing their school for the next 7 years? The one that will prepare them and pass them on to work or university? By all means listen to your kid, ask them what they like about one and don’t like aabout another, weigh up their comments amongst all the other things you consider. However, ultimately the adult has to decide as the decision is to important and if you leave it to the kid they will choose based on which uniform is prettiest or wanting to be with the kid you consider a bad influence or a bully and want to separate them from. They will not care so much about which one gives them the brighter future or which is possible to sort transport or lifts that work with your jobs that pay the bills.

    • whiteroses

      October 11, 2014 at 1:45 pm

      And they’re not supposed to- that’s the parent’s job.

      My FIL and MIL are good people but pretty much have their heads in the clouds, so my husband and his siblings essentially raised themselves. There’s six years of difference between my husband and his youngest sibling, and because someone had to take up the parenting slack that job fell to my husband. That’s why he loans money to his siblings, bought groceries, taught his younger siblings how to drive, did their laundry when they all came home from college- because someone had to be the dad.

    • ChickenKira

      October 12, 2014 at 5:21 am

      My parents let me pick a high school when I was 8. EIGHT. Looking back I don’t understand how that happened.
      My older cousin was going to orientation days, I tagged along one day, I was enamoured with this school, in particular the science labs and came home and said “I’M SO GOING THERE!” My parents said “Okay” and when the time came for me to go to orientation days I didn’t and they just enrolled me there.

      Logistically it made no sense, it was a private, religious school and my non-religious parents really had to stretch the budget to afford it. It also wasn’t a well performing school, when the local public school that we were zoned for was a FANTASTIC school. Still is. People intentionally move into that area to get into that public school, it has amazing facilities (and I am sure science labs I would have equally been impressed by… have I mentioned that I actually have no interest in science? I’m much more of an arts/humanities kind of person), an accelerated learning program and was not $7000 per year.

      Why would you leave that decision in the hands of an 8yr old? My parents didn’t even see the school until I started there.

    • Guest

      October 12, 2014 at 5:44 am

      Now this sounds like my parents. At least I was older but I had no idea what I was doing picking colleges or trying to pay for college. They just left it all in my hands and I fucked it up in several ways. Now I see my aunt on facebook taking her daughter to visit colleges all over the U.S. and discussing her plans and I am mighty mighty jealous.

    • Darcy Hudjik

      October 12, 2014 at 1:35 pm

      You’re right, 10 is way too young to make those kinds of decisions.
      What I’ve found helpful is explaining the criteria for these kinds of decisions to my kids (14 and 11) to encourage some thought about the decision on their part, strengthening the decision making muscles.
      Questions such as “Do you realize that subject x will be taught in a language other than English, will that meet your goals for understanding it better?”, “Which language option interests you more? (They, not the parent will be taking the course, although the parent has to be able to understand the language if they get stuck.)”, “What options and core courses line up best with what you plan on studying in post secondary or what you plan to work at ?” (Our kids have had an idea what they have wanted to do for work after post secondary, and we check each year to make sure that it hasn’t changed), “How far is this school from home?”(We don’t have a vehicle, so transit time for punctuality is important for us to decide.), “Will you be able to keep up with the pace if this is an advanced course?”, as well as getting their impressions of a school. I find this more constructive than just saying, “I’m the parent, so I decide where you’re going and what you’re taking!”
      Luckily, my kids don’t have their heads in the clouds with their options, work they’d like to do when they finish school, or pretty uniforms.

    • Lackadaisical

      October 12, 2014 at 2:31 pm

      I agree absolutely, the children do need to feel involved and need to be able to talk about what they want with a parent. However, at 10 (when names go down for new schools at 11) they are not in control and don’t get to demand which school they go to. We took our son on visits to schools, asked him what he thought and explained our preferences. He was happy with the school we wanted based on grown up considerations, the one we had moved into the area to be in the catchement for, so it worked out well. Had he hated it we would have listened and investigated the next closest school to see if it met our own criteria, but ultimately the decision was ours to make on his behalf. I do know people who chose schools for bad reasons at 10 because their parents let them and some of them regretted it later. One insisted on a school entirely for the pretty uniform and another asked for a particular private school even though the local state school was very good, the local children all went to the local state school and the parents struggled to afford it so that the father had to work two jobs.

