Do the Kids Rule?

Posted by Brett Williams on the TCS List on Wed, 4 Apr., 2001.

Someone asked whether to outsiders (such as strangers and extended family members),

TCS looks as though kids are ruling the house.

Outsiders see what they want to see.

What do you say to statistics that claim that if you start letting toddlers rule the family, they'll still be ruling when they're teenagers?

Well, duh. So what?

(The point of TCS of course is not to have the children “rule” the parents – but it is unavoidable that that is how it will be seen from the worldview of an authoritarian society. To an authoritarian worldview, the question is not “is there an authority in this situation” but “who is the authority in this situation.” In any situation where there is no authority, one will be invented or imagined.)


Kids ruling

You msy not want the responsibility of ruling your kids, but it's not right to put that on your kids. They need their parents to be parents not friends. You need to grow up and treat kids like kids.

It sounds impossible, but...

Kids need their parents to be parents and friends. They should be treated like kids and human beings. With brains.

Pie-in-the-sky nonsense? No; possible, good and something for all of us to aspire to achieving.

No one rules. That doesn't m...

No one rules. That doesn't mean forcing kids to take authority/responsibility that they don't want and aren't ready for.

It does mean not forcing them to submit to parent's authority. Realizing that everyone has authority, over themselves, and in some areas, and at different times a family may choose to follow different members, adult or child, based on the people & circumstances involved.

Unruly Teen

Today my husband kicked our 16yr old son out of the house, he lies, steals, is violent, does and deals drugs, and quite frankly we just cant take it anymore!! he has been in and out of jail or should I say the juvenile detention center more times than I can count! he has been in boot camp and everything else counseling, you name it! counseling is for the birds! doesent work!

I realize that we could have some legal repurcussions for kicking him out because he is still a minor, but I mean what else can you do with him? he also shows NO remorse for his actions.

Any suggestions? if so write to me at:

Leave them alone

Kids need to either be left alone, or the parents should be letting the kids like them on the kids terms. Vilolence is not the answer, nor the question. We need to talk to our kids and get the kids to do whatever the hell they want asl long as no cops show up at the door. Kids don't rule but they just want to be liked on their own terms, not the parents way

Authority? How about learnin

Authority? How about learning self control and leaving it that? That's enough work for adults -let alone children. This is something I've thought a lot about. Steer me if I'm wrong. Recognizing authority sounds good, but as a life skill I personally have had "trouble" in the area. Am I the only one or have "who's the boss" and "who's in charge" been questions that baffled others? If and when I learn self-control, recognizing true authority (which is seldom self-appointed) is something I aspire to do one day. Wish me luck!



yes i see what ur saying why do people think vilolence is related to viedo games?

Here's what I think...

Unfortunately, my mom wouldn't care what I said about this issue. I'm afraid to say that my mother is narrow minded. But you guys may at least be open to listen, regardless of whether or not you agree does not matter to me.

Though kids need to be taught that the parents are the ones who run the house and make many of the decisions, one of the things I want for parents to allow their kids to have is THEIR SAY. The usual "nope, nope, nope, this is how it goes, end of discussion", all the while slapping them and telling them to shut up until they submit is certainly not an effective way to parent your children (especially when they are trying to take part in enjoying something, such as going to a baseball game), at least in my opinion. I'm not saying this simply because I am 12 and a common victim of this way of parenting but because I believe that it is important to be open to what a kid has to say, even if it's in an argument. Listen to what they have to say, make them feel a part of something, not a farmer's crop that is meant to grow one specific way.

I personally believe that though the parents are the ones who make the rules that they shouldn't overuse their authority. The kids shouldn't be able to control what happens to their parents or what happens around the house, but their parents shouldn't be able to control who the kid is going to be or how his/her life is to be planned out. Give them space. Consider them EQUALS.

You are hearing this from a 12 year old 7th grade male, also an intellectual. I kindly ask that you do NOT use my age and lack of profession beyond that of a 7th grader against me or to make improper judgements that my opinions are thoughts that only a lowly kid would have, and that they are silly and untrue.

Re: It sounds impossible, but...

That sounds like something I would post. I feel the same way. As a teenage boy, it is hard for me to want to step up to the plate and make a difference and make large contributions and decisions in my life before being stopped by adult authority and stereotyping that no children have enough power to make a change. To me, it's not enough for a parent to simply adore their child. They need to take them into consideration as well and make them feel like equals who feel that they are respected, not helpless sheep with nothing to live for until so long as they are under their rule.

