Don’t Be a Dick: An Alternative to Authoritarian vs Permissive Parenting Styles


I’m always hearing that parents are doing it wrong. According to random articles, television talking heads, and Supernanny, we are all too permissive which is leading to increased stress. I agree that we could do things a little differently, but not in the ways these individuals often encourage: with more discipline and less tolerance for “bad” kids.

If I had a nickel for every time I treated a “bad” child turned adult, I’d be a fucking millionaire. Because badness doesn’t disintegrate. It creeps up on you when you make mistakes, even honest ones, later in life. I don’t believe in bad children and I don’t think that most parents are bad either. I think we are all kind-of victims in this weird mesh of cultural expectation at odds with evolutionary process and children who are just trying to find their way.

Disclaimer: I am the antithesis of Supernanny. There, I said it. And I will not take it back, because we define “discipline” in completely different ways.

For clarity, this is not about parenting styles, or specific discipline methods. This is about respect, not only between parents and children but towards one another. “Don’t be a dick” is pretty much my mantra. Perhaps one day it will be the mantra of my children as well if I continue to model respect in my treatment of them and others outside our immediate group.

That includes other mothers.

It’s about respect, not agreement. Because I don’t have to agree with you to think you’re fucking awesome. I don’t have to agree with you to respect you. And when I see you struggling with your screaming child in the grocery store, I will not for one moment judge you.

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We have lost “the village” to judgment and pressure. It might be time to take that shit back.

So what is discipline and why do we seek it so stringently?

When most think of discipline we envision a child walking along demurely in a grocery store. The opposite of the jerk-face kid throwing a tantrum in the candy aisle, right? But what does discipline really mean?

“Discipline”—or obedience as it is typically defined— is a child able to self regulate, to control their emotions. But not all of them can and none of them can control themselves all of the time. And SPOILER ALERT, we didn’t really evolve to, either. We evolved to spend a lot of time in the arms of our caregivers, listening to their heart rates and matching their breathing patterns to our own.

We also evolved to have opinions. Children need more respect than what they often get, and not in a “we need to do everything for them” kind of way, but in a “we might need to acknowledge their feelings more” kind of way.

I think this might be the kicker. Because parents who listen more or don’t require obedience as a rule are often seen as indulgent discipline-hating hippies. But there is a divide between the type of obedience-based discipline we have come to see as normal, and the different types of respectful acknowledgment that focus on long-term rewards instead of short-term behavioral changes.

But some of the reasons we push these behavioral things so hard in the first place is that we have an overt fear of shame that grips us while out in public. While most of us are tense during a tantrum at home, it pales in comparison to what we feel while in the presence of others. Humans are highly susceptible to shame responses because we evolved to manifest shame and depression instead of resorting to physical altercation in the face of group conflict. It’s no surprise that we respond strongly to judgment.

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And judged we shall be. Because instead of, “I understand, kids have strong opinions and need help calming down,” we get, “your kids are out of control, what the hell kind of parent ALLOWS their child to act that way?”

Um, the same kind of parent who doesn’t believe that a child having a tantrum is a reflection on them; that a tantrum is the expression of an unmet need or desire or a way to regulate their emotions. Children aren’t bad. They need help and they needn’t be afraid to express that. They’re allowed to be pissed the fuck off about not getting twelve bags of marshmallows.

Let’s be honest here, I’m upset that I can’t eat twelve bags of marshmallows too. I just have more impulse control.

And If we want our children to talk to us about the big things when they get older, we have to listen to why they are concerned about the little things today. Because while we may not understand why the blue sippy cup is more important than the pink, or the marshmallows are more critical than dinner, to your child, these are the big things, and they carry these patterns into their older years. To them, these have always been big things.

Perspective, people. It matters.

But there is a big difference between acknowledgment and agreement. This doesn’t mean that marshmallows should be given freely any more than it means that a teenager who has come to you to talk about sex should be given an IUD and a thumbs up. Respectful parenting is not indulgent parenting. It means discussion, disagreement and compromise. It means that communication matters, that love before judgment matters.

Love before judgment. Just like how we would like those in a supermarket to treat us when our child is having a hard time: with love, not with judgment. Where do we think those people learned to judge so harshly? It isn’t ingrained, it’s modeled. And it has been for so many generations at this point that we don’t even recognize it as something we could do differently.

We can respect people we don’t agree with. We can offer kindness to those who do it completely differently, just as we can offer love and respect to our children when they don’t agree with us. One of us doesn’t have to be wrong for the other to be right within the context of our families. We can still be the support we so sorely need.

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No, children won’t always agree with you. They will sometimes yell at you in public and tell you that you are unfair and that they hate you. But if they can argue with you now about marshmallows, they are statistically more likely to argue later with Dave who wants to give them a cigarette. Expressing opinions, and understanding that it is safe to do so, sets up a pattern of behavior that isn’t bad provided you can find a middle ground where it can be done with respect. And whether you see it as disobedience or expressing feelings, responding with love and closeness shows them that you love them unconditionally and not only when they are being “good.”

Good is not based on action, it is an inherent worth in a person. Children are all good, they just sometimes do questionable things. Just like you do. Just like I do. Nobody’s perfect. The mom yelling at her child in the grocery store might be having a bad-ass day. She’s not a bad parent.

Fostering empathy and respect through kindness and modeling rather than, “You will do what you’re told,” does more to resolve these issues now and in the future than any other type of what has become traditional “discipline.” Kids are capable of much more than we give them credit for, but the way we treat one another, with harshness and judgement, urges us to respond a certain way to our children as well. There is less pressure for quick fixes and more room for tolerance when the community is more supportive of mothers in general without this judge-y dickishness.

