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THE LOOK. I remember it well (and somewhat fondly now that I use it on my own kids). In fact, it's family lore.

My mother could give us THE LOOK -- really more like a glare -- and we'd obey. THE LOOK was quite convenient in public where all the kids would behave or else. And I've never seen anything quite as effective at getting kids of all ages in our family to jump at whatever they were told to do.

According to clinical psychologist Patricia Dalton, THE LOOK and other parental tricks of the same ilk are disappearing. In today's Post health section, Dalton writes:

There's been a fundamental change in family life, and it has played out over the years in my office. Teachers, pediatricians and therapists like me are seeing children of all ages who are not afraid of their parents. Not one bit. Not of their power, not of their position, not of their ability to apply standards and enforce consequences.
I am not advocating authoritarian or abusive parental behavior, which can do untold damage. No, I am talking about a feeling that was common to us baby boomers when we were kids. One of my friends described it this way: "All my mother had to do was shoot me a look." I knew exactly what she was talking about. It was a look that stopped us in our tracks -- or got us moving. And not when we felt like it.

Dalton goes on to write that not only are kids not afraid of their parents, but many parents are afraid of their kids. Parents these days coddle those kids too much. Kids don't have to contribute to the housework. Parents tell them how great they are. And in the end, those kids can't handle life's normal roller coasters.

What do you see: kids controlling parents or parents controlling kids?

By Stacey Garfinkle |  September 11, 2007; 7:00 AM ET  | Category:  Elementary Schoolers , Tweens
Previous: 'Breast-Feeding Is Obscene' | Next: Do Kids See Black, White, Brown, Etc.?

Comments


I foresee a flood of complaints about various children's behavior in public places...particularly in restaurants. But here's my two cents: This issue has more to do with teaching kids respect (as the title of the post suggests) than about fear. It is also about teaching them appropriate public behavior than about fear. I've got a look too - but I hope that it serves as a reminder that public places call for public behavior more than a fear of me.

Posted by: KR | September 11, 2007 8:04 AM | Report abuse

I foresee a barrage of comments on children's poor public behavior - particularly in restaurants. However, I see the issue as less about fear of parents and more about respect of parents (as the title of the post suggests) and less about fear of the parents and more about appropriate public behavior. I have a LOOK too, but I hope it serves less as something for my children to fear and more as a reminder that public places call for public behavior.

Posted by: KR | September 11, 2007 8:06 AM | Report abuse

As the parent of a toddler, it seems to me that most of the parents I know are trying hard to instill discipline and respect in our kids. Of course, it's way too early to tell if what we're doing is working or not, but it's nice to see the effort being made.

I've often wondered about just how parents go about cultivating obedience in their kids without the use of fear. My own upbringing was heavy on fear and guilt, but I cannot honestly say that I respected my parents.

I know that I don't want to raise my daughter like my parents raised me, but I'm not sure I know exactly what to do differently. For now, we rely on clear rules, a firm tone, and removal from the problem situation. I guess we'll adapt as DD grows older.

Posted by: NewSAHM | September 11, 2007 8:07 AM | Report abuse

"My mother could give us THE LOOK -- really more like a glare -- and we'd obey. THE LOOK was quite convenient in public where all the kids would behave or
else. And I've never seen anything quite as effective at getting kids of all ages in our family to jump at whatever they were told to do."

What a crock of bull! If anyone thinks that kids can be controled and made to behave perfectly by giving them a dirty look, and never have to back it up with any consequences, probably owns several acres of primo swampland.

My theory as it stands right now, (but may change later because I'm making it up as I go along), is that if kids get the attention they need, there is no need for punishment. Correction when necessary, but punishment I've found not to be very effective, and besides, it takes a lot of energy to set up rules and enforce them. I'm happy with the teamwork approach where my wife and I are the leaders. It works for our family quite well.

Posted by: ISquirtLikeOldFaithful | September 11, 2007 8:30 AM | Report abuse

I see a lot of families that are ruled by children. Parents seem to be afraid of disciplining their children, and not just spanking (which I do not condone).

Posted by: Momof5 | September 11, 2007 8:36 AM | Report abuse

I have a look my oldest daughter refers to as "the bulldog face". When I use it, I tend to get a response - it means "Dad's upset, better do something about it NOW."

Why is "the bulldog face" effective? Because it's backed up when necessary. Is "fear" the right word? I don't know; it's not fear of me beating them because I've never done that and wouldn't ever do that. But they know that Dad only gets upset when they've done seriously wrong, and there will be serious consequences if the situation isn't corrected. It works.

The bottom line is: I'm not my children's friend, I'm their father. It's my job to raise them properly, and I'm by-gosh going to do that job to the best of my ability. I'm certainly not ever going to be perfect, but I'm going to try. And they're going to hold up their end of the bargain by doing their best at their job, which is to grow up properly.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 11, 2007 8:50 AM | Report abuse

ISLOF, just wondering - do you have kids? I've never met one whose lack of respect was due to a lack of attention. On the contrary, the brattiest kids I've encountered are the ones whose parents are obsessed with their every move, and treat them as though the slightest negative judgment would shatter their delicate psyche. These kids are not being taught that their actions have consequences. And while I don't condone spanking or punishment that's completely unrelated to the offense, I strongly believe that parents need to impose consequences and express disapproval when their children are rude, destructive, or otherwise acting out.

Posted by: Motherlove | September 11, 2007 8:52 AM | Report abuse

I think to many kids are controlling their parents. To many parents really want to be their child's friend and not their parent. I almost look it like this: when I was younger, my parent's always did what they thought was best for me. I often disagreed with them, but looking back, they were almost always correct. It's the way I'm trying to raise my kids.

Posted by: Jonathan | September 11, 2007 8:54 AM | Report abuse

*sigh* it's not exclusive to the Baby Boomers, Ms. Dalton. And besides - it would be your parents' generation who rocked in this situation for being good parents, not you.

I'm a Gen Xer with parents who were born during WWII, not after, so they are not Boomers. And as an adult nearing 40 with siblings in their 40s, my mother can STILL give any of us THE LOOK (not as effective now, though ;) ).

I don't have kids, but I work with them a lot in a volunteer capacity. Guess what? I've got A LOOK, and it calms most kids right down.

I agree, though, that the parent/kid dynamic has changed. My next door neighbor is pretty firm with her little girl - there are lines she simply can't cross and she knows it.

But when asked to do a chore and it takes all day for her to do it? That's okay. We would have gotten A LOOK (and more) for taking 8 hours to do a small sinkful of dishes or clean up our room.

Kids crave structure (even if they tell you don't). They like to know the rules. Of course they're going to try and break them, that's only human nature.

Posted by: Chasmosaur | September 11, 2007 9:12 AM | Report abuse

My Mother had the "look" too and yes, I was scared of my parents. Not scared that they'd hurt me physically, because they never laid a hand on me, I was never even spanked, but scared because I knew that acting up would be followed up with some kind of consequence, and if I got that look, I was most definitely headed that way. Now looking at it from an adult perspective, I absolutely respect my parents and realize they were right most of the time.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 11, 2007 9:12 AM | Report abuse

I grew up with a lot of fear not because my mother beat me but she yelled like a fire-breathing dragon! So yes, I treat my kids differently and more like equals. But we all count in our family so I'm not going to accept disrespect from my kids and I'm not going dish it out either. I'm stunned now at how well we get along (and one's in middle school no less!) compared to my own relationship with my mother. When they get out of line, my kids apologize. Maybe there'll be some downside to this style of parenting down the road but as far as I can tell mutual love and respect go a long way to raising good kids.

Posted by: No fear | September 11, 2007 9:23 AM | Report abuse

I am a first time mom with a 2 year old son and "the look" doesn't work for me too often. My son raises his voice and throws tantrums. I try to discipline my son by explaining to him his wrong doing and putting him in his crib in time out. He stops for the moment but he repeats the same things consistently. I know he is only 2, but I'm afraid that if I don't get a handle on it now, he will be disrectful to me as he gets older. Any suggestions?

Posted by: CD | September 11, 2007 9:32 AM | Report abuse

RESPECT! It is sadly lacking in our society: respect of parents, respect of authority, respect of others' possession. We are to blame, we've raised children who are the center of their own universe and yes, it seems parents are afraid of their own children.

Posted by: mom of 2 intelligent outgoing teens | September 11, 2007 9:36 AM | Report abuse

What's most important to teach your children are manners and respect. And the best way to teach is to be an example. Using words like please and thank you when you talk to others and especially your children is how they will learn. Kids learn how to speak from their parents and caregivers, they learn manners the same way. Of course, sometimes kids need a little reminding, but I'm always amazed at how much my 4 year old son mimics his dad's and grandfather's mannerisms.

