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

Wednesday, January 27, 2016


By Domenick J. Maglio PhD. Traditional Realist

It is common for children to correct their parents at every opportunity. In our modern culture children are exposed in the mass media especially on television where advertisements of youngsters cleverly push the envelope of parental rules.

In one commercial an infant with the aid of his dog is somehow able to rig up a pulley system to get the bread off the top of the refrigerator while the mother looks stunned. This mother is unable to prevent even her infant son from getting the food she does not want him to have. The child is outsmarting his parent. The GEICO Peter Pan commercial emphasizes youth getting away with saying socially inappropriate things to adults. The adult always looks stupid and the child smart. This subliminal message has been communicated to the masses by the media for decades.

This propaganda has taken root in the American psyche, foremost with parents. Today’s parents see their children as so “smart and cute.” They permit their children to say outrageous, negative things about them. There are no verbal or physical reprimands to the offensive statements. These negative remarks and behavior are overlooked by the adult but not by the child.  These unchallenged comments paint a pathetic picture of parents in the child’s mind.

When a child puts down his parents for whatever reason, his future becomes a little more bleak. The youngster is underscoring a behavior that increases the probability that he would repeat it. Often this mass media exposure is so powerful that the child believes his “put down” behavior is necessary to be seen as cool. Instead of role modeling his parent’s positive behavior the child does the opposite. Disrespecting of parents confuses the youngster as to what direction to go to define his personality as he matures. The child begins to unconsciously resist all of his parent’s advice and life style, which leads to alienating other authority figures. This disrespecting eventually results in the child not liking himself.

Moreover, the uncertainty of his parent’s ability to guide and protect him and the fog of defining oneself is disconcerting. The youngster’s self-evaluation becomes an ordeal. This is the period the youngster begins to evaluate himself. The most influential people in his young life are the parents, both for the intensity of their intimate interactions and their undisputable genetic traits that were transmitted to him. If the youngster views his parents as ignorant losers all the knowledge they attempt to share with him is discarded. This makes his adolescence a more difficult stage then it should be.

Like it or not his parents initiated and guided his life up to this period. The youngster now has the choice and responsibility to take over the process to define himself. Every time he disrespects his parents without any resistance it tacitly shows his parents are weak. A person who views his parents as weak, or worse as worthless, starts life off in a poor position to become proud of himself. He has either suffered the realization that he is an ungrateful, self-centered brat or these parents were indeed dysfunctional failures. In either case his nasty behavior to his parents did not help him learn to be a better person.

Often these parents do not want to imitate their own parent’s take-charge behavior. They remember how they felt when they were reprimanded rather than acknowledge an important lesson learned. The momentary pain experienced was minor compared to one’s character development, which they overlooked or never realized. Short-term pain for long-term gain eludes many parents.

By being a good, obedient child, he would have developed good habits and skills no matter how useless his parents appear to be. Being nasty and rebellious towards them would only reinforce his worse traits. From then on he would own those disrespectful behaviors that would translate into his not being able to respect himself.

Many decent and loving parents produce defiant children. Besides the embarrassment the parents have to endure, the main concern should be their child’s bleak future. A child’s misbehavior will get him into trouble with other authority figures.  The youngster’s snarky attitude and offensive actions to teachers, extra curricular instructors, the police and any other adults can escalate many situations into crises. These other significant people will define him as troubled, nasty, anti social or worse a potential danger.

Being disrespectful to any authority often leads to confrontation. When the authority is evil it is a sign of inspirational courage to defy them. When the disrespect is directed at weak, ineffectual, loving parents it is a mean and harmful act. The same holds true when disrespectful behavior is directed at an honorable and helpful authority figure such as a principal, judge or police officer. These powerful figure’s actions can result in the youngsters placement in a psychiatric program or incarceration. The disrespect says more about the person being the disrespectful one rather than the one being mistreated.

Not only does the disrespect hurt the people who gave him life but self-defines him as a self-centered abuser of others.  Being disrespectful to decent parents and others is a self-destructive act that has no long-term positive outcome.

Self-respect starts with being grateful for what a person has. All people are imperfect thus are all parents. Disrespecting of others is the surest way not to be able to respect oneself.

Domenick Maglio, PhD. is a columnist carried by various newspapers, an author of several books and owner/director of Wider Horizons School, a college prep program. You can visit Dr. Maglio at

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