Losing the village to judgment is a big issue. We all have the ability to work towards something better.

About the writer

Meg Sanity is the alias of a licensed clinical therapist who has spent the majority of the last ten years working as the Clinical Director/Vice President of Clinical Operations for a JCAHO accredited mental health facility. She needed an anonymous outlet where it was acceptable to drop the F-bomb like it’s hot, so she started Megsanity. Women, psychology and expletives, a blog that strives to promote an understanding of female psychology through recent and anthropological research, girl power, expletives, sarcasm and sexual innuendo. You can also find her on Facebook.

From Around the Web


jg11 8 months ago

I wish I could feel this. But I don’t. I know I am judged every moment my kids are in public no matter what they do and I judge every other parent I see not controlling their kids in public. I want my kids to show they can do what I tell them before they are allowed to make their own choices. And so far, no dice (they are 5 and 8, and all directions are related to appropriate behavior). I worry daily I might be damaging them and my relationship with them, but I worry more that allowing them to get away with misbehavior will encourage them to be lazy rule flouting psychos. Add to this that since age 3 for each of them, they don’t obey (before that, no problems!). Just once – an answer of “sure mom!” after giving a direction would be heavenly. I already knew I sucked as a mom – this article just nails it.

Julie 11 months ago

Thank you very much. I had a big fight with my authoritative father about the tantrums of my 2.5 y-o. Now I feel better, more secure that ‘our way’ is a good way. And ‘Love before judgment’ is just the right, short mantra I will mumble to myself in the middle of yet another tantrum in the supermarket. Thank you very much, your article is very helpful and I will print it out and re-read it on bad days.
A tired mom in Switzerland

Shantay 11 months ago

this is a fantastic article, thank you :)

Sarah Greene 11 months ago

In theory it is easy to understand and agree with it, and understand that your kid also has feelings and opinions and thoughts. But when he does something that makes you very angry, unfortunately it’s tough to remember that it’s your kid with his own thought…. I wish it was different..
Thanks for the article

Cathy 11 months ago

Thank you. Made me think, made me realize I can make some changes in my interactions with my kids. Totally makes sense, but you are so right we are so caught up in shame and being judged we forget to think about the fact that our children are little, developing people and that each of us thought not getting what we wanted NOW was a big deal when we were young too!

Steve Nazarian 11 months ago

I totally agree with all of this. As a father of four who’s wife works a lot of nights and weekends I am alone with my kids in public more than the average Dad and the speed with which people jump to conclusions and judgement is absolutely amazing. I wrote a piece on my blog last week that addresses this very issue – the fact that nobody knows what is going on in the life of another. You can read it here:

Gen 11 months ago

Exactly why I deliberately ignore the child-that-is-not-mine screaming in the next aisle. It may be mine to deal with the next shopping trip….or in the next 10 minutes…! I try to give the poor parent the same courtesy of privacy I like.

shellybean 11 months ago

its more of an article about respecting other parents and respecting your childs feelings. not a “let them do whatever they want article”, kids need to have direction and guidance, but different strokes for different folks. I shouldn’t be judged because I spank a behind when occation calls for it and I cant judge another mom who thinks timeout is the way to go. also respecting your kids feelings is important as well, as they grow older they will find better ways to vent but they need to vent their feelings regardless of age or understanding. that was the point of the article.

shellybean 11 months ago

I have judged before but in situations where I saw older kids hit their mothers and nobody would do anything about it. kids throw fits, but nobody should be allowed to physically abuse their parents or anyone else for that matter. when my kids throw a tantrum, I turn around until they calm down, they don’t do it anymore, when they are mad….let them be mad, I have told them its ok to be mad but its better to talk about it than to flop in the floor at walmart because then we just go home leaving all items at the store.

Jane 1 year ago

I agree somewhat. I believe that raising a child is a process of taming him/her and teaching them they are not the center of the universe which is how all children feel from the moment of birth. They can only take love at that moment and your job as a parent is to make sure that they receive the necessary lessons as they grow to learn how to love other human beings. Discipline and love go hand in hand to turn out a self-reliant, competent, and worthwhile adult. The last thing we need is more future generations with an imbedded sense of entitlement.

Jane 1 year ago

I try not to judge a parent when the kid is screaming and rolling in the aisle at the super market. All I want to do is get away from the noise so I can concentrate on getting what I need or read the labels. When the kid is just having fun singing, asking questions and doing pleasant things, I usually smile at them a lot and make complementary, friendly comments to the parent about their nice little child. Does positive reinforcemet count for any thing?

Michelle 1 year ago

As a teacher of other people’s children (who behave both good and bad) I have to say this article is a crock of crap! Children NEED to be taught respect, self-control, and self-discipline. But above all, children (and many adults) need to be taught that there are indeed consequences for each action you choose. We are living in world of “I can do whatever the hell I want and avoid all consequences because I don’t like them.” Respect, self-control, etc., are not naturally inherent traits, thus the reason a toddler is inclined to hit and bite and not inclined to share. Natural instinct is to think of self above all, and it is our jobs as parents and adults to guide children in learning to display more control of self. If discipline and rules help lead to a better, more loving, self-controlled adult, than so be it!

Susan 1 year ago

i love this article!!