    • thebadlydrawnfox

      October 13, 2014 at 9:57 am

      This reminds me of my mom letting my brother and me make medical decisions.

      When my brother was ten, he had serious tonsillitis, and my mom let him choose whether or not to have them out. Being ten and scared of surgery, he said no, and has had countless infections since.

      For me, it was an extra tooth, and I chose to leave it in. Now that I’m old enough to manage my own dental care, the teeth in the area are fixed in the wrong place and would be incredibly expensive and painful to fix.

      My mom maintains that it wasn’t her body so it wasn’t her choice, and I can appreciate her stance, but part of being a parent is making the hard choices for your kids.

    • guest

      October 13, 2014 at 11:17 am

      “Do you want someone to stick a big scary needle in your arm and cut you open or do you want to just go home and watch cartoons?” My gawd, she has to at least explain the details but even then sometimes kids (and hell some adults) are still too scared to make the right choice even if they know it is right.

  9. aCongaLine

    October 11, 2014 at 2:09 pm

    I agree, having the kid in charge is a terrible idea, both long term and short term. Absolutely. THere has to be balance, though, or it’s not healthy for the kid. It seems like you have balance in your house- your kids opinions are listened to, and validated, and the ultimate decision belongs with the grown ups. In situations where the kid has absolutely no say whatsoever (the total other end of the kid-boss scenario) and the parents have 100% of the power and voice, there can be as much damage, I think.

    A dear friend of mine had a daughter 3 months after I had my first. She sat down after getting a positive pregnancy test, and planned out her kid’s entire life to the minute detail. She’ll be going to X public school. She’ll be a lifetime girl scout. She’ll go to camp every summer all summer. She’ll be a chemistry major and education minor at X prestigious university in the area. It’s not just the big plans, either- the kid has no voice. Mom makes all of her decisions for her, everything is predetermined- under the mask of time management and preparedness- down to what color sippy cup she drinks from. SHe’s 3, so we’ll have to wait 5-10 years to see if there’s damage. Kid will ask for blue sneakers, and mom will say “no, we’re getting pink. you like pink.” It freaks me out a little.

    Balance, man. It’s all about balance.

    • Katherine Handcock

      October 11, 2014 at 2:13 pm

      I think the scariest thing in this comment is the mom’s response to a request for blue sneakers. “No, we’re getting pink. You like pink.” If you’re going to do this, at least own up to it and say, “No, we’re getting pink. I want you in pink.”

    • aCongaLine

      October 11, 2014 at 2:29 pm

      Yeah, I’m worried. It totally freaks me out. I love my friend dearly, but she’s very controlling, very type A, very intense. She has an idea in her head as to how her daughter should turn out, and what she’ll look like and be like along the way, and nothing, thus far, has shifted her opinions. Yikes. We used to do “growth spurt shopping” and holiday/birthday shopping with and for our kids together, (which is where I heard the mentioned comment) but nope. Now, we’re going to be busy, unless it’s sans kids. Because whoa.

    • 2Well

      October 11, 2014 at 4:10 pm

      Is this woman perhaps a narcissist?

      I bet she expects her daughter to marry a rich man and give her 2.5 grandchildren.

    • aCongaLine

      October 11, 2014 at 4:47 pm

      I feel like if I think about it too deeply I’ll combust my side of our friendship, lol.

      I think someone told her that once she had kids, her life would change, and she’s determined to prove that wrong, by having quite a firm hand on every detail that she can control.

      I’m sure we all have some mental hang ups over one thing or another- hers is just going to result in her kid going to a college that mom didn’t pick out, majoring in something mom doesn’t approve of, and marrying someone mom is less than thrilled with. Or, refusing to do any or some of the activities her mom has planned for her childhood. Dunno.

