There has been well-publicized criticism of parenting in the news lately. Parents have been told that they are being overrun by their kids and that they are not performing their roles as heads of the family. This is pretty confusing for moms and dads who have made conscious choices not to order their kids around or punish them with the wooden spoon. I remember feeling tremendous confusion when I made the decision not to parent the way that I was raised. I didn’t know how to stop my kids from fighting or what to do with my second son who was a picky eater. The kids weren’t listening or obeying my orders. I was yelling, but I was certainly not in control.

I was fortunate enough to trip across a way to parent that immediately turned our family around. It was so successful that I decided to teach the approach to other parents and did so for over twenty years. Now, I want to help you learn it too: how to be effective without yelling, ordering or punishing.

Is it necessary to claim leadership of the family group? How can you be the boss in your family without being “hard line” and autocratic? Let’s take a look at these questions, one at a time.


First, a family does need a boss, a “head of the house”. Someone must make the critical decisions that help the family run smoothly. Parents and kids are equal in terms of their need to be treated with dignity and respect, but they are not equal in their education and life experience. Parents are obviously more prepared to make major decisions and guide the family, so they must take the leadership role. When the children are too small to participate in decision-making, parents make all the decisions about routines, money, home maintenance etc. But kids can make some decisions too! Within the framework of order that Mom and Dad have put in place, kids can choose how they put on their clothes (right leg or left leg first?), what story they want to read before bed, what color of toothbrush they’d like and so on. They are offered choices that are age- and maturity-related. They don’t choose how to earn the family income or how to pay the bills.

As children mature, they can help make some of the major decisions in the family, but parents are still the leaders. Teens can help draw up the family schedule which includes their after-school activities and homework time. Family meetings can take place where kids and parents discuss the family responsibilities. Children can assist in listing the many jobs that need to be done to run the household, and can choose jobs that they’d like to do to contribute to running the home. House rules can be made by the whole family.

Can parents lead without raising their voices and giving orders? In a household where everyone feels valued and respected, kids want to help. Parents acknowledge positive behavior by commenting on it and showing their gratitude. There is no need for kids to misbehave to get attention.

Parents who employ the Golden Rule of Parenting: treating their children the way they would like to be treated, don’t need to yell and give orders. They are very much in charge, but operate in an atmosphere of mutual respect.

family at dinner

Does this sound idyllic? I have raised four kids this way. Once I learned how to use this approach, fighting between the kids stopped and misbehavior was drastically reduced. I’m not saying that we had a perfect family, but I didn’t have to give commands and nag to get the kids’ attention.

If you’re interested in learning how to be in charge, yet inspire co-operation in your family, I can teach you. Please look at my coaching programs and let me help you. I have a Special Offer that will get you started at a minimal cost. Investing in your family’s happiness is probably the best investment you could ever make.

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