Brit 1 year ago

I’m the mom who let’s the kid pick his cup everyone(and he’ll be 8 soon, he’s hooked on the double walled tumbler cups with a straw, I swear there’s at least a dozen in my cupboard) and tries talking out the issues when we’re in public- and if that fails we leave. At home if he wants to throw a fit he does so in his bedroom and then comes and talks to me, usually anyways. I’m the single mom of a kid with autism so our world isn’t perfect and things that worked before don’t always work but I try to not be a dick.

th3r3s4 1 year ago

No one wants to hear their chid screaming their lungs out in a tantrum.. Bu it was amusing to see the look on my son’s face as he screamed and stuck out his tongue at the same time- in the middle of the living room- because it was way too hot outside to go play on th playground. We already made the early morning trip before it hit 115 degrees.

Jasmine 1 year ago

THANK YOU! So good. Agree full heartedly.

Tina Dietz 1 year ago

EXACTLY. I would pair “don’t be a dick” with “calm the f**k down” as two chapters of a parenting book. Shortly after my daughter was born (my son was nearing 2) I was attempting to fit into a playgroup with a bunch of moms who I really wanted to like, but they seemed to thing parenting was some sort of contest.

“Oh, I ONLY feed my precious this particular yogurt made from grass fed cows raised by monks in Bavaria. They’ve been fed nothing but starlight and chanted over 10 hours per day.”

That kind of thing.

They were having a politely restrained argument about parenting styles, which I was trying to ignore but getting more pissed off by the moment. So when one of them asked me what my parenting philosophy was, I blurted out, “no blood, no foul.”

Like a fart in church. Never went back to that playgroup…

Lala 1 year ago

BEFORE I even read this, this has the best title ever! I can tell it will be a fav already. .

Lisa C 1 year ago

If your child is tantruming in the middle of the store, you should remove your child from the store. No one’s child is entitled to be a nuisance in public and no one else should have to listen to that while they are trying to shop.

NO WHERE in this article does it say, “Yes, it’s okay to let your child hit you.” Seriously.
Arguing with a child is also completely utterly pointless- more than pointless, it is harmful. YOU the parent DO have the power, even when you don’t act like it. Either no means no, or find a generous and reasonable way to say yes.

That does NOT mean parents should walk all over their children, bully them, hit them, yell at them, shame them, or treat them disrespectfully. Why do you think kids are out there playing games like ‘knock out’? When you treat a child disrespectfully and with disregard, that child eventually grows up to be an adult with power. Teenagers can fight back. They will, or they will retreat into a shell of themselves, if adversarial relationships are their model.

It is *not* disrespectful to remove a tantruming child from a grocery store. It is disrespectful to your child and to everyone else at the store to keep shopping while your child is screaming.

Jenn 1 year ago

Until they get to be teenagers and they think that throwing a tantrum that would put any two year old to shame(just because you asked them to unload the dishwasher and they didn’t feel like it) is still acceptable. Careful ladies, this kind of parenting leads to teenagers who think that talking back and hitting you is perfectly okay behavior. Wish I could go back and be a bit stricter and a little less tolerant of the tantrum in the middle of the store.

Lisa C 1 year ago

And for the record, I have a 4.5 yr old who likes marshmallows. I buy them anytime he asks for them, which is maybe once every few months. He usually eats a handful, maybe in one sitting, usually over a couple sittings, and then the rest of the bag sits there for weeks. I eat some, sometimes I make s’mores, or find something else to do with them (once we built little houses with mini marshmallows and toothpicks. No one even ate the marshmallows). Mostly they just sit there. No one *has* to eat them, because no one is afraid there won’t be enough, or that they won’t be allowed to have them whenever they actually *do* want them.

People who are afraid of unorganic food or processed sugar can make marshmallows out of free-range organic gelatin and organic raw honey.

Rationing or withholding and limiting something as innocuous as a marshmallow sounds rather dickish to me. I wouldn’t ration my husband’s marshmallows, or tell him he had to wait til after dinner to eat them, if he wanted them.

Lisa C 1 year ago


Why not give marshmallows freely?
A child who was allowed to eat as many marshmallows as they wanted would not throw a tantrum in the store because they were afraid they couldn’t have enough of them, or actually have any desire for 12 bags of them in the first place, unless they were going to do something with them besides eat them (in which case, buying multiple bags might be an awesome idea, or you could find another, less sticky way of accomplishing what they want to do). 😉

An adult *can* buy 12 bags of marshmallows if they want to. Most adults probably couldn’t eat that many. Most adults wouldn’t choose that. Most kids wouldn’t either, if actually given the choice. It would feel awful to actually try to consume even one bag of marshmallows, let alone 12. I love marshmallows and eat them when I want them, and the thought of even half a bag makes me want to gag.

And if you know a teenager is probably going to have sex (and let’s face it, if a teenager really wants to have sex, they will probably do it whether you say it’s okay or not), why not help them get the protection they need? The alternative being, they don’t have it and have sex anyway (and potentially get pregnant or an STD), or they have to go to others to get it, in which case they are no longer going to be talking to you about it.

‘Indulgent’ is used here as a bad word. Why not indulge children? You can’t give them everything they want, any more than any one else on earth could have everything and anything they wanted. But freely and generously giving them what you can, as much as you can, as often as you can? I don’t see that as a bad thing.

Here’s another way to look at it: “a respectful marriage is not an indulgent marriage.” I don’t think there is a single spouse on this planet who wishes their partner would indulge them less. I think, along with ‘don’t be a dick,’ it makes sense to treat children like real, whole people, not like lesser beings who are some how less deserving of the things that bring them joy.

There is indulgence that is neglectful, which is often the product of a parent trying to appease a child out of fear, or out of wanting the child to go away and leave them alone (parenting makes us vulnerable, and it can be scary and overwhelming for some people). I don’t think that’s really indulgence though, and it certainly isn’t generosity. It’s not relationship building, it’s fear of a relationship, a way of creating distance, putting something between the parent and the child as a buffer..