If the child is ruling, it is simply a product of poor parenting. But if the parent is ruling, that is a product of poor parenting too. I personally believe that parents and supervisors put too much emphasis on 'breaking down' their kids and trying to tell them 'who's boss', and that they have no power to decide what happens to them. Though many supervisors may believe that is a proper way to parent, it is really only something that gets them by. By putting down such excessive restrictions and enforcements, that may result in psychological scars on the kid that could last a lifetime.

I just thought you would all like to hear this from a teenage boy's perspective (well, almost a teenager).


I'm thirteen. Don't use that as criteria for judging me though please.

In Iraq, we are teaching them to be democratic. Why? Because they were brought up in a dictarship.

I am being brought up in a dictarship also (parents=complete authority). Someone please teach me what democracy is like.

Good on ya cyber king!

Kids don't rule and they DO know their place and when the tone of their parents voice means business. Kids ARE entitled to voice and make choices based on the guidance of their parents in many cases but not out of pure authoritarian force. Speak out children...teach the adults how you feel from the eyes of a youngster! Parents, i suggest you listen to your children for they are much brighter than you think. *smile*


I am sooo super proud that you're stepping out. I personally believe that kids need discipline, but it should be appropriate and proportionate to the action. I also think that kids should get more freedom and more responsibilities proportionate to their age and maturity. As a kid whose parents follow this philosophy as well, I say that your parents need to understand that you are growing up, maturing, and that if they shelter you forever, you will never be able to be an adult. Try to talk to them about this by offering a compromise- for instance, on the baseball game thing, ask if one of them or another parent can go with you, or if you can do chores or something as an added responsibility to go with the added priveledge. Keep in mind that parents DO listen, sometimes. Often they are so used to you being young and inexperienced that they want to treat you that way forever, but they need to understand that if they treat you that way forever, you will be that way forever! This is, by the way, the voice of experience- we were all twelve/thirteen once. It's a cruddy year- your parents don't really know what to do with you (Trust me- I know, and I'm not exactly the rebellious one)

Parents- we kids DO need limits- it helps us feel secure. But we can never grow up if those limits aren't GRADUALLY replaced with responsibilities. But don't expect kids to act like adults. They don't have the experiences that adults do- and THEY'RE NOT ADULTS! You can help your kids, though, by explaining the reasons for rules as they get older. When we ask why, we're not usually trying to question authority or be disrespectful- we just want to know. And when we offer another solution, listen. We may not be right (usually we aren't), and we don't expect to be. But we might be, and more than that, we just want to feel that you understand we ARE growing up, and want to be treated like so.

Taking Children Seriously

WOW! If your Mom doesn't see that you respect her boundaries, but also respect yourself and need to be heard, she is missing out! I'm the Mother of a soon to be 3 yr. old, and although I listen to him, he knows there are boundaries in his little life, but I respect him now as a toddler, and I hope he reflects that. I feel kids need to grow up with boundaries, and I don't see you disrespecting that at all. I hope I'm on the right track with my son. My personal opinion, a parent needs to be a parent first, then a friend, but know when to be which, and always, always keep the door of communication open. If not, children will seek out others and those others may not be such a good influence. How about a third party sitting in with you and your Mom for a real heart to heart?? I know I could've used that when I was 13 with my Mom. You're such a bright young man and very articulate. How about writing her a letter with your thoughts? Good luck.

fatherless nephew in trouble

What advice do you have, for an brother/uncle and aging grandparents who are still (lifelong) trying to help a bipolar sister/daughter and her three fatherless children, watching the teen boys become angry and defiant of authority with their bipolar mom on their side which is bad enough but it all gets dumped in the brother/uncle and grandparents' lap and home on a daily basis.

How does an uncle put in the awkward place of trying to maintain discipline in a family where it is usurped by a woman and her wild children that have no love or respect for the only people in their lives that love them enough to care? They are all destroying this family and the boys are getting worse every respect for themselves or love and no desire for the nurturing grandparents willingly offer -every time uncle tries to bring about a little peace or at least rational debate it gets so ugly and stressful on all. They know they have the upper hand as their mother has showed them the way to achieve anything thru screaming and thoughtless behavior. Help this uncle who has no experience and is loosing his family.

Take it from me.

Parents need to know when to let their kids grow up.

