Southwestern Indiana's Catholic Community Newspaper

Don't Be A 'push-over Parent'

By By Donna Wolter, LCSW

Please don’t be a “Push Over Parent!”

Research shows us that even though our children may never admit that our opinion matters to them, it does! As parents, we are their role models and are responsible for their well-being. Our job is to give them guidance and support. Without guidance, our children are more apt to make poor choices. These poor choices could have effects on the rest of their lives – as well as ours. It is a fact that the rational part of the brain is not fully developed until we reach our mid-20s. We need to demonstrate healthy decision making to our children during these critical impressionable years.

Why are so many parents reluctant to impose rules, responsibilities and limits on their children? There are plenty of reasons – but few are valid. Here are the top five I hear most in my work with families:

1) “I will crush my child’s spirit, creativity and self-esteem.” Children not only need limits, they want them. Limits make the world a predictable and safe place. Creativity does not mean doing whatever you want. Maturity and healthy self-image develop from mastering a skill.

2) “I cannot bear to see my child unhappy.” A child who never experiences adversity or disappointment will be ill-equipped to deal with life’s challenges.

3) “I have enough money to buy the things my child wants. Why should I say no?” When parents grant a child’s every wish, the child will grow up with a skewed sense of entitlement and an inability to delay gratification. Learning to work for what you have is one of the greatest gifts a parent can give a child.  It will serve them throughout their lives and teach them to appreciate the things they do have. 

4) “I do not want to be a tyrant like my mother or father.”Maybe being too permissive is tyranny of a different kind. Your child needs a parent, not a friend. Not only are we responsible for guiding our children in these early years, but teaching them to be adults in their adolescent years is an important task as well.  Kids need to understand that there are limits and boundaries in every aspect of our lives. 

5) “My child will not love me.” Do you honestly believe your child’s feelings for you are so fragile the he or she will not tolerate a request to clear the table?

The Washington Post conducted a study with 4,700 students. The findings of its study revealed that kids really do watch and listen to their parents every move. Children’s poor choices related to drinking alcohol and taking drugs trace back to their parents habits of substance use or their inability to set clear rules and expectations around things such as curfew, grades, and general behavior. We as parents need to set good examples for our children so they can grow up to be responsible, well-adjusted adults. So … please don’t be a “Push Over Parent!”


Wolter serves as Youth First Social Worker at St. Benedict Cathedral School and Holy Rosary School.