Jess 1 year ago

This little nugget is EXACTLY what I needed today…while out and about today in the “family centric” part of Chicago; my sweet girl lost. her. shit. Because….well because….2.5 year old. And tired and cranky and “no I don’t want to eat anything!”

And all I can do is cover my mouth so she doesn’t see me laughing, because “that’s not nice mom I don’t laugh at yeeewwwww!”

Thankfully there were other like minded parents around who laughed with me and gave me the “I see you mama.” Nod. Whew.

Happy parenting to all of us on this journey :-) have a great day!

Susan 1 year ago

I fall some where in the middle of your thinking. I require my children to be polite and follow directions and when they are not there are consequences, such as privileges are not granted. I also understand that they have a point of view and the need to express it. My five year old can have huge tantrums, usually when tired, and I tell him, “I understand you are upset, but you cannot … When you are calm we can talk about this more.” When he is calm we can usually come to an understanding of why something is the way it is and what he can do instead.
I do everything with my children and I feel it is important for children to be exposed to running errands, going grocery shopping, etc because it teaching great life skills, such as waiting, being responsible and that life is not always about them and their wants. These trips are side tracked with the occasional melt down, but we find a quiet place to collect ourselves and then move on. It is also important to provide reinforcement frequently for the appropriate behaviors that are seen. I am a stay at home mom with two boys and have plenty of time to take a moment. I don’t know how I would be if I worked full time and have a limited schedule, but this is what works for us.

Martin 1 year ago

excellent article – best I’ve read in a very long time . I’ve been bringing up my son for almost 5 yrs now as one of those so called “indulgent discipline-hating hippies” & stay-at-home Dads lol we have a wonderful relationship and I wouldn’t change it for the world :) loved reading your article , its eased my own doubts on how we do things here & gives me hope for my kids future and how we face all the challenges ahead together x

Jenn Galbraith 1 year ago

I always ignored the tantrums and walked away. Once I did that my former step son just stopped and got up and followed me.

Kim N 1 year ago

Finally someone has pit into words what I have been trying to tell all the people who have told me I just need to smack my kids butt or I just need to make my kids respect my authority.

No. I need to give respect so they will respect me! They need to have emotions so they can deal with their emotions. That’s what is so messed up these days, why we all need therapy. No one was taught how to deal with their emotions!

Steven 1 year ago

Great article. Just a question. Why is it that fathers never get included in these topics? Myself being a hard full time worker/full time dad I find this being far to often the case. This is not a complaint but merely a request for the modern day father to start getting some love as well.

K 1 year ago

Good article. Seeing the word “judgment” spelled wrong over and over again made me cringe.

Rachel 1 year ago

Great article, though you have clearly never paid attention to super nanny who shows respect, love, kindness, firmness, discipline, understanding in her approach.

Amber Turner 1 year ago

not quick to judge, we all have bad days.

Gina Langston Brewer 1 year ago

Love before judgement…AMEN! THANK YOU! Great reminder and support for us trying and doing our best to not be Dicks to our families and to our villages!

Caryn 1 year ago

Oh my goodness this is brilliantly written!!! You have absolutely hit the nail on the head. I’ve gotten so much stick for the way I parent as I’ve been told I’m not disciplining correctly because I chose not to smack my child & I do let her yell if she’s angry. Thank you for this refreshing perspective.

Jodi 1 year ago

What if some kids are just more intense than others and that’s their way of arguing their case? What if they have a really difficult time staying calm as they try to explain their side? Then, the parent finally understands what they’re saying and decides to give in? Then, they go home and discuss the behavior, after everyone is calm and the child learns from it. So, don’t judge and show some love. You don’t always know the whole story.

Jodi 1 year ago

You aren’t teaching self control. You’re teaching him that Mommy controls his emotions, now.

Cam Comey 1 year ago

I’m just trying to say that even though you have had good success, that it would be nice not to assume that other parents are somehow not doing things right just because you see their child throwing a fit one day. I am also not accusing you of doing this, I just see it very often. It saddens me that we seem to encourage this negative attitude towards other parents instead of being understanding. After all we are trying to teach respect and what a better way than to show how we can respect the people we see in our day to day lives. :)

Franneee 1 year ago

This is my philosophy! Except I say don’t be an asshole, but I think we’re on the same page. Love it.

Kiya Mcmullen George 1 year ago

Judge not my parenting, lest ye be judged

Jen Miracle 1 year ago

OMG! My 5 YO son is all of those & it is SO hard for me. I think I have been a dick to him – a LOT. I’m constantly on him about his arguing & feeling like he always has to be right. Dives me nuts! And arguing about STUPID stuff (because he is 5). Then I act like I’m 5 and argue with my 5 year old. I guess I had better adopt this mantra quickly!!

MamaBear 1 year ago

It is the author’s choice of expressing herself. Swearing is a pretty common occurrence on this site. I find your comment rather unnecessary. “JS”

Serina 1 year ago

*smh* So glad I read this right now. I needed this reminder. I am not a huge disciplinary type mom to my 12yo DD, 11yo DS & 5yo DS. They rule the roost, though I like to act like I do daily. My tantrum days are in full swing. I always remind myself AND them that we all have bad days. We are aloud bad days. We aren’t always going to be the best. We have days we will win and days we’ll lose. Playing the game is the fun part. Jump in and play another hand. Might just be your winning hand. Some days I am at my worst. Some days it’s one of them. Hell some days it’s ALL of us. Order pizza, snuggle up, catch a movie. Tomorrow hasn’t even begun. Love Scary Mommy!!! Thanks to ALL of you Mommy’s!!! I’m addicted to the honesty! <3

Kelly Ernest Kolmer 1 year ago

Love this.