I'm 14 and in year 10 and my boyfriend just turned 17. My parents don't know about him because before I went out with him, we were friends and my mum knew about him and how he was 2 school years above me. One day she decided to give me this lecture about how I'm too young for a boyfriend and all that stuff. She had a go at me for having a lot of friends who were boys and told me I had better not be getting "involved" with any of them, especially the guy who is now my boyfriend as he was 2 years older than me. I told her I wasn't and later, I wondered how she could have a go at me if I fancied him because her and my dad are about 8 years apart. Then again, this is coming from the person who told me kissing gets you pregnant.

It also helps if the parents follow the same rules as the kids. Not the kid-related ones like "don't go out after a certain time", but things like withdrawal of priviliges. I hate going dancing, but my mother makes me (another thing that parents should think about - what kids WANT to do, not what they THINK they should do) and one day she said that if I wasn't ready by a certain time, I would have my internet connection cut off. I virtually worship the internet, so I made sure I was ready by the time, but she wasn't. I suggested that she have her internet connection severed for not abiding by her own rules but she told me that was stupid. How are children meant to learn if rules only apply to them, and not others around them?

I want to go on holiday with my friends next summer after we finish our GCSEs but I'm not sure I'll be allowed because of how over-protective my parents are. By then, we will all be 16 and I need to learn independance. The other day I was wandering around town with my friend and he started talking about which roads to go down and I had no idea what he was talking about because I don't know where anything is. It's that kind of thing that lets me know that I'll never be able to find my car in any car park when I'm older. And that's quite an important thing to know how to find, right?

Spot on, Goblin. It is very

Spot on, Goblin. It is very hard for conventional parents to support their children in their growing independence. They tend to want to hide information (kissing makes you pregnant... oh, so THAT'S what does it...), and they make arbitrary rules (so 15 years and 11 months is too young for a boyfriend, but magically in the following 4 weeks all girls become super mature and ready for love).

They think they are protecting you from things for which they think you are not ready. Really, they are controlling your actions in a self-defeating way, because what are the chances of you asking for their help and guidance as you do start to explore towns and love and going on holiday and everything else? If your mother is at all rational (don't count on it), that might be the tack to take: "Do you want me to be open and honest with you and ask your advice when I am trying to make decisions? What behaviour on your part do you think would make that most likely?"

(and the answers you are looking for are: open-minded acceptance of the problem rather than immediate judgement, the freedom to take or not take the advice, creative thinking about ways in which you might be able to build your independence without your protective mother having a heart attack...)

Good luck. Perhaps you can find some trusted adults to turn to for advice, who will respect you as an autonomous rational human being. It's worth looking out for them :-)

parenting problems....

Hey there! I am a mother of an almost 5 year old. My problem is this.. I love my son more than life itself, but I am also growing extremely frustrated! I admit that I am not the best mother in the world. He is my first child, and I am learning how to parent as he is learning to grow. He and I have somehow gotten to the point though where he is getting out of control. Not only is he talking back, and throwing fits when he is told that he cannot have a cookie because it is too close to dinner time (one example.. this occurs for MANY things), he is hitting me (and only me) and just outright disregarding anything that I have to say! If I tell him no cookie, he steals one when I go to the bathroom. And then blames it on the boogeyman! A few times now when he has thrown the worst hissy fits, I picked him up and just hugged him and he burst into tears. He is obviously frustrated, but I am not sure that is all. Could this be anxiety or stress knowing that he will be starting school this year? Or something else? And if nothing I say or do is having any effect (I've tried time out, groundation, scolding, making him clean his own messes... countless things and nothing works!) Why is this just happening now? how do I get through to him? How can I control the situation? I am beyond frustrated and admittedly, there have been a few times I wanted to give up and send him to his fathers permanently. But then I remember that I have been raising him for 5 years now, on my own, and I love him far too much to ever give up on him. Any advice would be appreciated!

-Frustrated Mother-

in the same boat

I read one of the texts above " A fatherless nephew in trouble" searching for a way to help my own floundering family as with that recount my sister is bipolar and is dealing with a drug abuse problem as well. my nephew and neice are quite younger. him 6 and she only four yet the same issues apply I can not help or settle anything involving them while their mother is around no matter what i do it doesn't work. they know she will let them do what they like. if i tell them to stop shout she come and tells them to not listen that they can do what they like that i have no right to tell them what to do. yet as soon as it get on her nerves she screams for them to shut-up it's this controdictory behavour which has confused them, and has stretched my family to the breaking point if any can find or know a way to help please do so.