(originally published February 12, 2009)
Why am I not surprised when callers complain about the lack of respect their children display? Simple. Way too many parents never take on a leadership role in the first place. It is profoundly sad to me when I give some direction to a parent which requires them to draw a line in the sand and I hear back, "But my son/daughter will get mad or pout."
A recent caller wanted to know how to handle her 16-year-old daughter who wanted to bring a boyfriend with her on a family cruise. I told her to tell her daughter that this was completely inappropriate and she could go on a cruise with him when they were married adults.
The mother just sucked in her breath and sighed in pain because, "She will just make our lives miserable." Well, we now know how this parent runs her home: she gives the kid(s) whatever will keep them from needing to be actually parented. And, without proper parenting, these children grow up into out-of- control, disrespectful, entitlement-demanding, self-centered unhappy adults.
Here is a letter from one mother who "gets it":
Hi Dr. Laura:
I just listened in amazement to the call from the mom who was afraid to tell her teenage daughter that the daughter's boyfriend could not come on a cruise with the family. Mom was afraid her daughter would pout. We have a teen daughter who would never dream of asking for a boyfriend to come on a trip with the family let alone pout if we said no. It's because as my husband smilingly tells the kids, we subscribe to the Reagan doctrine when it comes to child rearing: peace through strength.
Amen to that.