Jackie Warmke 1 year ago

Well, now I’m off to the kitchen to sneak some marshmallows where the kids won’t see…

Lorraine 1 year ago

The alternative to Authoritative and Permissive Parenting styles is called Authoritative. It’s a respective parenting style, but sets limits. Children need limits!! Limits cause children to feel safe!!!!! …and to feel safe is their number one developmental need. Before they can learn, they need to feel safe. Before they can venture out socially, they need to feel safe and on and on. Please set limits for your children in respectful ways!

Beatrice Leavens Brown 1 year ago

I see too many parents and kids in bad moods. I am a cashier in a grocery store. Kids use the store like a play ground. If they din’t get their way they they screech the whole time. They play with other peoples groceries. The parents never say anything to the kids. Then there are the ones who screech and yell from the time they get in the store. Yes, some parents may go over board, but what about the ones that don’t do anything to moderate their kids behaviour.

doris 1 year ago

Love this! I have always said I didn’t want blindly obedient children, but rather ones that could think for themselves. While this has made me look “indulgent” to many, I have teenagers that speak with me about the tough stuff. Not always right away, but for the most part they know I love and support them and open up. They question authority. They ask why. And yes, they make mistakes, which generally they learn from. I recently read about how hard it can be for kids that were “obedient” when they get to college and have no one telling them what to do. They have a harder time saying no to their friends, have a harder time self regulating, etc. I feel the best reward is my kids don’t feel they have to “hide” things from me. I think there are also plenty of parents who think they’re kids are really obedient, that just have kids who are better at not getting caught. That’s what I noticed growing up.

Sue 1 year ago

WE started to get problems when my son turned 3. I were saying like a thousand times, don’t do this or that! I was just tired of everything and all the “No’s” around us. So I switched my behavior. I figured it is all about attention. Thats like a drug for most kids. And if they do not get postive att. they go for the negative! Like getting on the Folie yelling or hitting others with a toy.
So I focused only on the things he did well. Of course I still sayed No, but I didn’t made a fuss. Full attention for all he did well. The biggest change I had to make, was in my head. It took us 2 weeks and we had a new better balance in our lifes. So easy to follow rules, sticking to my promises & rules myself and focusing on the good stuff did it for us.

Mark Tarlazzi 1 year ago

This is complete bs. New age over thinking at it’s finest. Your kid acts out of turn, you punish them. Simple as physics. Every action has a reaction

Lauren 1 year ago

Love this! DBAD (Don’t Be A Dick) is literally our own mantra at home, so seeing it in this article blew my mind! This is great, and simple, advice, but something so easy to lose in practice when the pressure builds. This article perfectly applies to a tantrum we had at a restaurant recently. My daughter so rarely has them, but we were doing our best to talk her through it. We even went outside for a minute to cool things off. The couple next to us was making judging comments, just loud enough to be heard…kind of them. When we came back in, she refused to stay in her chair. I reached out to grab her arm as she leaned back too far, at the very moment her little feet slipped out from under her, leading to the chin on the table that I had been so worried about. Excellent. The woman was then convinced that I was the winner of the Worst Mother Ever award and I felt the guilt/shame from her words for days. You know what? Shit happens. It wasn’t my fault and it wasn’t really even my daughter’s…though she shouldn’t have been acting up that way. It was an accident and turned into a teachable moment (why it’s important to be seated like a sane person). Still…I was well aware of the situation and her hurtful words did nothing to help. Love before judgment. Of our children and each other!

Stephanie 1 year ago

My daughter’s only 1 1/2, but I can see her doing this down the road. I already am taking the same approach to tantrums (I acknowledge that it’s ok for her to be upset, but I don’t give into the tantrum by giving her whatever it is she wants), and for now it’s working pretty well. I just set her in her room and go somewhere else where I can keep an ear out for her, and she’s usually done within a minute or two, whereas if I hover too close she takes much longer to calm down, so I can definitely see her trying to manipulate me by crying more when she hears one of us approach her. 😉

Priscilla 1 year ago

While I agree with the overall message of less judgment in parenting as well as allowing your children the opportunity to fully explore their feelings and then be able to debate and discuss, I think it’s equally important that they understand the boundaries of that expression. While, yes, your child’s feelings are valid, that does not give them the right to express them any way and any where they choose. It’s an invaluable lesson for kids that although they have the right to express themselves, certain behaviors are not socially acceptable and they must find ways to regulate themselves and it’s your job as the parent to teach them that. A two-year-old having a tantrum in public is tough. But, what’s worse is a two-year-old having a tantrum in public and a parent who is not even making an attempt to discipline (and I use that term in the Latin root in teaching, not “punish”) them. This leads to the outlandish, wild, disobedient, behavior in older kids. And, there’s a lot to be said for teaching your children who the adult/parent is – and that they do need to do what they’re told.. even if they don’t feel like it, even if they’re not in the mood, and even if they don’t want to. Being capable of respecting authority will actually take them pretty far in the world and it is imperative parents teach that skill by modeling it in the home. Overall, again, I agreed that as parents we should absolutely attempt to regain the ‘village’ concept vice judgment, and we should encourage our kids to emote, but there are stipulations to that.

Brandi Maxham 1 year ago

Couldn’t agree more. Don’t know if you’ve heard of it before but “How To Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk”. Is an incredible book that covers exactly how to practice this. I’d recommend it to every parent!