Posted by: Mommywriter | September 11, 2007 9:42 AM | Report abuse

CD

"He stops for the moment but he repeats the same things consistently. I know he is only 2, but I'm afraid that if I don't get a handle on it now, he will be disrectful to me as he gets older"

Your kid is being disrespectful to you NOW.

Posted by: Jake | September 11, 2007 9:44 AM | Report abuse

CD - at 2, tantrums are normal. The best thing you can do is to try to prevent them (most of my toddlers' tantrums stemmed from their being overtired, overstimulated, or in need of a protein-heavy snack). Other than that - don't give in to them, and put some space between you and your son if the noise is getting to you. If my kids went beyond making noise and throwing themselves around - ie. started becoming violent or destructive - they needed to stay in their rooms until they calmed down. When he's a little older, 3 or 4, and he's better able to express himself verbally, the tantrums should happen less and less frequently. When they do occur, he will have a better understanding of the consequences you impose (timeouts or removal of privileges) and be better able to adjust his behavior accordingly.

At least, that's how it worked with my brood. :)

Posted by: Motherlove | September 11, 2007 9:45 AM | Report abuse

(FWIW - the 8:50 posting was mine; I just presumed my name would be automatically appended. Oops!)

CD - "the look" doesn't work yet because your child hasn't yet associated it with the consequences to follow. He's 2; that's to be expected. We have 4 kids; it took a while but they all learned.

Just keep with it. Give "the look", followed by consequences appropriate to the behavior if it doesn't stop. Eventually (probably in the next year or so) the connection will be made; he'll understand "uh oh; I'm getting the look; better stop this or I know what's coming."

Posted by: ArmyBrat | September 11, 2007 9:46 AM | Report abuse

I exercise "the look" and the deep gravely dad angry voice. I hate hate hate doing it, and the look in my kids eyes when I do it. But I feel like you have to, otherwise your kids will walk all over you and will not respect other adults. I suspect other parents feel the same way, and many simply don't do it and now there are an increasing number of children that don't respect their parents.

You've got to find some form of discipline that is effective. Maybe it's not shouting and giving angry looks like our parents did. Maybe it's not spankings. But you've got to find something. And if what you are trying isn't working, consider old fashioned methods. They are effective, though heart wrenching. You aren't doing your kids any favors if you are soft on them and let them walk all over you and be disruptive in public. They need to learn discipline to prepare themselves for school and ultimately work and adult life.

Posted by: Cliff | September 11, 2007 9:52 AM | Report abuse

Respect for fathers or mothers? In the country where Catcher in the Rye is routinely taught in secondary schools--both public and parochial? Where The Graduate reveals adulthood as the opportunity to seduce the kids? Where The Simpsons is a huge favorite? Where any claim to authoritarian dignity is elitism--and profoundly anti-democratic, since the authenticity of the claim is not a matter of the popular vote on the part of those who are required to respect something beyond their tastes?

Posted by: Crazycloud | September 11, 2007 9:58 AM | Report abuse

Yeah, at 2 tantrums are developmentally normal. All you can do is not give in, and try to prevent them by preventing the conditions that cause them (as a pp mentioned). My dd is 2.5, and pretty much only has tantrums when she's hungry or extremely tired. In those cases, the tantrums are not even because she wants something- it's more like she just becomes out of control and hysterical for no reason. So I feed her lots of protein and keep bedtime very early and that has eliminated most of the problem.

I disagree with the idea that fear=respect. I never feared my parents, but I always behaved very well. Mostly because I really liked my parents and wanted them to feel proud of me and want to do fun things with me. But I was a pretty sensitive kid, and realize that different kids need different kinds of parenting.

My in-laws were very strict and ruled by fear, and all their kids were at least moderately screwed-up because of it.

Posted by: reston, va | September 11, 2007 9:59 AM | Report abuse

I'm not sure what there is to discuss here. Yes, people should be respectful of others and that includes children. Yes, it's the responsibility of the parent to teach and model that respect. The end.

Posted by: mom of 2 stupid introverted teens | September 11, 2007 10:04 AM | Report abuse

CD-

You are on the right track. Ages 2 and 3 are very difficult. Consistently punish each wrongdoing. It's not uncommong for a two year old to do the same thing, even though he has been told it is wrong. Put him in two minute time outs. I would suggest not doing it in the crib. It can lead to problems with putting kids to bed. They associate the crib with punishment, when it should be associated with getting much needed rest. I would also suggest not doing it in his room. Find a place with no toys/distraction in a corner in a room that he will always associate with being only for punishment/discipline. Make him sit/stand there for two minutes. It may take time to get him to stay in one place (which is why I suspect you are putting him in the crib). I found staying there staring at our son with an unpleasant face to be effective. Tell him before and after why he is having a time out, make him apologize and give you a hug. Repeat, repeat, repeat. Also think of ways to reward good behavior (go to the playground, play with a special toy, go to the library) , or taking away privileges (take away a favorite toy for the day, no playground, etc...).

If found generally speaking a sharp tongue is as effective or more than corporal punishment. But I have used corporal punishment, and it was effective. Society is against it now, but everyone has to find what works for them.

Posted by: Cliff | September 11, 2007 10:06 AM | Report abuse

The best 'look' that I ever experienced came from the preacher at my church - he was a big (~6'4") guy and very smart and classy. I never, ever saw him yell or seem to get angry (I can't even remember him raising his voice!), but he could easily settle down a whole pew of 6th grade boys just by standing near them and briefly placing a hand on one boy's shoulder. A couple of times he gave 'the look' to us jr. choir members when we were giggling/fidgeting too much during the service - it actually wasn't much, just a brief pause during the sermon accompanied by a glance over, but not only did we shut up right then and there, but we all got scolded afterwards by the choir director AND our parents, when we got home (or at least I did). He really had a gift....

Posted by: notyetamom | September 11, 2007 10:18 AM | Report abuse

"My son raises his voice and throws tantrums. I try to discipline
my son by explaining to him his wrong doing and putting him in his crib in time out."

This is a prime example of what I call punative parenting. What you've effectively done is got revenge on your child by making him/her suffer as she/he has done to you. Typically, 2 year olds aren't mature enough to know that there is anything wrong with crying or raising their voice to get what they want. After all, they have practiced this behavior since birth.

Now for some tips on friendship parenting and why it works. When a child throws a tantrum, it should be a signal to a parent that the child is not only upset, but has lots of energy to carry this behavior on. Of course, take steps to ensure that your child doesn't damage any property or himself, but let the tantrum to run its course. And, by all means, this is not the time to rationalize with your child to convince him that their behavior is unacceptable - the kid could care less. I see so many parents do this and they are simply wasting their breath at best, and at worst, exasterbates the situation.

Once they are calm, they may fall asleep. Then you can put them in their crib and spare the lecture. However, if they can at least sit still and listen, it's time to teach them a strategy on how to behave in which they are more likely to get what they want. By just telling them they were bad and need to be punished without offering a solution is just plain poor parenting in my book. Yes, all my kids have held their hands in front of them and hopped around the house like a bunny and said things "May I pretty, pretty please have a cup of water." ... "with cream and a cherry on top."

It's so darned cute!

But if you want to thump your chest and brag about "being the parent, not a friend", or "i set clear boundaries", or whatever, don't expect to enjoy parenting as much as I do.

Posted by: ISquirtLikeOldFaithful | September 11, 2007 10:18 AM | Report abuse

ISquirtLikeOldFaithful

"Now for some tips on friendship parenting and why it works"

And why it is looney toons...

Your name is also kinda cuckoo bird...

"But if you want to thump your chest and brag about "being the parent, not a friend", or "i set clear boundaries", or whatever, don't expect to enjoy parenting as much as I do. "

Gosh, since humans are social animals who CRAVE LEADERSHIP(BOSSES), maybe that's why kids need rules and boundaries and appropriate behavior stuff so that they will learn how to live sucessfully in the group. The kids who don't get this end up in prison.

Posted by: Jake | September 11, 2007 10:34 AM | Report abuse

I just gave my 18 month old 'the look" this morning. She got it. I taught Hebrew School for years so I have that look perfected and use it now when I'm really being serious. She didn't do anything out of control, but it was time to reel her in and get ready to get in the car. I don't use it all the time, but it helps reinforce when Mommy means business. It works about 75% of the time. The other 25... well, she is only 18 months! :)

Posted by: Mama | September 11, 2007 10:38 AM | Report abuse

That is because some "experts" told us we have to be friends with our kids and then, maybe, parents. Friends don't always get respect but real parents do.
Obviously kids know how to test us and push the envelope until the push it too far and the consequences are not pretty at all for the little bugger.
Attention boomers and politically correct parents, to learn how to exercise authority you need to know how to obey first and please, lose those "how to" books, use your own judgement and values instead of relying on strangers who make money telling you what to do. Use what your mom taught you.