    • 2Well

      October 11, 2014 at 6:36 pm

      Or being gay.

    • whiteroses

      October 11, 2014 at 7:24 pm

      Seems like her kid has two options- obey and toe the line, or rebel just because she can.

    • koolchicken

      October 12, 2014 at 12:28 am

      I’m a kind of controlling, Type A, intense individual and I don’t do that stuff. This chick has a whole other bag of issues. I really hope she gets them sorted and fast. Scary stuff…

    • whiteroses

      October 11, 2014 at 2:19 pm

      I agree with this. I think a huge part of our jobs as parents is steering our kids toward making the right choices while the consequences aren’t earth shattering. They can’t make the right choices as adults if they’ve never been allowed a mind of their own.

    • C.J.

      October 11, 2014 at 3:36 pm

      That’s not mom being the boss, that is mom being a total control freak.

    • aCongaLine

      October 11, 2014 at 4:38 pm

      i agree- I’m hoping she’ll settle down as our kids age.

    • C.J.

      October 12, 2014 at 12:38 am

      For her child’s sake, I hope so too. I wouldn’t hold out much hope though. Control freak parents rarely change. Then they wonder why their children rebel horribly or grow up to have a nervous breakdown. At least in my experience.

    • Darcy Hudjik

      October 11, 2014 at 4:34 pm

      I completely agree. While you have to make sure kids understand that the parents (or other authority figures) are the ones in charge, they should be allowed to make a reasonable amount of choices;it’s necessary as they get older if you want them to learn how to make responsible decisions and gain confidence. As for the parents who insist on controlling every little detail of a kid’s life up to post secondary like the poor kid is in the army, they are the ones with the problem, rigidly insisting on the kid being in a specific program in middle school and high school (with no consideration of what’s right for their offspring) when the kid has either no interest or ability in said area, not letting them acquire any practice with decision making, or gaining any confidence. You need to find a middle ground.

    • Jayamama

      October 11, 2014 at 4:59 pm

      My older daughter is almost three, and I’m starting to give her choices about these sorts of things. I’ll give her two or three options that I’m okay with, and let her choose. She gets to pick which outfit she wears, what she wants to eat for breakfast and lunch, what I do with her hair, etc. But when it’s time for a nap or to leave the park, it’s time. Period. No negotiating. It really is important to have balance.

    • aCongaLine

      October 11, 2014 at 5:16 pm

      I think you and I are living parallel parenting lives. I do the same thing, on all accounts.

    • Allyson_et_al

      October 13, 2014 at 4:05 pm

      That is scary. We always gave the kids some limited choices when we could. Which of these two shirts do you want to wear? Here, I’ll read any of these three stories tonight. Do you want green beans or carrot sticks with that? As they’ve gotten older, the choices have gotten more open-ended, but we, as parents, maintain veto power. This child will likely grow up either not daring to make her own decisions (and being really open to creepy, controlling partners), or she will simply rebel as soon as she can, and come home one day with an unplanned baby, a face tattoo, and a drug problem.

    • aCongaLine

      October 13, 2014 at 9:00 pm

      It’s like Mark Twain said, “Everything in moderation.” Balance, balance, balance.

  10. Katherine Handcock

    October 11, 2014 at 2:20 pm

    I think there’s a difference between letting your kids make choices (age-appropriate choices) and putting them in charge. I’ll let my kids choose not to wear a jacket, for example — if I warn them it’s cold, and they don’t want to wear it, they won’t die before we get where we’re going. I’ll let them pick sneakers instead of rainboots — although the natural consequence for that is that you can’t splash in puddles, because you’re not wearing your boots. I’ll ask them what they want for lunch and accept what they ask for as long as it’s healthy.

