04/09/2014 10:50 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Who's in Charge? Are You a Wimpy Parent?

Do you let your children boss you around? (Do they say things like "Where's my breakfast?")

Do you make excuses for your children? ("She would have said 'Thank you,' but she was too busy playing.")

Are you afraid your child won't love you if you say "No"?

Have you ever let your child tell you to "Shut up" without consequence?

Are you worried about whether or not your children "like" you? (and I don't mean on Facebook.)


Wimpy Parenting is actually quite common, which is one of the reasons I wrote my book, Raising Children That Other People Like to be Around. I know that some of you may object to my use of the word "wimpy," but, let's face it, you know what I mean. Besides, I grew up when sticks and stones could break my bones but words could never hurt me -- so I encourage you to not be distracted by my language and hear the message.

Today, parenting has become a "profession," and as a result, has become the focus of great examination and angst. Sure, people always worried about their children, their health, their happiness and their comfort, but today's kids are coddled in ways that shortchange our children and teach them dependence rather than independence. When I was young and bored, it was not my parent's responsibility to entertain me. In fact, my mom used to say, "Go bang your head against the wall until you can think of something to do." Pretty concise, don't you think?

I believe in simplification. The more "power" we give our children, the more complicated our lives become. If every decision requires a consultation, like, "Do you want to go to school?" or, "Is it OK if Mommy and Daddy go out tonight?' we are really complicating our lives.


It's up to our children to fit into our lives -- not the other way around.

Yes, having children changes many things, but those are things that we as parents change voluntarily, like no more sleeping late (gotta coach the team), no more swearing (the echo machine is in the room), no more wild parties (that one's self explanatory), etc.

Ultimately, it's our job as parents to lead, and it's our children's job to follow.

Being a Wimpy Parent takes its toll on you. You can't make plans. You can't go to restaurants. You can't live your life because your child or children dominate it -- and what kind of life is that?

The most ironic thing about being a Wimpy Parent is that children want us to be in control. They are not equipped to have the responsibility that we give them by letting them be our boss. It's just not fair -- they have far less life experience than we do and they are much more comfortable being led than they are being asked to make decisions.

Just try it.

Have the confidence to take control. Team up with your mate, or parenting partner, or best friends, or whomever it takes to give you strength and start making decisions for your children. Depending on their age, they'll most likely resist a little, but if you stand firm you'll find that a lot of the "noise" in your life disappears -- and suddenly you have a peaceful home.


I've said many times that it's "easier to lighten up than it is to tighten up," which means that your children can EARN greater decision making responsibility as time goes on, but being a pushover from the very beginning is no way to run a family.

Trust me.

Children are not as fragile as we might think. They live through the curveballs with which we present them. They change schools, they make new friends, their feelings get hurt and yet they learn to love music, they laugh at funny things and they love their moms and dads.

The process is designed to succeed.

Which brings us back to simplification. We had four simple rules with our kids:

Be truthful.
Be respectful.
Be generous.
Be kind.

Concentrate on teaching your children those values and they will most likely become people that other people like to be around.