Posted by: Augusto | September 11, 2007 10:38 AM | Report abuse

CD, I agree with Cliff. My son, now 6 spent a lot of time in the corner when he was that age. The key to effective discipline is consistency. Consistency requires a great deal of effort and self discipline on the part of the parent. Sometimes my son would be in the corner 10 times before noon. It was a long year, but now I have a very nice, respectful young man who knows that the look is backed up with consequences. As he got older the consequences evolved. Currently, he may lose a toy or playtime with a friend. This does not happen frequently, I think, becuase we put the time in on the front end. We used the same techniques with our daughter. AND, I'm great pals with my kids when appropriate. We play together and enjoy ourselves, but as my mother once said to me "You will have a lot of friends in your life, but only one mother." I think there's a lot of wisdom in that. Now that I am older we are friends, but when I was 14, I needed someone to parent me. Good luck. I'm sure you are doing a great job.

Posted by: Moxiemom | September 11, 2007 10:38 AM | Report abuse

"The bottom line is: I'm not my children's friend, I'm their father. It's my job to raise them properly, and I'm by-gosh going to do that job to the best of my ability. I'm certainly not ever going to be perfect, but I'm going to try. And they're going to hold up their end of the bargain by doing their best at their job, which is to grow up properly."


That's what I am talking about!!!!.

Finally a sane ADULT who really gets it.

Posted by: Augusto | September 11, 2007 10:46 AM | Report abuse

I am kid free, and was actually able to shut someone else's toddler up with "the look"! We were all waiting for tables at a restaurant, and the little scamp let out one of those shrieks that toddlers seem to be prone to making. His mom didn't notice. He looked at me with a smile on his face, as if to say "hee, hee, I'm going to do it again". One good glare and he changed his mind.

Posted by: Kid Free in Alexandria | September 11, 2007 10:51 AM | Report abuse

I grew up scared to death of my mother. Not so much my father because he was always working and not around the house much. We learned not to say anything within arm's reach of mom because she'd reach out and slap us across the face. She read our diaries then punished us for what we wrote. She didn't care who was around when she bawled us out or made nasty comments to us. I swore that if I ever had kids I would not make them afraid of me. However, there is a big difference between discipline and abuse. Disciplined, well-mannered kids are a joy to be around. There aren't enough of them.

Posted by: Lurking for today | September 11, 2007 10:52 AM | Report abuse

We raised four boys - challenging at times. Never had a call from the police, one or two from the school. Never had any trouble -- kept them working hard - at 13 our oldest son has his own lawn care business, kept growing up to $20,000 in business each year. Eventually all the boys were partners. Busy kids do not get in trouble, I worked right along side them. Took them to church every Sunday. They knew that respect was expected, and their mom and I respected them and still do. All four are making their own way -- two working good jobs and two in grad school.

Posted by: olenorthpole | September 11, 2007 11:02 AM | Report abuse

olenorthpole

"Never had any trouble -- kept them working hard - at 13 our oldest son has his own lawn care business, kept growing up to $20,000 in business each year."

Blech! Don't be surprised when your kids stick you in a nursing home to eat gruel!

Posted by: Jake | September 11, 2007 11:07 AM | Report abuse

My two daughters are grown now, but they still remember "The Mother Eye." I learned it from my mother. One daughter is a teacher now. Shortly after she started her first real teaching job she called me and said,"Hey, Mom. I know how to use "The Mother Eye!"" Both young women agree that it was the most effective form of discipline and they plan to cultivate it for their own children. If I remember, you only have to follow up on the threat once with something like a quick removal from a restaurant or playground, and then the power will last forever.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 11, 2007 11:09 AM | Report abuse

I am a frequent user of phrases like "because I said so" or "I'm the mommy, that's why". This teaches my children that there are many situations in which a parent's wishes trump their own. And that's good when they're young, but as they get older, various things will be up for discussion. However, until they're out of the house, they're going to follow the rules or meet up with many obstacles as they try to do what they want.

I have met plenty of parents who think children should never be told "no". This is such a joke to me. What is wrong with hearing the word "NO"? Kids need boundaries, and they need to be taught to respect others as well as themselves. Granting a child's every wish will result in a nightmarish, spoiled brat who turns into a demanding PITA as an adult.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | September 11, 2007 11:09 AM | Report abuse

I was raised with clear, consistent boundaries. My parents weren't my friends, they were my parents. And my teenage diaries were filled with "i hate my dad because...blahblahblah" Often it was because they didn't let me do whatever I wanted to. If I didn't clean my room, no going to my friends house. If I disobeyed my curfew, no going out for a few weeks. Get caught lying? No car. They were consistent. I understood that my actions had consequences. This has helped me tremendously as an adult. Now that I am an adult and don't live with my parents anymore, they are kind of like my friends. I enjoy spending time with them. You're supposed to be friends with your kids when they're adults...not when they're 4.

Posted by: a product of | September 11, 2007 11:11 AM | Report abuse

I agree with a lot of the comments. First let me say I am a parent. I have a barely 3 year old. I am lucky (and I use "lucky" loosely) that my dd really did not have a "terrible 2" stage. That is because from the very beginning I made a concerted effort to talk to her, not coddle her and not give in when I see the onset of a potential tantrum (which by the way as someone said earlier is 99% of the time associated with her either being tired or hungry). I ignore, or rather do not feed into, giving attention to bad behavior but rather encourage her when she does something good. I very rarely (as in once) use corporal punishment because it is not necessary. And I always explain to her to consequences. She gets it (probably better than some adults I know). When she cries or I see the behavior coming I can give her "the look" like a pro...she asks me if I am mad (or she'll say "mommy has a mad face") and she'll stop (I never use the word "angry" by the way, because it implies that she should be afraid when rather she should be respectful which was the original point of the blog). My mother looks at me crazy sometimes when she sees me explaining things to my dd, but the end result is she understands her boundaries. I'm not saying she's a perfect kid 100% of the time, but I don't have a lot of the issues that I hear my other friends with children complaining about. I know this is a long answer, but for CD I agree with Moxiemom and others that consistency and consequence is the answer. This is a hard stage for toddlers (and hence why I said I used lucky loosely), so don't get too discouraged. Good luck

Posted by: DD | September 11, 2007 11:25 AM | Report abuse

I am the father of a one year old boy and a 7 year old girl. I read about developing a "tone" and a "look" early on as a parent and it was one of the best pieces of advice I ever learned. It works like a charm to disuade bad behavior and I have never had to follow-it up with physical discipline. I see many parents who think discipline is something that must be administered "on the spot" but that can cause your child to have very negative feelings about you and the situation. I always take time to pull my child aside afterward and talk to her in private, so she is not shamed in public, but realizes what she has done and why it is not acceptable. RESPECT is something that is learned as we grow older. FEAR is something that works with younger children, but it must be followed by love and understanding to show your child that the fear they feel is not the result, but a step on the way to "being better" with your parents. I was raised with fear and physical punishment (not abuse) but it never made me focus on the right and wrong of what I was doing or not doing. I would focus on the punishment and how it made me feel about me and my parent. We have so many tools at our disposal these days that we should be able to teach RESPECT without abuse. Our parents did not have all these tools. Sorry to ramble, but I just wanted to weigh in.

Posted by: FB | September 11, 2007 11:31 AM | Report abuse

I think this discussion is fundamentally flawed because a kid doesn't understand "respect".

Respect is a feeling I have for my parents now as an adult; we can disagree about what's right and wrong for me, but I understand they are good people who generally want the best for me so I don't summarily shrug off their suggestions even if I disagree.

It's a concept that comes about with maturity.... with the ability to look back on a relationship and evaluate it.

A child (even many teens) are incapable of truly expressing respect because they don't have the perspective or experience to really evaluate their relationships with people.

What's important from a child is obedience... because you, as their parent, DO know what's best for them and they should follow your direction until they have the maturity and ability to determine what's good for themselves (hopefully in their.

Whether you have the best of intentions for them should not be up for question and I think that's a hidden danger of allowing kids to question the authority of their parents too early. The child doesn't have the foundation of following the parents directions and things working out for the best, so they see no reason to follow anything their parents say, even when it's obviously for their benefit.