    Putting them in charge to me means things like “Well, he only eats pizza and ravioli” and “Oh, I know he’s supposed to wear a helmet while biking, but he hates it.” The kid doesn’t get to choose on the non-negotiable stuff, but the little stuff? Whatever. You want to wear fluorescent green striped leggings under a red shirt? I’m not the one walking around like that 😉

    • chill

      October 12, 2014 at 9:15 am

      I agree!! It burns me when a parent says proudly, “well, they make their own choices” and then 2 minutes later complain how their teachers aren’t treating their kid the parent thinks they should be treated or how other kids aren’t friends with theirs (well, it’s because the other kids think your kid is mean and rude!)

    • KL Walpole

      October 12, 2014 at 12:00 pm

      Food is the only thing I really give my son choices with, because of his Sensory Processing Disorder, and even then, he cannot eat the same thing for dinner that he had for lunch. I do this because it’s not worth it to me for me to make him a dinner, have him refuse to eat it, and then have him be bitchy because he’s hungry, and me waste food.

      He’s otherwise a polite, courteous, hardworking child (his teachers tell me this!). I guess every kid has something high maintenance about them.

  11. Grr! Arrgh!

    October 11, 2014 at 2:54 pm

    Whenever I hear a parent claim to be their child’s best friend, I am always reminded of the following quote from The Opposite of Sex: “My mother was the kind of mother who always said she was her daughter’s best friend. Whenever she did, I thought, “Great! Not only do I have a shitty mother, but my best friend’s a loser bitch!”

    This is a foundational principle of my parenting philosophy.

  12. Aldonza

    October 11, 2014 at 3:28 pm

    Over the summer, my co-teacher referred to our theatre classes as a “benevolent dictatorship”. We listen to what you have to say, but we’re still the ones calling the shots.

    • TigersInLove

      October 12, 2014 at 11:22 am

      I’ve said the exact same thing to my students! I have your best interests in mind, but it’s my way or the highway, kiddos.

    • Elizabeth Wakefield

      October 12, 2014 at 6:30 pm

      Ditto on this. Totally used that as well.

  13. Assasymphony

    October 11, 2014 at 4:30 pm

    It’s proven that kids need boundaries and rules to feel secure and grow properly, emotionally.

  14. Kathryn Mackenzie

    October 11, 2014 at 5:11 pm

    Once upon a time I worked in the deli section of a supermarket. It was the worst job I ever had, and I’ve also been a cleaner of bathrooms, and worked in a shoe factory.
    Anyway…there was this one kid…Emily Rose. We all knew her name, because as she would be running around the store, knocking things off shelves, and screaming like a banshee, her mother would be wandering after her saying things like “Emily Rose, darling. Emily Rose, please stop.” “Emily Rose, it would be nice if you’d come back to trolley now. Darling please.”
    Not once did Emily Rose listen to her. And she was not a stupid child. If she wanted a free piece of smiley fritz (a lunchmeat with a smiley face on it), even at 5 & 6, she’d stop her screeching, walk up to the deli counter, read your name tag, and ask politely for a piece of fritz. <– which she learned to do, when one of the girls told her we only gave fritz to kids who ask nicely.
    Once she had what she wanted, she'd go back to being a little terror, while her mother did nothing to stop it beyond "Emily Rose, darling, please."

    • Allyson_et_al

      October 13, 2014 at 4:13 pm

      Yech. Makes me want to smack her mother. Also, the idea of smiling lunch meat freaks me right the hell out.

  15. Jezebeelzebub

    October 11, 2014 at 6:05 pm

    The way it works in my house is, the older and more mature LJ becomes, the more autonomy she has. And for the record, if LJ was a little shit in school she would feel my wrath. It’s not about if e likes the teacher or if the teacher likes her. It’s about doing what she is sent there to do. She doesn’t have to like it, she just has to do it. In life there are many times people sort of have to eat a little ration of shit in order to maintain their status quo or even as a way to get a leg up- making “nice” with someone you don;t really like or doing a job you don;t love doing in order to keep your job or earn a promotion or whatever. In life we must all accept the good with the bad. I love my job as a nurse, but I don;t love vomit. But vomit is often part of the job- so whatever. Into everyone’s life a little rain must fall. People who don;t teach their kids that life isn;t always a grand fucking parade are doing their kids a grave disservice and also subjecting the rest of us to their failure to raise a decent human being. But that;s the price we pay for living in society, ain;t it? Most people are mostly okay, so I guess that’s enough.

