Articles are available for reprint as long as the author is acknowledged: Domenick J. Maglio Ph.D.

Thursday, February 07, 2013


by Domenick J. Maglio, PhD, Traditional Realist

Too many modern children are in charge of the family. Parents defer to their child for decisions  even though their child does not possess the knowledge or experience to make a rational decision. Power is given to children without their having to earn it. They are given privileges although the accompanying responsibilities are not required.

In our modern culture children demand certain foods, clothing or entertainment as if they deserve it all. Parents even ask their children to make major family decisions. A preschool child is often asked which car, appliance or school they like better. The act of pretending to give one's child the power to make important decisions warps the child's self-perceptions of his position in the family. These false decisions are confusing to the child's concept of his maturity and his status in the family and community.

Fathers have been removed as the head of most American families. Forty percent of children are born out of wedlock. In addition to the divorce rate going beyond 50%, 40% of the babies being born are out of wedlock. On top of this, many parents are both working long hours or are even out-of-town for most of the week. Children do not spend sufficient time with either parent to learn the fine line of how far they can push authority figure’s limits.

Today's parents, including the father, have been indoctrinated to believe that if you give children commands you are retarding their ability to become independent people. Parents are supposed to teach their offspring by pretending the child is able to make responsible choices. When the child makes a decision that the parent would have made, the child is praised. If the child's decision is inappropriate the parents hide behind double talk to excuse them from not complying with the child's wishes. The child’s confusion often ignites his anger.

These parental games are harmful to both the child and the parents. The child feels cheated when he does not get his way while the parent becomes frustrated that they are being dishonest about the child’s decision-making power. It is a lose-lose game for both.

Parent’s guilt of not being full time parents nudges them into being friends rather than trainers of their children. Playing with and appeasing their children has become foremost in peer judgment of their role as parents. Directive and commanding fathers are dinosaurs that are not only constantly the butt of jokes in the media but are shunned as unenlightened.  Most modern wives view a strong father approach as offensive to women's equality. Men are no longer supposed to be strong heads of the family.

An ideal modern father should be as nurturing and sensitive as his female counterpart. However, by nature he is not. This places a modern man in a double bind. When he is trying to be more compassionate than his wife in dealing with the children's misbehavior, he has to bite his tongue and overlook the obvious. If he puts his foot down, not only does the child get momentarily angry but his wife will resent his rigid response. He will be reprimanded by receiving a “cold shoulder.” Hence it is easiest and more satisfactory for him to just agree or out-do his wife's tolerance of the child's outrageous actions.

The transformation of fathers from being the head of the household to an acquieser has been a major cause of children walking on the “wild side.” The plague of out-of-control children is directly attributed to a lack of fathers being the men in the family. The man who is not concerned about being liked or even feared but is involved with his family is the person who can do the job of keeping his children on the straight and narrow.

With a heavy dose of respect and a proper amount of fear for the father’s power, most children will internalize limits. These limits enable a youngster to resist temptation. Often, not participating in risky behavior is a major component of reaching old age and financial success.

Fathers should reevaluate their role in their families. They should insist that it is their responsibility to teach the children to listen to their mother, other deserving adults and him.  He needs to explain to his wife that he will be the man in the family. He will be the enforcer when either of them “draws a line in the sand’ that is crossed by the child.

It is not up to the man to capitulate to the child even when he may lose immediate favor with his more protective wife. Instead he needs to rationally communicate, not blow up but explain to her that parents need to be united to keep the child in check. United parents can more effectively parent when the mother plays the role of the woman and the father is the man who will not accept a child’s sassy behavior.

A reasonable child that readily listens to his parents’ loving directions is inoculated against becoming one of the hoards of out-of-control children.

Dr. Maglio is an author and owner/director of Wider Horizons School, a college prep program. You can visit Dr. Maglio at


Post a Comment

<< Home