Posted by: A.John | September 11, 2007 11:35 AM | Report abuse

I see this in every public place, constantly. Kids don't respect parents because parents don't demand it. Kids know that the parents won't hold the line against whatever the kid is demanding or doing that they shouldn't, and so since they know that 'NO' isn't enforced, they run over them like buses. While I don't like spanking as a regular practice, a little swat on the fanny for very little ones who are way over the line isn't felony child abuse. Sometimes it's the only way to get their attention. I'm sure I'll be flamed right out of my skin for saying this, but it's true. I dread living in a world where the 8 year olds I see in the grocery store have drivers licenses and vote, because I don't know how they will ever become acquainted with the consequences of their little ids run wild.

Posted by: Lori | September 11, 2007 11:35 AM | Report abuse

A.John, what I think is meant by 'respect' in this context is a child's sense that a hard look from Mom or Dad accompanied by a demand to stop grabbing food off the shelves at the store, or to stop leaning over the railing, or whatever, is not to be trifled with. It's not a subtle psychological perspective, it's the sense that, "Gee, my mom or dad is talking to me, and means it, and I better pay attention and do what is asked of me."

Stated as such, it's very clear which kids do and do not respect their parents.

Posted by: Lori B | September 11, 2007 11:39 AM | Report abuse

Nothing worse than seeing children totally ignoring their parents, while the parents impotently" say "TIMMY, do you want to go to timeout?". I told my wife one day the time to impose authority is NOW, not when your kid is 6 foot 2 and 16 years old. Spanking definitely has a place in a parent's arsenal.

Posted by: pATRICK | September 11, 2007 11:42 AM | Report abuse

There is an interesting segway between parenting discipline and discipline in school. For a teacher, the parent(s) of your students are the best friend you have, unless they are the worst enemy. This all has to do with the parent's relationship with the child, and the amount of respect that the child has for the parent. Children that "rule the roost" so to speak, tend to be disrespectful in the classroom, because they have their parents to back them up. The opposite is also true, children that have a respect for their parents also tend to be well behaved in the classroom, because they understand that actions in school have consequences at home as well.

As for how a parent does that, it is up to them. I, myself, prefer the so called "authoritative" style. Set out standards before hand with their associated rewards and discipline. It can be much like having a teaching relationship, but it definately has its rewards.

Posted by: David S | September 11, 2007 11:48 AM | Report abuse

Thank god, I thought I was the only one who noticed this or at least thought it is not a good thing. It drives me nuts when I see parents asking, practically begging their child to do some simple task. It makes me wonder who's in charge? One instance that comes to mind, I was over a friend's house, the kids were upstairs playing while the adults were downstairs watching tv, when it was time to go, two of the parents kept politely asking thier children to come down so they could leave, they were ignored, this went on for about an half an hour before, jokingly, I yelled up to the kids to come down...they came running.

Posted by: child-free | September 11, 2007 11:49 AM | Report abuse

We have the look, but really we start counting to three and if whatever we say is not done, they know something will happen. Amazing how fast kids can run when you start counting.

Posted by: pATRICK | September 11, 2007 11:50 AM | Report abuse

I think there is a fundamental flaw in this discussion. I would never want my children to fear. in my opinion that is not what being a parent is about. I have a 3yo and a 1.5yo who don't always listen. But I don't want them to listen simply because they think they might get hit by me (that is what a spanking is...hitting). My 1.5 yo still will hit when he is playing because he thinks it is fu. How can i possibly teach him and his older brother that it isnot ok to hit by hitting them on their butts. there is something counterintuitve to that.

Of course I want my kids to respect me and that will come with time. They are too young to understand the concept of respect. That is something that comes much later in life. For now, explaining to my older boy why he can't do something helps him to learn the consequences of his actions. And timeouts do work. I am not afraid to say no. And if I do so in public and he wants to have a tantrum I am always predpared to remove him from the situation to show him that having a tantrum will not help him get his way. And over time this has worked.

But fear and respect are not the same thing. And later in life when my kids know what respect means, I know they will not respect me if they spend their whole childhood fearing me.

Posted by: HappyDad | September 11, 2007 11:53 AM | Report abuse

Lately, whenever I read about new research on child-rearing, I feel like all the new "discoveries" are really people RE-LEARNING how to raise kids. For instance, a recent study reported on CNN stated that for pre-schoolers with ADHD a firm schedule makes all the difference in keeping it from getting worse and actually helps in the long run. Well, duh. I feel like my parents and grandparents all knew (and mother always says) that kids need a schedule/routine. Kids also need a certain amount of discipline and to learn respect. This shouldn't be some new discovery. Why parents have STOPPED doing all this is what should be researched. Counting to 10 to get your kid to stop misbehaving only teaches them that they can be a brat for another 10 seconds without getting in trouple. No means no. And if a kid doesn't understand that, it is the parents' fault, not the kids. If a kid doesn't respect their parents, again, not the kid's fault.

A 4 year old doesn't need a 39 year old friend.

Posted by: duh | September 11, 2007 11:54 AM | Report abuse

"I was over a friend's house, the kids were upstairs playing while the adults were downstairs watching tv, when it was time to go, two of the parents kept politely asking thier children to come down so they could leave, they were ignored, this went on for about an half an hour before, jokingly, I yelled up to the kids to come down...they came running."


Childfree, this has less to do with the children's respect for you and more to do with their desire to irritate their parents, I'm afraid. You always hurt the ones you love . . .

Posted by: WorkingMomX | September 11, 2007 11:57 AM | Report abuse

"A 4 year old doesn't need a 39 year old friend."

A 4 year old that has a loving parent, whishes him the best, models respect, demonstrates cooperative behavior and challanges him to the best of his ability is one of the best things a child can have. What is there about this that's not being a good friend?

Posted by: ISquirtLikeOldFaithful | September 11, 2007 12:10 PM | Report abuse

duh

"A 4 year old doesn't need a 39 year old friend."

In many cases, the 39 year old parent makes the 4 year old a "best friend forever" because the parent doesn't know how to maintain adult relationships.

Posted by: Spike | September 11, 2007 12:11 PM | Report abuse

I'm all for setting boundaries and establishing high expectations for behavior for our kids (4 and 2). The other day my 4-year-old told me, "I hate you Mommy" because I'd taken away a privilege due to her misbehavior -- someone once told me that when your kids say they hate you it means you're doing your job.

They're not supposed to like me all the time! My job is to raise them to be confident, healthy, independent adults not to be my best friends.

I've seen a friend's daughter (age 8) throw a tantrum that I'd be embarrassed if my 2-year-old son threw....I guess I know who runs the show there.

Posted by: JennyK | September 11, 2007 12:13 PM | Report abuse

"A 4 year old that has a loving parent, whishes him the best, models respect, demonstrates cooperative behavior and challanges him to the best of his ability is one of the best things a child can have. What is there about this that's not being a good friend?"

A friend is more or less equal in the power equation.

Posted by: Monica | September 11, 2007 12:15 PM | Report abuse

I'll be friends with my kids when they hit their 20s. Until then, I'm Dad, I'm in charge, and they do as I say (which is really what their Mom says!).

Posted by: Arlington Dad | September 11, 2007 12:26 PM | Report abuse

Wow, until ISquirtLikeOldFaithful came along, I had no idea that there was even a philosophy of "friendship-parenting". I always assumed that people who tried to be their kids' friends rather than parents were just stupid and/or incompetent. Now, I know that there are actually people out there misleading them into thinking that "friendship-parenting" is an acceptable form of parenting.

Posted by: Ryan | September 11, 2007 12:28 PM | Report abuse

I agree that I don't want my children to "fear" me. Fear does not create a positive life-long relationship. I also agree that respect is an adult concept and comes after a period of maturation. I thnk what we are talking about is "what is discipline and how should it be managed?"

Discipline should not be confused with punishment. Discipline is order, dependibility, and safety. Helping children understand that if they are tired we will protect them while they sleep; if they are sick we will help them feel better; and if they behave correctly they will have friends, entails a good amount of disciplining of children on parents' part. If we discipline our children so that they come to appreciate that they are safe in our hands and that they can depend upon us, then we can have a mature relationship where we can both respect each other.

I respect the decisions made by my grown children. They must feel safe with me because they do not hesitate to share their decisions with me.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 11, 2007 12:30 PM | Report abuse

WorkingMomX, my goal was not to earn their respect, it was to stop the "come on lets go" 20 times. Not that I think yelling is the answer, it drives me crazy when I hear a parent yelling at their child, especially with expletives, thats no better, maybe even worse than appeasing the child.