  16. koolchicken

    October 12, 2014 at 12:19 am

    In my family we had a 70/30 deal. From the day you’re born until the day you turn 18 your parents “own” 70% of you, you own the remaining 30%. Because during that time period your parents are required to feed, clothe, and care for you. They’re also responsible for anything stupid you do until that age. With a 30% ownership you have a voice, but never a deciding vote. When you’re 18 the roles reverse and you now own 70% and your parents get the 30%. Because they did raise you all those years and have your best interest at heart. Also because your actions as an adult will still reflect on them. So when they tell you not to tattoo your latests crushes name over your butt you don’t have to obey, but you do still have to listen.

    This is how I plan to raise my son. It worked for me and always seemed reasonable. And I am NOT having a 4 year old tell me how it’s going to be. #sorrynotsorry

  17. Georgia

    October 12, 2014 at 6:01 am

    If you let your kids have an input into household decisions, then they do have an element of control, and you are not the dictator, as this writer claims to be. That’s called a democracy. When I grew up, our opinions were not at all considered, and if we tried to have an input, we were flat out told ‘we do not care about your opinion, shut up and go to your room’. Those parents are the real bossy bosses, not these modern, ‘let the kids have a discussion but we have the final say’ parents. I’m not saying what they are doing is bad, just that they should claim to have such control when they don’t.

    • WarriorMermaids

      October 12, 2014 at 4:01 pm

      I think a lot of it today is giving kids choices based on what’s important. You’re going out to the park, you let your kid pick what s/he wants to wear so long as it’s appropriate for the event and weather. It doesn’t matter whether your kid picks the My Little Pony shirt and the flower print pants, or the souvenir zoo T-shirt with a green skirt. For dinner, maybe give them a couple things to choose from sometimes. (“spaghetti or chicken?”) But you might not let your kid choose what school to go to, or let him do things that inconvenience other people.

    • Allyson_et_al

      October 13, 2014 at 4:15 pm

      I give my kids choices, but they know that I, as the adult, have ultimate veto power. It’s not quite a democracy. I have to be the adult, so there is an inherent power imbalance.

  18. chill

    October 12, 2014 at 9:52 am

    My parents were very hands off (sometimes too much), but they instilled the important foundation of teaching right from wrong, being respectful and considerate, and understanding that there are consequences. This is what I think most parents of snowflakes miss. Once that foundation is set, then the child can feel free to make their own choices. When the child is young, this is more of a mix of freedom and teaching/parenting, and as they get older they get more freedom as the child shows they know how to do the right thing.

  19. RW

    October 12, 2014 at 11:55 am

    I have to keep reminding my husband NOT to ask our toddler yes/no questions unless he is content with a ‘no’ answer. “Do you want to go to bed?” Sets up an immediately battle of wills, while “time for bed!” is absolute and nonnegotiable. Sure, a kid can protest, but they weren’t given a choice only to have that choice ignored.

    • Allyson_et_al

      October 13, 2014 at 4:11 pm

      Exactly. When my kids were little, it was, “Time for bed! Which of these 3 books should we read?” They were given small amounts of control from pre-screened choices. As they got older, they got more choices, but they know who’s ultimately in charge.

  20. rrlo

    October 13, 2014 at 5:59 pm

    In my opinion, letting your kids call the shots on important things is lazy parenting. It’s really hard work to get a child to do something he doesn’t want to do but is good for them.

    It’s even lazier parenting when the parents “blame” their kids like “we are late because kid wanted to finish watching Ninja Turtle”.

    I don’t judge much at all but this I judge.

    Having said that, kids need to make age appropriate choices and they should absolutely have some autonomy. But every choice a child makes must be within the boundaries set up by their parents. Our kids rely on us to keep them safe and teach them how to make good decisions.

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