From Father Knows Best to The Family Guy: Can We Regain Our Power as Parents?

Posted July 12, 2012 by

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I have spoken to many parents using our 1-on-1 Coaching service who grew up internalizing Hollywood’s version of a family. My Three Sons, Father Knows Best,  Leave it to Beaver, and of course, Mary Poppins are just a few of the many memorable family programs.  Parents gave the right answer at the right time with a slight chuckle for the messes their kids get into.   TV children also loved and respected their parents and everything was fixable! Pause for station-identification.

Today, it’s more like an episode of The Simpsons or  The Family Guy:  “My kids hate me, their teachers think I flunked parenting 101, and my relatives think my kids are spoiled monsters.”

Parents and Grandparents who use our 1-on-1 Coaching team are at a loss as to how to deal with the changes in parenting, social expectations and cultural norms. What worked even twenty years ago, as James Lehman states, doesn’t work now. In fact, there has been tremendous change just in the last ten years.

The truth is, we have stripped power from parents, schools, and relatives and given it to our children. Divorced parents are sometimes played against each other for implementing limits. Schools defer to irate parents to avoid conflict and law suits. It appears that the only ones with power these days are the children.

To further complicate the situation, parents are expected to have control over their children. Well brought up children, are still expected to get good grades, respect their parents, have exceptional manners, and follow house rules. But so much has changed. Technology and cell phones are just some of the things that have exploded over the last ten years, altering the way we spend our time and communicate. Much of this has contributed to the sense of entitlement that children and teenagers have today.

Janet Lehman’s recent article in Empowering Parents does a great job of explain what’s going on and how we can start to fix it as parents:  Narcissistic Children and Teens: Does Your Child Act Entitled?

Many of our children have a sense of entitlement, power, and a lack of respect for authority. In this situation, parents are shamed, criticized, and humiliated — left to their own devices. The rules have changed, our culture has changed and behavioral issues in children are the by-product. We can regain our power as parents, though — and believe it or not, we are the answer. In this article, Parents Aren’t the Problem—They’re the Solution , James Lehman explains how we’ve lost our power, why our role is so crucial and how we can get back control as parents.

So what’s the answer? While there is no way to stop how society is changing around us, we can control what comes into our house. We can also stop blaming ourselves for the mistakes we’ve made with our kids and instead try to parent more effectively, starting now. “I try to distinguish the difference between blame and responsibility,” says James. “Blame is not helpful, ever. The people who are showing up and trying to find ways to help their child are taking responsibility. If you’re the parent of an acting-out child, ask yourself, ‘What do I want to see change and how can I make that change occur?’ And then be honest with yourself when you look for answers. I believe that’s the first step toward creating positive change in your child’s—and your family’s—life.”

And it’s one real way to start taking back parental power today.


Holly Fields has worked with children with emotional and physical disabilities for more than 15 years in the home, at school, and in rehabilitation settings, as well as therapeutic riding programs. She was with Legacy Publishing Company as a 1-on-1 Coach for two years. Holly has a Masters Degree in Special Education. She has two adult children, two rescue dogs and one cat.

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