Brandi 1 year ago

Couldn’t agree more….. but the article points out an issue without any ideas how to change or incorporate the ideas. Not sure if I can say this but how to talk so kids will listen and listen to kids will talk is an amazing book that addresses this with easy to follow and learn ways to incorporate respect & empathy without being a pushover.

Kate Hall 1 year ago

Sometimes when my kids are having tantrums in a store, or more often, fighting and running around, I do my best to NOT EVEN LOOK at other customers around me because if I do and I see judgment on their faces, I’m going to get mad at someone: me, my kids or that person. This is a helpful article. Thank you!

Elizabeth 1 year ago

As the mom if a two year old, this is amazing! I so appreciate parenting that honors kids’ actual development.

As someone who works on adolescent sexual health (as a researcher, advocate, trainer) I feel obligated to point out: The major medical societies recommend IUDs and implants as first line contraceptives for sexually active teens. Not only are they safe for teens, but teens who use them are far less likely to experience an unplanned pregnancy and do not have more sex partners when compared to teens who use other contraceptive methods.

While I’d never tell a kid (or a parent to tell their kid), “go get laid!!!” One thing I see pretty frequently is that parental disapproval of contraceptive use decreases contraceptive use but does not decrease sexual activity. I hear girls in focus groups say, “it’s easy to tell my mom I’m with a friend and then go meet my boyfriend. But if I has a pack of pills, she’d find them and kill me.”

Sorry to nitpick! Just felt obligated to point out the research.

Elizabeth Watkins 1 year ago

I can see these points. Keep in mind that children, if not taught to regulate their emotions, try to control situations with them. Is it normal child development? Absolutely. Are some more stubborn than others? For sure. Should the expectation increase with age? Yes. I am not shocked when my 2 yr old throws a tantrum; however when my 8 yr old does, it’s time to sit down and chat to figure out what’s going on. If he cannot reason with me, time to stop the tantrum or there are consequences. They do it in school all day long, in many social settings, etc. With parents/caregivers, it’s a testing of limits.

Deirdre Traub 1 year ago

It’s just that simple. Don’t be a dick!

Jennifer 1 year ago

This is so beautifully written, expletives and all. About respecting our children’s feelings however ridiculous they may seem because they are very real to them. I’ve actually changed the way I respond to my daughter who can be quite emotional. The more I respond with understanding and help her calm down, the easier it is for her to do so the next time. And sometimes, as adults, we just need a good cry too and let it out. Why should we keep our children from doing so?

Stacey Mcloughlin 1 year ago

OMG I wish I had found this sooner! As a mum to two very stubborn children who are very headstrong and argumenitive this has made me feel so much better! Thank you X x X x

Emma Humphrey 1 year ago

I want to say thank you for this article. I am a mum to five kids. Two of which are very feisty teenagers who both love to argue. This article has helped to put things into perspective.
Many many thanks.

Annette 1 year ago

Bravo! I keep getting the impression that I am doing it all wrong by listening and talking with my children rather than at my children. Don’t get me wrong, there are days and situations when I feel it’s necessary to pull out the “because I’m the mom” card, but I try to use it sparingly. I think, in the long run, my children will be better off, at least I am hoping so … and really, isn’t that a large part of parenting, hoping that we are doing the right thing in the long run?

Allison Diehl 1 year ago

One of my kids never threw tantrums, the other does. I do not take credit or blame. Children are not blank slates. There are real differences between them that would be there no matter what. Some parents luck out. Others do not.

Hotsy Totsy 1 year ago

Maybe I’m missing some big social cues, but… I don’t feel the judgment and am a lil bewildered by the clear pain shown in this post and the comments. I’ve had a few whiners glare at me over the years (young and old); I had one eejit woman tell me something; that’s it. That behaviour is sooooooooo stupid I never replied to it because I was struck dumb with amazement or amusement. Mostly I either get outright approval or wishful, envious glances of this incredible time. The boys have used/worn “girly’ stuff, so what. One or two kids at daycare (back when I could afford it) told my oldest that the pink stuff was for girls and I told my kid to tell them that it was up to the moms and dads to decide what was okay for their kids, not another kid. He did and that was the end of that. I feel bad for the pain posted, but could somebody maybe comment on what the judgement looked like or acted like because I apparently missed it.

Allison Diehl 1 year ago

“Where do we think those people learned to judge so harshly? It isn’t ingrained, it’s modeled. And it has been for so many generations at this point that we don’t even recognize it as something we could do differently.” This.

Amy Northrop 1 year ago

Me too! I’m so glad I’m not alone!

Monica Davey 1 year ago

I was just thinking this. I was just thinking THIS.

Kylie 1 year ago

I always smile too! What a better world it would be if we all smiled at the poor parent instead of giving the stink face!

Caro Keenan 1 year ago

On the other foot – people compliment you too, when the children have been well behaved – like on a 12 hour plane trip. “Thank you” I graciously say….then add “on this occasion they were great, but who knows on the next 12 hour flight we are about to embark on!”

Kylie 1 year ago

Love this! And I fully agree. I always wonder about those “you must respect me at all times” kind of parents because I think if you respect your kids as the little humans they are they will grow up respecting you.

Caro Keenan 1 year ago

Yes…I had one of those days on Friday. Hadn’t done any shopping for almost a week. Down to the bare necessities. Out of desperation loaded the three kids in to the car – knowing this was a bad idea to begin with. Got to the supermarket, one was already starting to doze, the other two were argueing and bickering. Out of the car, sat one in the trolley. Walked in, made it down the first aisle. Then it was all on! Crying, whining, and the looks. Pulled the one out of the trolley, cut my losses and made a hasty retreat to the car, with two crying as they walked out behind me! Should have known better. Yay for Summer vacation!!

