Thursday, June 4, 2009

Top Ten Behaviors that Parents in Charge Never Tolerate

by Dr. Dathan Paterno

Parents in Charge is the term I use for those parents who are in control of their families without being too controlling. Of course, Parents in Charge do not have perfect children. Their children can be ridiculous and foolish just as any other children can. However, Parents in Charge do not tolerate such behavior. They expect their children to exhibit superb behavior and reinforce them when they behave well. When their cherubs choose to misbehave, they enforce consequences that make them wish they had behaved better.

The following is a list of behaviors I see many parents tolerating that simply should not be.

1. Parents in Charge do not allow their children to order them in any way: not about meals, not about wheels, not about stations, not about vacations. They will not boss them here or there; they will not boss them anywhere!

2. Children who have Parents in Charge do not Answer Shop (e.g., appeal to Dad when Mom has said “no”), because they know this will not be tolerated.

3. Parents in Charge do not tolerate eye-rolling, arm-folding, stomping, door-slamming, or any looks that suggest they are from another planet, especially when establishing limits or bestowing one of their many invaluable pearls of wisdom.

4. Parents in Charge do not tolerate children whispering “whatever” or speaking anything under their breath to or about them.

5. Parents in Charge do not sustain their child’s whining, nagging, or even adorable begging in order to get things that can be gotten with “Please, may I…” Parents in Charge can spot and dodge even the best brown-nosing maneuvers.

6. Insulting a Parent in Charge never pays because Parents in Charge never tolerate their child calling them “retarded”, “lame”, or “backward” (even though all parents slip into one of these from time to time).

7. Parents in Charge do not suffer complaints of boredom. They respond to such complaints by saying, “Only boring people get bored. Interesting people find or create something to do. If you would like my guidance, I have a fantastic list of chores that could keep you occupied for hours. Would you…hey, where are you going?!”

8. In restaurants, Parents in Charge do not tolerate obnoxious behavior. If their child acts out, they take him outside or to the bathroom, establish the seriousness of the expectations, give him an attitude adjustment if necessary, and assure him that if he acts out again, he will be eating wheat bread and broccoli when he gets home. Parents in Charge follow through with this.

9. Parents in Charge never tolerate other children misbehaving in their home without consequence. Rather, a Parent in Charge asserts his sovereignty gently but firmly, confronting any misbehavior and removing the child from the home if necessary. Afterwards, the parent communicates very clearly to that child’s parents what occurred and which behaviors will not be tolerated in their home. Finally, the Parent in Charge extends an open invitation for the child to return to the home if the child can respect the family’s limits and boundaries.

10. Finally, Parents in Charge witness no positive behavior from their children without acknowledging, appreciating, praising, respecting, and expressing gratitude for it. Parents in Charge know their children crave their love, acceptance, attention, and approval and waste no opportunity to dole it out.


  1. Let me be the first to say! YES!

    I think this list should be handled out at EVERY HOSPITAL, Kindergarten, Middle School, and High School. Sadly since some parents allow all of the above, perhaps this list should be handed out when the adult children are 30 as well!


  2. Hey Dr. Paterno, this top ten list is fantastic. It is amazing how much parents can control their child's behavior. I used to volunteer at a day care and say the marked difference between parents that followed the guidelines you outline here and the ones that let their kids walk all over them. You can post this to our site and link back to your site. We are trying to create a directory for top ten lists where people can find your site. The coolest feature is you can let other people vote on the rankings of your list.

  3. Well worded! It's nice to know that there are other people in the world who are trying to do the same thing. I have a 2 1/2 yr old son, and it is a never ending battle. I sometimes get lazy, but then I definitely pay for it later! Not only does it need to be posted at the aforementioned locations, it needs to be gone over explicitly during childbirth education and ECFE classes.

  4. Thank God. I have such an issue with the Positive Discipline technique that is being taught these days. It seems to be a lot of tolerating bad behavior and permissiveness. Thank you for writing about common sense parenting!

  5. Thank you for this list. My frustration is that it seems this new generation of parents do not accept this form of parenting gracefully. They think I am parenting their child. Which perhaps I may be since they do not seem to be doing it themselves. I am grateful to have found this site and will work to improve on a few of them myself.

  6. Yes, theoretically, this all sounds good. However, short of beating a child, a child who says, "you can't make me!" and is too big for me to carry to her room, is very difficult to deal with. She receives consequences, but they definitely do not have an impact on her behavior. My older daughter does not challenge me this way. So, as I said, it all sounds good theoretically, but it also sounds rather like the advice is coming from a smug parent or someone who's never had a very challenging child.

  7. I agree with all of the above, however praising a child who knows the rules each & every time insults their intelligence.

    I have expectations therefore I do not praise little Billy for peeing in the toilet & not on the wall. I expect that as young Master Billy knows how to toilet himself properly & choices not to do so.

    There needs to be expectations. All this praising & acknowledgment will not teach my children self esteem ~ they will need to be praised for each & every accomplishment no matter how small.

  8. I agree wholeheartedly that praising children for behaviors that they have already mastered is silly and insulting. My emphasis is on behaviors that have yet to be mastered. I don't praise my 11-year-old for making her bed sufficiently, while I do praise my 6-year-old for these efforts.