Posted by: child-free | September 11, 2007 12:33 PM | Report abuse

I have 3 children, now 21, 19 & 16, and the look still works with them. So does the "Mommy voice". My kids did throw tantrums when overtired and/or hungry. My 16 year old still sulks when forced to go somewhere he doesn't want to be, i.e. museum, but we just ignore him. We punished consistently, with timeouts, and push ups when they were disrespectful. They knew what behavior was expected, what grades where expected, and that there were consequences for failing to meet them. My oldest son still talks about the 6 months he went without video games in middle school because he had bad grades due to missing assignments. The amazing thing was that the teachers talked about my husband & I for years because we came to the school, met with the teachers, and tried to resolve the problem. Apparently, too many parents blame the teachers. Teaching consequences for your actions, both good and bad, raises pretty awesome kids. Mine are perfect, God knows, but they are pretty good.

Posted by: Sparks | September 11, 2007 12:36 PM | Report abuse

Yelling is easy. But what I have found to be really effective lately is to squat down and look them in the eye, speak quietly and authoritatively, and get them to either confirm that they understand or even repeat back what I told them. Don't have to do this often, but it works.

Posted by: Arlington Dad | September 11, 2007 12:37 PM | Report abuse

Uhh, that was supposed to be are not perfect. ;-)

Posted by: Sparks | September 11, 2007 12:39 PM | Report abuse

I have seen people humiliate their children in public and it's awful. I don't want to see a kid having a tantrum, but I sure as heck don't want to see the parents having one, either.

Posted by: va | September 11, 2007 12:43 PM | Report abuse

"I'm not my children's friend, I'm their father. It's my job to raise them properly, and I'm by-gosh going to do that job to the best of my ability. I'm certainly not ever going to be perfect, but I'm going to try. And they're going to hold up their end of the bargain by doing their best at their job, which is to grow up properly."

right on!

Posted by: Anonymous | September 11, 2007 1:04 PM | Report abuse

mostly it's about saying 'no'...statistically speaking, half of all answers to children (or anyone) should be 'no'...and they need to learn to accept it...

Posted by: Anonymous | September 11, 2007 1:06 PM | Report abuse

But I don't want them to listen simply because they think they might get hit by me (that is what a spanking is...hitting)

I do, because running in the street is not negotiable and children need to reminded not to do something. If the threat of a spanking keeps them from getting run over, then fine. "Timmy don't run in front of that car or you might get a timeout" doesn't carry the same weight with an impulsive, immature child.

Posted by: pATRICK | September 11, 2007 1:18 PM | Report abuse

""I'm not my children's friend..."

What a shame. You are missing out on so much in life that it's truely sad. But if playing Mr Dictator on a blog gives you a power trip and boosts your ego, go ahead, that's why it's here.

Posted by: ISquirtLikeOldFaithful | September 11, 2007 1:23 PM | Report abuse

"But what I have found to be really effective lately is to squat down and look them in the eye, ..."

Now there's a parent that has no problem stooping to the level of their kid!

Posted by: ISquirtLikeOldFaithful | September 11, 2007 1:26 PM | Report abuse

"But I don't want them to listen simply because they think they might get hit by me (that is what a spanking is...hitting)"

--And there's nothing wrong with spanking/hitting a child. (yes, I have a 3 year old daughter and use spanking as a form of punishment.)
And at the age, I simply do not mind if my daughter associate bad behavior with a consequence of being spanked. It's not like she can a highly rationalize her bad behavior.

Posted by: Soguns1 | September 11, 2007 1:27 PM | Report abuse

Anyways, HappyDad is the same person who said he'll rather have his kids expect, say, some icecream, if they behave well in public than if they behave badly and expect a punishment.
I'll take the latter anyday. I don't want my daughter expecting treats just because she behaved well at our trip to Home Depot. Rather, I do want her to know that if she behaves badly, there are consequences. I simply refuse to reward behavior that is expect from her.

Posted by: Soguns1 | September 11, 2007 1:31 PM | Report abuse

ISquirtLikeOldFaithful, I am in complete disagreement with you, just so you know. I have friends, and I don't need more. My kids have friends, and they need me to be their parent. I've seen first hand with my stepdaughter what arises when a parent (in this case, her egg donor) attempts to be friends with their child. It's not good. In my experience, the parents who want to be friends with their children either don't have the balls to stand up to them or they are living vicariously through them (especially true in the teenage years) and need to get friends of their own and to whom they've not given birth.

The role of a parent is not like any other role in a child's life. Why you'd want to reduce it down to being "just friends" escapes me.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | September 11, 2007 1:32 PM | Report abuse

"I've seen first hand with my stepdaughter what arises when a parent (in this case, her egg donor)"

I really, really hope you don't refer to your stepdaughter's mother this way in front of the child. She could be the lowest scum on the earth, but to this kid, she's still "mom."

Posted by: va | September 11, 2007 1:36 PM | Report abuse

VA, I would never, ever do that in front of my stepdaughter. I've never even slipped. Don't worry. But for what it's worth, the egg donor is lower than the lowest scum on earth.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | September 11, 2007 1:41 PM | Report abuse

HappyDad, I'll disagree with you to some extent. I never taught my kids that hitting is always wrong - I taught them that there's a time and place for everything.

All of my kids took self-defense classes - usually karate or taekwando. They know that it's wrong to hit someone for "fun", or to start a fight, but they also know that if someone else hits them they can defend themselves. Sorry, I'm not going to teach them not to defend themselves because it would be wrong to hit their attackers.

When my son wanted to play football, he learned about "hitting" in another sense (football players don't punch each other with fists, but they certainly 'hit' each other). But he learned the rules and what's appropriate and not appropriate.

Similarly with spanking. I can only recall spanking one child one time, but that's all that was needed. A swat on the fanny can get a kid's attention real fast. But how do I teach them not to hit when I spank? I don't teach them "not to hit", I teach them that there's a time and a place; there are rules to follow.

Kudos to whoever pointed out that you can often get a child's attention better by looking them in the eye and talking softly but firmly. That tactic works in disagreements with adults, too. Often, when someone is upset and loud, the most effective thing to do is talk quietly - it forces them to stop and listen to figure out what you're saying, and then you're in control of the situation.

Whatever's appropriate for the situation.

Posted by: Army Brat | September 11, 2007 1:45 PM | Report abuse

right on as usual WORKINGMOMX. My son and daughter will have many friends in life, I am the only father they will ever have.

Posted by: pATRICK | September 11, 2007 1:47 PM | Report abuse

I had the "fear" parents, and sometimes punishments crossed the abuse line. We haven't been close since I left home 30 years ago. I can't follow their model of parenting. Not in good conscience, anyway, but I could easily have become an abusive parent, too. It's down there deep in the beginning of my life.

Raising our kids -
Step 1 was that I would not be a SAHP. It's much easier to choose a better method of discipline if I don't have to keep it up 24/7.
Step 2 was finding better role models. Every time I met kids that were well-behaved, I watched and talked to their parents, trying to learn what they knew. My SIL was (and still is) my ideal of good parenting.

I *like* my kids. We all have to love our kids; maybe it's biology - but liking them, spending time together and sharing each other's interests doesn't seem so common.

Everyone who knows my kids likes them. They're genuinely nice, good people. If the only thing I leave behind me after death is my two boys, I will have left the world a better place than I found it.

Posted by: Sue | September 11, 2007 1:49 PM | Report abuse

What kids are we talking about? Are you kidding, you think a 2 year old can avoid melting down because you flash him a look? Get a child development book and get real!

Just an observation: We drag kids to too many adult and public places, we subject them to long periods in the car, BORING and TORTUROUS activities. It is sooooo hard to behave in an environment not made for kids!

Expect age appropriate behavior and plan age appropriate activities. of course, you gotta make the trips to the store, doctor, and the occassional restaurant. Its okay to expect good manners, but be realistic.

I think most kids are great considering what we subject them to. Try to point out when they are using good manners. They shouldn't be voiceless or mannerless, but it is up to all of us to lead by example. Haven't you noticed the utter lack of civility among many adults, and the examples just increase for older children to be exposed to-- and not just on TV! Expect them to be respectful and point out when they are not -- but it is a two-way street. It doesn't mean that your kid is your friend (puhlease), but it may mean that he learns by example.

Posted by: Sluefoot | September 11, 2007 1:58 PM | Report abuse

Just an observation: We drag kids to too many adult and public places, we subject them to long periods in the car, BORING and TORTUROUS activities. It is sooooo hard to behave in an environment not made for kids!