Caro Keenan 1 year ago

Lynn DePalma – wonder if it was my kid having the tantrum! LOL.

Caro Keenan 1 year ago

I am of the same thinking!

Marie Platts 1 year ago

That’s permissive parenting, not what she’s talking about here. You can be respectful snd still set limits.

Sarah Flagler 1 year ago

Respectful Parenting is not indulgent parenting… Absolutely! I also wish I could eat 12 bags of marshmallows.

Diana Scarborough 1 year ago

This is exactly what we were talking about last night, Jonathan. I agree with her so much here.

Anna May 1 year ago

Fostering empathy through kindness……!

Dei Granato 1 year ago

Thank you

Betsy Argentieri 1 year ago

It’s not always about allowing a tantrum, sometimes it’s about picking and choosing your battles, and not making a worse scene. But I agree- drives me nuts when a kid misbehaves and then gets rewarded! I’ve been working on teaching my son how to take a second and breathe when he gets upset. I also haven’t been afraid to just up and walk out to the car with him either. Sometimes you have to find a way to diffuse the situation, and that can be tricky.

Lauren Ott 1 year ago

This is very much how I feel about parenting my children. I know a few people who I’m sure thing I’m a “indulgent discipline-hating hippie”. I just believe a person is a person no matter how small and children have feelings and thoughts just like adults do. Just because they are young doesn’t mean we shouldn’t recognize them as people.

Suzanne Riley 1 year ago

What wasn’t covered was the child who throws a tantrum because they know the parent will give into their “want” because if it. That’s letting the child hold power over the parent!

While I agree that children of certain ages will throw tantrums and that it’s okay to let them work through them, as a parent you still have to hold your ground or the child will continue with the unwanted behavior. I can’t tell you how many times I have seen a child hit, yell or scream in public and still get what he/she wanted. That can’t be okay!!

Sue King 1 year ago

It’s not necessary to swear..js

Cynthia Eckert Wilder 1 year ago

I try and teach this way too.

Christina 1 year ago

I do that as well. My 4 year old is a big temper tantrum thrower, when he is upset about something usually because he isnt getting his way and he doesnt like the other options I have given him…he thinks screaming his head off is going to be the deciding factor….its not…so I tell him if he chooses to go that route then he can head down to his room until hes done. I always kind of giggle because he will quiet down in his room but if he hears you coming down the hall he will start screaming again!!! Eventually he will come out and say he is done..and then we go on our merry way!

Tara Salinas Waddell 1 year ago

Some good points here

Christina 1 year ago

I am the same way. Actually the other day my 4 year old son wanted to wear his older sister’s princess dress up shoes…he loves the way they clack when he walks!! We were just going to my moms so I let him wear them….we got there and my dad was like WTH? I told him “he wanted to wear them, wasnt going to fight with him over it when its no big deal” He wanted a Lalaloopsy doll just like his sister so i got him one…and he takes it places with him all the time…who cares but people judge the crap out of you…”you are letting your boy play with a doll??” Seriously? I’m playing with a doll or wearing princess dress up shoes is going to damage him for life.

Suzanne Mills-Houlberg 1 year ago

Scary mom you never disappoint- another great article!

Jennifer Hammes Logan 1 year ago

“Discipline”—or obedience as it is typically defined— is a child able to self regulate, to control their emotions.”

Huh? Discipline and obedience are two totally different words, and neither one of them gfs anything to do with controlling their emotions.

Fonzie Alfonso 1 year ago

I personally don’t believe in kids throwing a tantrum in a public place just because they “can” and or want the attention or because they know their parent won’t discipline them at that time and will forget it by the time they get home , I believe a wa

Lydia Quinones 1 year ago

Whether you follow this mantra or not, we need to be less judgemental on each other and on our own selves. I am so glad to hear so many expressing positive view points rather than being derogatory here.

Jennifer Shepard Short 1 year ago

Love this. ♡♡♡

Real Life Parenting 1 year ago

This is perfect. I’ve been criticized for “allowing” the Boy to disagree with me–passionately even. But this is exactly it … I don’t need or even want my kids to be bobble heads just agreeing because I said so. Is that easier in the world of parenting? Sure. But it’s not doing them any favors because I don’t want them to grow up to be bobble heads. I want them to know how to disagree with other people–respectfully–and how to stand up for themselves. I want them to have experience with ALL emotions and how to reign them in and control them when they’re out on their own. I want them to be successful in relationships and jobs. And if I haven’t prepared them and allowed them to practice all that before they’re out in the world, then I’ll feel like I’ve failed them.

Tonya Whoopi Branam 1 year ago

Luckily i could go out shopping etc by myself and the girls loved getting out so they misbehave they stay home..they learned pretty quick.

Aimee Hempy-De La Cruz 1 year ago

I very, very rarely snap. But when I do- I don’t give a rats ass who is around in public. Bcz I know I keep it in 99.99999 % of the time… and then some.

Tonya Whoopi Branam 1 year ago

Mine are grown now and my discipline pretty much followed this. I did not sweat the small stuff and i didnt mind getting into an argument because i knew it was teaching them how to react in the grown up world.

Rebecca Egbert 1 year ago


Rene Dawsey 1 year ago

Just dropping by to show some love. Great writing! Always a much needed break in my day.

Liv 1 year ago

Fantastic article Meg! You’re right – it takes a village – not a jury. We should be more about acceptance than about judgement.