Expect age appropriate behavior and plan age appropriate activities. of course, you gotta make the trips to the store, doctor, and the occassional restaurant. Its okay to expect good manners, but be realistic.

This is a good point. Some people at our church tried to tell my wife and others that small kids should attend service instead of sunday school. That is idiotic. A small child would be bored to DEATH in service and then would act up. Don't expect kids to do things that adults are capable of and then get mad when they don't.

Posted by: pATRICK | September 11, 2007 2:02 PM | Report abuse

Sue: we must have had the same parents????
Another thing I hated when growing up -- we'd visit each of the grandparents' homes every Sunday. Sometimes there were other relatives there at the same time -- aunts, uncles, cousins. What I hated was the adults would pick on the kids, tease us, ridicule us, make fake boxing jabs at us, laugh at us. I think because they were grown up, they could pick on anybody younger and smaller than they were, and we certainly could NOT fight back. (The whole frigging family is dysfunctional.) I grew up with a deep distrust/dislike of adults and a horror of being teased. It isn't always the parents who can ruin a kid's life. Extended family does a lot of it, too.

Posted by: Lurking for today... | September 11, 2007 2:03 PM | Report abuse

pATRICK

"I told my wife one day the time to impose authority is NOW, not when your kid is 6 foot 2 and 16 years old."

Sounds like (1) your wife is a real airhead and you are (2) a father-figure to your wife AND kids. Oy, what a mess!

Posted by: Timmie | September 11, 2007 2:05 PM | Report abuse

Sue and Old Faithful, you are parents after my own heart. You don't need praise from me (or anyone else) to know you're on the right track. Sounds like you've got great families and enjoy spending time together and that's the best reward there is.

Posted by: No fear | September 11, 2007 2:10 PM | Report abuse

TIMMIE, don't worry. you can come out of your timeout soon.

Posted by: pATRICK | September 11, 2007 2:14 PM | Report abuse

pATRICK

If the threat of a spanking keeps them from getting run over, then fine. Mayb that works for you and that is fine. My problem is I hear that running in to the street example too often to many parents don't limit their hitting to a "life threatening" situation. I know of and have heard of and have seen parents who have spanked theor kids because they wet their pants when they were 2 and being potty-trained; who have spanked their 3 year old because he would not eat all of his vegetables; who have smacked their 1 year old on the hand in a grocery store because they reach for the shiny candy at the checkout; who spank a 3 year old because they won't stop talking in the car. That's why I draw the line at no spanking at all...it is a slippery slope that I don't want to go down.

Posted by: HappyDad | September 11, 2007 2:15 PM | Report abuse

"TIMMIE, don't worry. you can come out of your timeout soon."

But you can NEVER stop being who you are...

Posted by: pATRICK | September 11, 2007 2:16 PM | Report abuse

Oh boy someone wants to impersonate me now. Timmie, put the laptop back and get ready for bed. Yawn

Posted by: pATRICK | September 11, 2007 2:22 PM | Report abuse

"Why you'd want to reduce it down to being "just friends" escapes me."

WorkingMomX, I think their are two sides of parenting. One side is where the parent is actively engaging their kids with play, conversation, and emotional support. The other side is where the parent uses their authority to direct their child in such a way as to give them the tools to make proper decisions so they can become contributing members of society.

OK, now your child brings home a bad grade. What to you do?

Some parents will just punish their kid by taking away priveledges such as phone, computer game, or whatever to motivate the kid to do better. Sometimes this is effective, but certainly not a garentee. And what if they fail again? More punishment to the point where they hate school? Then what?

I'm in the camp where I'll have them share their work with me, and discuss what they are doing, and offer strategies on how to boost their grade. Then, if they bring home another bad grade, I'll know why. It could be the teacher, or the subject material may be too difficult. At least I'll know, and I'll be able to further advise my child on a career path that will match their talents.


So, out of these 2 different styles of parenting...
1. Which do you think is the most effective?
2. Which is the most enjoyable?

All I'm saying here is that if you hold your child's hand as you walk down the sidewalk, you'll never have to spank them for running out into the street.

Posted by: ISquirtLikeOldFaithful | September 11, 2007 2:22 PM | Report abuse

Then, if they bring home another bad grade, I'll know why. It could be the teacher, or the subject material may be too difficult. At least I'll know, and I'll be able to further advise my child on a career path that will match their talents.


Or it could be your kid goofing off, sleeping in class etc. Strange how that angle never crossed your mind.......

Posted by: pATRICK | September 11, 2007 2:24 PM | Report abuse

Considering ISquirtLikeOldFaithful is Father of 4 I wouldn't go by his parenting advice. As usual its nuts and makes no sense.

Posted by: Origin | September 11, 2007 2:24 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: Origin | September 11, 2007 02:24 PM

I know ;)

Posted by: pATRICK | September 11, 2007 2:27 PM | Report abuse

"All I'm saying here is that if you hold your child's hand as you walk down the sidewalk, you'll never have to spank them for running out into the street."

Good in theory. But what happens when the kid bites your hand and runs after the ice cream truck? Time to discipline?

Posted by: Anonymous | September 11, 2007 2:29 PM | Report abuse

"I'm in the camp where I'll have them share their work with me, and discuss what they are doing, and offer strategies on how to boost their grade. Then, if they bring home another bad grade, I'll know why. It could be the teacher, or the subject material may be too difficult. At least I'll know, and I'll be able to further advise my child on a career path that will match their talents."

What an ego! How is your career path going?

Posted by: Potsie | September 11, 2007 2:29 PM | Report abuse

ISquirtLikeOldFaithfu

"OK, now your child brings home a bad grade. What to you do?"

My kids never brought home a bad grade. Make babies with a smarter person next time.

Posted by: Rachel | September 11, 2007 2:33 PM | Report abuse

"Friendship parenting?" I just peed my pants over that one. Come on... Enough already.

I wasn't my daughter's friend, I was her mother. Our relationship has grown over her 33 years, and we now have more of a friendship/mentor/mom relationship.

As a single mom, I encountered many challenges. I think there was one instance where I whacked her butt when she was eight. She'd just beaten a dead horse about something and my patience after a long day at work was shot. It served the purpose but I felt as though I'd lost control of the situation. No harm done - no trauma.

In talking to her over the years, she always tells me that her motivation for behaving and doing her best was because she feared disappointing me. No - that wasn't something I told her. For some reason - perhaps because I only asked her to do the best she could do and we'd leave it at that - perhaps that is what prompted her to strive to do the right thing, to do well in school, etc. She never wanted to disappoint me.

I gave her boundaries. Treated her with respect. Explained how I arrived at decisions relevant to her - I wanted her to see the logic and learn how to make good choices for herself. And there were times where "I can't give you a reason - I just FEEL this isn't the right thing to do" had to suffice. She was raised with manners. She was taught to respect adults, even if they seemed to not respect her. I praised her good works and traits and talked with her on how to improve what needed to be improved. I gave her honesty, consistency. She knew what was expected of her. Breaking the few rules I had carried consequences, e.g., no TV, no whatever.

I also had days where I felt I should've been a better mom. And days where I felt I'd done well.

Friends my ar$e. A home is not s democracy. You must parent. Your role is to safeguard your child, give them as solid a foundation of self esteem that you can based on REALITY, not blowing smoke up their arse over nonsense. You want to instill behavior and applaud attributes that will enable them to succeed/survive in the outside world. You can be supportive and not spoil children. Give them wings to soar when they leave you.

Posted by: Mom/grandmothers | September 11, 2007 2:41 PM | Report abuse

Old Faithful, you asked
"OK, now your child brings home a bad grade. What to you do?"

The answer is certainly more complex than the two options you've listed. I said early on today (in the 8:50 post with no name attached) that my job is to be the parent. As far as school is concerned, that means I have to supply them with the materials they need to succeed in school. That, to me, includes the following:
1 - providing them with my time and support. Demonstrating that success in school is important to me and that it's important to them, even if they don't understand it right now. Reviewing their school day with them, even if I'm out of town on a business trip. Helping them with their homework and studying. Pushing them in the right direction.
2 - providing them with the necessary tools. Books, paper, pencils, study aids, calculator, computer, all as appropriate for their age and level.
3 - providing them with additional resources as necessary - a tutor, for example.
4 - living in a district with good schools.
5 - Working with their teachers, counselors, and principal to make sure that we're all on the same page and have the same understanding about what the expectations and rules are.

The kids then have to do their job as kids, which is to grow up properly. That means having as much success in school as they can. They have to do all their homework. They have to study. They have to come ask for help if they don't understand something. They have to behave in class.

So, now, the child brings home a "bad grade". My response is:

1. Is this the best the child is capable of? If so, so be it. If not, why didn't the child perform to his abilities?
2. If the answer is because I didn't do my job as parent, I need to correct that. Maybe I didn't work with the school enough. Maybe I didn't understand the homework, so my explanations confused rather than reinforced.
3. If the answer is that my child did not do his job - he didn't study; he didn't ask for help when he didn't understand; he goofed off during the test itself - then yes, there will be punishment. You can call it "correction" or "punishment" or whatever term you like, but the child will be made to understand that he did not meet expectations, this is unacceptable, and it will not happen again.

And that's why I'm not the child's "friend". I'm in charge; I have the authority to make these decisions and my child will live by them. Yes, I can have fun with my kids. We can go to ball games or movies; we can play Monopoly or Life. We can read together or listen to music or watch TV together. But there's no, co-equal, 'friend' relationship there.

(My oldest is now in college, and the relationship is definitely changing. Perhaps when they're independent adults, on their own, the relationship can be more towards a friendship of equals. But not now.)

Does that help?

Posted by: Army Brat | September 11, 2007 2:45 PM | Report abuse

ISquirt, you're saying a child might bring home a bad grade because "It could be the teacher, or the subject material may be too difficult." I'm sorry, but you sound like a 14-year old. It's too hard! The teacher hates me and she doesn't explain! I hate math/science/english/blah blah blah. All of these may or may not be true to some extent, but there are plenty of times when a child needs to buckle down and take some responsibility.

It is much more enjoyable short-term to be your child's friend, but you aren't doing yourself or your child any favors if you take that route. Being a parent is hard sometimes, as are most things in life that are worthwhile experiences.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | September 11, 2007 2:48 PM | Report abuse

Army Brat

Make smart babies in the first place and you won't have so many problems with your kids getting bad grades.

Posted by: Rachel | September 11, 2007 2:48 PM | Report abuse

The saying in our house is "When you do good things, good things happen, when you do bad things, bad things happen, it's your choice" Pretty effective for a child to understand.

Posted by: pATRICK | September 11, 2007 2:54 PM | Report abuse

"The saying in our house is "When you do good things, good things happen, when you do bad things, bad things happen, it's your choice" Pretty effective for a child to understand."

Sheer GENIUS! Did it take both you and your wife to come up with this profound wisdom?

Posted by: Timmie | September 11, 2007 2:58 PM | Report abuse

Posted by Sluefoot @ September 11, 2007 01:58 PM

"What kids are we talking about? Are you kidding, you think a 2 year old can avoid melting down because you flash him a look? Get a child development book and get real!"

Which Child Development book are you thinking of when you say that?

Posted by: David S | September 11, 2007 2:58 PM | Report abuse

Rachel,

Being smart doesn't mean you won't get bad grades. Smart people still have to do the work and be motivated to study. I have children who have earned full academic scholarships to college, not just because they are smart, but because they were will to take hard classes; AP, honors, etc, and still get good grades. I have seem lots of very smart people fail out of high school programs that expect them to work, colleges that expect them to attend classes, and have very boring dead end jobs. Smart does not equal good grades.

Posted by: Sparks | September 11, 2007 2:59 PM | Report abuse

"Timmie" is still bitter about his timeout. or should I say BB668? so easy to spot, it's laughable.

Posted by: pATRICK | September 11, 2007 3:00 PM | Report abuse

pATRICK

"My son and daughter will have many friends in life, I am the only father they will ever have."

Those poor kids. You will repeat your father's failures, as a husband, a father, and a man.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 11, 2007 3:09 PM | Report abuse

pATRICK

then how do you explain when you do good things and bad things still happen? Which as we all know happens all the time.

Posted by: HappyDad | September 11, 2007 3:09 PM | Report abuse

Happydad, that is pertaining to thier behavior. It holds pretty much true in all things. Study hard=better grades. Do chores= get privileges etc.

Posted by: pATRICK | September 11, 2007 3:12 PM | Report abuse

Smart does not always equal being a good person, either. I work with a lot of professionals with advanced degrees and you can't find a more miserable bunch of human specimens anywhere. Arrogant, self-important, haughty, spoiled, critical of everybody. One of our partners can't find his away across the street by himself. Another can't do anything but eat and pee by herself, expects her assistant to do everything for her. Hmmmm, a lot like bloggers on the WaPo, don't you think?

Posted by: Anonymous | September 11, 2007 3:15 PM | Report abuse

It's a good thing that ISquirt is busy being a friend to his kids since they certainly won't learn spelling and grammar from him.

Sorry, you hit about every single one of this writer's pet peeves with your last post....

Posted by: JennyK | September 11, 2007 3:16 PM | Report abuse

CD -- Not sure if this has been mentioned, but have you tried Harvey Karp's "Happiest Toddler on the Block?" It has been VERY helpful to us -- especially the part about toddlers wanting to be heard & his language technique that helps.

I too am a believer in enforcing boundaries and guidelines. But, I am also a believer in positive encouragement and mutual respect. So far, it is working well for us. (When the Sun. School teacher tells you you are the luckiest mom in the world, something must be working right! I agree w/ her, too). While I am friends w/ my daughters, I'm always their parent first.

Posted by: Gretchen | September 11, 2007 3:19 PM | Report abuse

sparks

"Being smart doesn't mean you won't get bad grades. Smart people still have to do the work and be motivated to study"


Some people DONT need to do much work or study to get the highest grades. That's where DNA comes in.

Posted by: Rachel | September 11, 2007 3:25 PM | Report abuse

pAtrick

Happydad, that is pertaining to thier behavior. It holds pretty much true in all things. Study hard=better grades. Do chores= get privileges etc.

But I am curious...what do you tell them when study hard does bot = good grades. i.e. they eork real hard and stillget a D on a test or paper. then the axiom does not hold true.

Posted by: HappyDad | September 11, 2007 3:31 PM | Report abuse

happydad, frankly i don't believe that when people work hard at something they get a D. Life is not full of guarantees but general truths do hold, work hard and good things will happen more often than not.

Posted by: pATRICK | September 11, 2007 3:37 PM | Report abuse

pATRICK

I do agree with you to some degree, but i do know many people who work and study hard and just got mediocre grades for a myriad of reasons. And I also know kids who slack and don't study hard because of their ability to take tests, their innate intelligence etc. Obviously we both want to teach our kids to work hard, i just don't think painting everything with a broad brush always works.

Posted by: HappyDad | September 11, 2007 3:41 PM | Report abuse

"Shows you the depths of his lowlifeness that he would post something like this about an elderly man. "

Some of your posts have been equally classy. I'm compiling a long, long list. You were a fool to reveal personal details to an audience that widely disliked you, Goober.

Posted by: hillary1 | September 11, 2007 3:42 PM | Report abuse

Army Brat, you just said pretty much what I was going to say to ISquirtLikeOldFaithful, so thanks. You are absolutely right. You can be friendly with your child, have fun, etc., but you are not the child's friend--you are in charge and have the responsibility to raise your child to be an independent, functioning, self-secure adult who can deal with life's problems without collapsing when things do not go the way they want them to go. It's a tough job, and that's what parents are supposed to do.

Our sons are now in their mid- to late twenties (one with a two-year-old daughter) and now we really are friends. It's very satisfying, I must say. We did the difficult work when they were very small (no, no abuse or harsh behavior--just routines, limits, good food and plenty of rest, etc.) and reaped the benefits later. We certainly were friendly (most of the time), and we all enjoyed each other. However, our boys knew that they had friends and they had parents, and they definitely knew the difference.

What bothers me is that instead of adults in a child's life adjusting to the child's needs, people in today's society seem to have decided that children, even very small ones, are just adults in smaller bodies. I see children out at a store at ten o'clock in the evening, sometimes even later than that. What on earth is a child who is a toddler or in elementary school doing out that late? Children need lots of sleep in order to function well and be healthy. If I were a child needing 10 to 12 hours of sleep a night and wasn't getting that, I'd be a brat or throw tantrums too.

A child needs nutritious meals and snacks, naps as appropriate when younger, and regular and earlier bedtimes than would be appropriate for an adolescent or an adult. Children are often taken to entertainment venues that are more adult-oriented and I wonder what the parents are thinking when they do that. Children may not understand all of what they see or hear, but it affects them regardless, and not necessarily in a good way.

People who decide to have children should decide to be parents first and foremost, and put the child's needs first. Children need routines, discipline, order, security, healthy food, plenty of sleep, and parents who are willing and able to give them all of that. These parents should provide their children with examples of good and respectful behavior and should expect the same in return--as the child is able to give due to age. Consistency is the answer. It also enables the parent and child to have a friendly and respectful relationship.