Cheryl Bernett Prince 1 year ago

While I agree with a lot of it I can’t do the tantrum thing past a certain age! In my opinion allowing tantrums allows them to lose control and I try to teach mine how to control themselves. They can express themselves in a respectful manner and still be happy. My little boy is four and he doesn’t throw tantrums and he is the happiest little kid I’ve ever met in my life. Some of the kids I know who are allowed to throw tantrums are the most miserable kids. Children are going to have “moments” but they have to be taught self control.

Lynn Werre 1 year ago

I wish I could give this a million likes.

Amber Lite 1 year ago

Megsanity. Women, psychology and expletives. is brilliant. Everyone should read it.

Nicole Fritz 1 year ago

Lol I always smile and say ” I’ve been there “

Carolyn Kapelle Anderson 1 year ago

So true!

Steph 1 year ago

Love this! Kids are people too, right? We *all* have good days and bad days, and kids are no different.

Maura Linkowski 1 year ago

I’m all about picking my battles, and what I value. She wants to wear plaid with stripes instead of the cute outfit I laid out- go for it, as long as you’re clean and covered.

Kristin Danger Potter-Ramirez 1 year ago


Betsy Argentieri 1 year ago

Everyone loves to blame someone else in this country. I try to keep my son in check, but if I yell at him for every little thing, he’ll be afraid of me. And fear is not respect. Yeah he acts out, he’s 3! I just try to keep it to a minimum best I can. If we judged a little less and showed some more empathy- this world would be a better place. Kids aren’t perfect, parents aren’t perfect. That’s what makes life interesting! Love this article. :)

Maura Linkowski 1 year ago

My kid isn’t a tantrummer, she never has been. She is a smack talker, an arguer, a negotiater and a debater, and three of the four are fine with me. She isn’t allowed to be rude to us, but she’s certainly allowed to disagree, complain and beg. It doesn’t mean she’s going to get what she wants, it means she’s allowed to ask for it. And while I also LOVE “love before judgement,” my new mantra is ‘don’t be a dick’

Virginia IceKream Crouch 1 year ago

We let ours screams and rant and throw things in their bedrooms. If it goes on too long we’ll come in and calm them down. Other wise we let them get it out of their system and then talk to them about what is going on.

Corin Coleman 1 year ago

“We’re losing the village to judgement.” No shit, huh? :-/

Virginia IceKream Crouch 1 year ago

Word. Lol

Virginia IceKream Crouch 1 year ago

I was too.

AM Kemplin 1 year ago

As humans, we sometimes have the need to lose our shite. As civilized humans, we are taught to develop the knowledge that there is a time and place to do so.

Chrissy Howe 1 year ago

The village lives on the internet. This is one of my favorite posts.

Sharon Howe 1 year ago

I’m too busy being glad it’s not my child throwing the tantrum to judge the other parent. I know my tantrum turn is coming….

Megsanity. Women, psychology and expletives. 1 year ago


Bonnie Salasin Brown 1 year ago

Thank you , I was that mom yelling in the grocery store today :)

Megsanity. Women, psychology and expletives. 1 year ago

We’ve all been there. :)

Kathleen Shook Grall 1 year ago

Thank you!

Mandy Robinson Brownlee 1 year ago

Well put!!

Adrienne Grovogui 1 year ago

I’ve been judged too, for doing what’s right for my children and respecting them as people. Shocker, right?! Don’t worry about what anyone says – you know what’s best for your little ones!!!!!

Christina Conrad 1 year ago

Agreed! I took my 3 year old, 2 year old and 6 week old to target and shoprite today, by myself, for the first time. My 2 year old threw a fit and screamed &/or cried over everything!!!! It was a horrible trip! I feel your pain!

JoiandSandy Howell 1 year ago

Love before judgement! Love that !

Rachel Pollard 1 year ago

I love this article. I AM that Mom who will give her child the sippy cup of her choice. Learning this month that I was being harshly judged for this “parenting style” was a shocker.

Jackie Dowell 1 year ago

This is amazing!!!! I try to foster an environment for my 13 year old son where he can yell, throw a tantrum, speak his mind and occasionally curse about the injustices of his day. Then we sit down and discuss these things after the emotional “superstorm” has spent itself. I want him to always know that he can come to me with problems and not feel that he will be judged, but heard. As he has gotten older, he will often calm himself after the outburst. Getting it off his chest makes everything clearer to him. Those are the moments that I treasure–seeing him use the skills that I have quietly embedded in him through his entire life :)

Erin Daily 1 year ago

This is excellent, and exactly what I needed to hear today. My 18 month old has entered the “throw a shit fit over every little thing” phase and it’s been stressful to say the least!

Heather Holder 1 year ago

Great article!!!! Fully agree!!! Tantrums are not bad! Are they a pain at times— yes. But you should give your child a safe space to express their emotions. You may not agree, but respect your child and teach them how to handle them in a positive way. I’m 31 years old and when I get upset I shut down because growing up no one ever told me it was okay to feel the emotions I felt. Till this day I second guess every emotion I feel. I’m working on it and day by day in getting better at expressing myself. I refuse to let my daughter feel that way— she will learn how to believe in herself, her instinct and emotions.

Abandoning Pretense 1 year ago

I love this article and I love Megsanity. Women, psychology and expletives. =)

Veronica Stapleton 1 year ago

Love this!

Kristen Mae of Abandoning Pretense 1 year ago

This is the kind of “Oh yeah. Duh” parenting advice we all need to be slapped upside the head with every now and then. Makes me rethink how I interact with my children. xo


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