ISquirtLikeOldFaithful, I think I understand what you mean when you say you are friends with your child(ren). I hope that you mean that you have a friendly manner with them, but that when it is necessary you will take the leadership position rather than a co-equal position. It is better for your child in the long run.

Posted by: Lynne | September 11, 2007 3:53 PM | Report abuse

Hillary, keep compiling or whatever. This is merely a blog. You are just an anon troll who was forced to make up a name in order to keep posting.

Posted by: pATRICK | September 11, 2007 4:00 PM | Report abuse

"You are just an anon troll who was forced to make up a name in order to keep posting.:"

Duh, no. You don't need to register/make up a name on THIS blog!!!

Posted by: hillary1 | September 11, 2007 4:17 PM | Report abuse

Hillary is nuts. Stop feeding her/him and maybe it will go away.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 11, 2007 4:22 PM | Report abuse

Lynn, you wrote, "It also enables the parent and child to have a friendly and respectful relationship."

Exactly, I prefer the above style much more than "scared and obedient."

Posted by: ISquirtLikeOldFaithful | September 11, 2007 4:32 PM | Report abuse

ISquirtLikeOldFaithful, yes, that is what I mean. If you are friendly rather than scary, that's good. The word "friend" seems to equate to being on equal footing, and a parent is always above a child in the hierarchy, so to speak. That does not mean that the parent has to be scary and thus intimidate the child into obedience. However, the child needs to understand that the parent, no matter how friendly, is the one "in charge" and is someone who must be obeyed when the occasion calls for it. There are times when obedience is desired, such as when you are out in public and a child is misbehaving. The parent needs to be able to indicate to the child that this is not acceptable and must stop or there are consequences that might not be welcome. Then you must follow through, or you lose credibility and thus lose respect. There are times when life or death hangs in the balance (the child running into the street scenario, but there are even worse cases to cite) and the child has to understand that he/she must obey--obedience is not an option or there are dire consequences. One does not have to screech or beat a child in order for the child to understand in either case, or in fact to understand the difference between them. I swatted my not-quite two-year-old (one swat on the diaper) when, instead of stopping on the sidewalk when I said to wait, ran across the street to our neighbor. If he had been eight years old and disobeyed me when I asked him to wait, he would have lost a privilege. Different ages call for different means. In both cases it is done in love, not violence. He was never scared of me--frustrated with me is another matter. :)

Posted by: Lynne | September 11, 2007 4:56 PM | Report abuse

"Army Brat Make smart babies in the first place and you won't have so many problems with your kids getting bad grades."

Are you offering, Rachel? :-)

"Some people DONT need to do much work or study to get the highest grades. That's where DNA comes in."

True. That worked for me up until grad school. First semester of grad school was a biyotch, I can tell you that.

A good part of that was that I was never really challenged before that. I went to schools that didn't have anything like GT or AP classes, so I mostly sat in the back of the room, bored. My mother taught at the school I attended; the other teachers would tell her I was bored and not doing anything, but since I had a 4.0 average, what could they do?

I was actually pleased that I had to start working hard in grad school, because it made a natural transition to the work force after graduation. I could see that the people with the best combination of brains and work ethic got ahead, even as a Fed. :-)

(And as for my own kids, don't worry. One got an excellent academic scholarship to a very good college, where she's currently excelling. The next one would have been a National Merit Scholarship semifinalist based on his PSAT, except the score doesn't count if you're below Junior year. The younger two have never been off the honor roll in their lives. We're doing fine - not that I'm bragging or anything. :-)


Posted by: Army Brat | September 11, 2007 5:15 PM | Report abuse

Army Brat: We're doing fine - not that I'm bragging or anything. :-)

Go ahead and brag a bit! You're doing fine, the kids are a credit to their parents, so what's not to brag about? It's not as if you are on here every day saying how wonderfully perfect they are in every way and that everyone else has defective kids. :)

The ones that get me are the ones who compete with other parents--"My kid got an A; how did your kid do? Only a B+? Oh, well, that's all right. I'm sure you are proud of her anyway." "Johnny was toilet trained at 9 months! Why isn't Billy already trained when he's 18 months old?" "Our Sarah slept through the night from day one. Oh, and she has had wonderful table manners ever since she started using a spoon." Gaaah!


Posted by: Lynne | September 11, 2007 5:45 PM | Report abuse

"Step 1 was that I would not be a SAHP. It's much easier to choose a better method of discipline if I don't have to keep it up 24/7.
......
I *like* my kids. We all have to love our kids; maybe it's biology - but liking them, spending time together and sharing each other's interests doesn't seem so common."

Wow Sue, you like your kids SO MUCH that you can't stand to be around them all day. And way to commit to something (discipline) - "I'll do this, but only part-time."


Posted by: Anonymous | September 11, 2007 6:58 PM | Report abuse

"I see children out at a store at ten o'clock in the evening, sometimes even later than that. What on earth is a child who is a toddler or in elementary school doing out that late? Children need lots of sleep in order to function well and be healthy. If I were a child needing 10 to 12 hours of sleep a night and wasn't getting that, I'd be a brat or throw tantrums too. A child needs nutritious meals and snacks, naps as appropriate when younger, and regular and earlier bedtimes than would be appropriate for an adolescent or an adult."

Oh here we go again - the bedtime patrol.

First of all, you don't know that those children you see out in stores at 10:00 aren't getting 10 hours of sleep. Maybe they're children of SAHMs and they sleep until 9:00 every morning because they don't have to be hauled off to daycare. Maybe they're homeschooled and don't get drug out of bed for school every morning at 7:00.

And second of all, maybe, just maybe, it's really none of your business. You don't know that the 8 year old you see NEEDS 10-12 hours of sleep - you're just basing that on what the "experts" have told you and what you think is the right way to raise children. You're passing judgment on people you don't know.

Posted by: Troll | September 11, 2007 7:05 PM | Report abuse

I think part of the problem here is that people see that you can either be a) your child's "friend" or b) an authoritarian dictator. It really shouldn't be either. There is no relationship in the world the same as the one a parent has with a child. It is deep and complex and has many sides to it. When we are playing together, my DD is my friend. When it's time to teach her something new, I'm her mentor. When she's really toeing the line, I'm the enforcer. It's silly to try to boil the parent/child relationship down to a single discriptor. It's just much too complex- and it should be.

I hope that as my DD continues to grow I will continue to be her friend. But I will never be *just* her friend.

Posted by: reston, va | September 12, 2007 1:04 PM | Report abuse

Wow Sue, you like your kids SO MUCH that you can't stand to be around them all day. And way to commit to something (discipline) - "I'll do this, but only part-time."

Posted by: | September 11, 2007 06:58 PM

Well, you're obviously not a regular around here. Most of them seem to have heard enough times to remember - DH is the SAHP. We both felt that it was very important for our children to have that, and we decided it would be him, not me, before we were married.

But I suppose that you'd also slam DH for recognizing his limitations in child-rearing. For example, if I'd told the story of how he stopped helping older son with his math homework after 4th grade. DH stopped attending school after 4th grade and doesn't understand much math. Then DH's math-anxiety would kick in, and the kid was ending up with an over-emotional parent freaking him out, and starting to develop his own math anxiety.

But hey, asking me to do what I'm good at (the math homework help - after I'm home from my daily role as the family breadwinner) would be just as bad as asking DH to do what he's good at. DH was a house-parent in a group home for emotionally - excuse me - severely emotionally disturbed adolescents before we met. He's wa-a-a-ay better at the parenting thing than I am. And judging by the results - our kids - we made the right decision.

Posted by: Sue | September 12, 2007 5:14 PM | Report abuse

When my now 30 year old son would need discipline as a middle schooler, I remember saying to him "You need to learn these lessons. The worse thing in life would be for you to grown up to be a person without character, someone I won't like". It was more important to me that as an adult I would chose him for a friend rather than be his friend at 13. Fortunately, he is an honorable man, an officer and a gentleman.

Posted by: grammy | September 17, 2007 1:44 PM | Report abuse

I am not a parent, but I have observed many children and parents in public. Many parents are doing a poor job of teaching their children how to behave in the public arena. One sees ill-mannered children in restaurants, stores, buses, and subways. The poor parenting seems to cross race and class lines.

Meanwhile, many of these same parents demand flawless behavior from clerks, waiters, and subordinates at work. They cut very little slack from others if they make mistakes. Yet, these parents tolerate poor behavior from their children.

Posted by: Jeff | September 20, 2007 12:23 PM | Report abuse

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