Are You a Pushover Parent? 6 Ways to Tell and How You Can Fix it

by Nancy Reynolds

This post: Are You a Pushover Parent? 6 Ways to Tell and How You Can Fix it Now

Do you cave in every time your teen starts whining, begging or badgering you? Do you lay down the law with firm consequences only to give in later when your teen breaks the rules because holding your ground is just too exhausting?

I think most parents will agree that disciplining our kids and having the strength, fortitude and resolve to stick to our guns when our kids push back is one of the more challenging aspects of parenting. Even well-intentioned parents have been known to fall into one (or more) of the discipline traps when it comes to enforcing consequences.

But experts agree, being a pushover parent won’t serve our kids well in the long run. If you are a pushover parent (or you suspect you might be), here are a few surefire ways to tell and how to knock it off.

Are You a Pushover Parent? 6 Ways to Tell and How You Can Fix it Now


#1 You’re Trying to Be Your Teen’s Friend

Now that your teen is older, your relationship with them is shifting. You find yourself confiding in them about things you never would have confided in them before. Suddenly, they’re becoming one of your closest confidantes and you rely on them for insight and advice – even when it comes to your personal life. You know you shouldn’t, but on more than a few occasions, they’re your “partner in crime.”

How to Fix It:

Although it might be tempting to buddy up with your child, (after all, who doesn’t want to be liked by their kids), you’re not doing them any favors. In fact, you’re confusing them with your conflicting roles of convenience. One minute you’re acting like their bestie and the next you’re putting your foot down trying to enforce your rules.

According to Pam Myers of the Child Development Institute, “It’s perfectly okay to be a friend to your child. However, when you consider your child your BFF, you’re positioning your child as an authority in the relationship which can backfire. Children, regardless of their age, need structure, guidance, and a solid role model.”

#2 You Give in When Your Teen Wants to Bend the Rules

Your son got his driver’s license a few weeks ago and he knows you’re not comfortable with him driving at night. You’ve assured him you’ll ease up on this rule once he becomes a more seasoned driver. Still, every night he relentlessly begs you to allow him to hang out with a friend who lives across town. Rather than holding your ground, you don’t have the bandwidth to deal with his begging, so you cave in.

How to Fix It:

More often than not, parents know what they should do when their teen pushes boundaries. Yet, when the chips are down, they don’t follow through with the very rules and boundaries they put in place.

Regardless of whether you’re tired after a long day or worn out from your teen’s begging, badgering or empty promises, you have to find the strength to follow through. Your teen is watching. They’re paying attention to every loophole in the system. And, the more you cave in, the more you let things slide, the more your teen will begin to realize that you’re a discipline pushover and you’ll be setting the foundation for further arguments or exhausting negotiations in the future when your teen, once again, wants to break the rules.

#3 You Avoid Conflict Regardless of the Outcome

Night after night, your 14-year-old daughter has been staying up late texting friends and scrolling through Instagram. More often than not, she has a difficult time waking up in the morning for school. You’ve talked to her countless times, threatened to remove electronics from her room at a reasonable hour and even looked into turning off the Wi-Fi. But each time you broach the subject, your daughter pitches a fit, cries and promises she’ll stop. Rather than do what you know is necessary, you’re simply too tired to argue so you let it slide in hopes that the situation will resolve itself.

How to Fix It:

Every parent holds the secret desire to please their kids. We don’t like to see our kids upset, we don’t want them angry with us and we definitely don’t want them to hate us. As a result, we might inadvertently take the path of least resistance to avoid conflict at all costs, which experts agree is the wrong path to take.

Your kids need to view you as a point of authority. If they don’t, they won’t take you seriously, they won’t follow your rules and somewhere down the road, you’ll begin to feel as though you’re losing control. Stick to your guns. Even if you have to write down your steadfast responses to your child and practice saying them aloud when they aren’t around. You can still be a compassionate, loving and kind parent, you just need to be firm and hold your ground.

#4 You Don’t Stick to Your Guns When it Comes to Consequences

For the last three weeks, your 17-year-old son has walked in the door an hour past curfew. While you don’t want to be unreasonable (things do happen), you made it perfectly clear to him the first time that if he did it again, he wouldn’t be allowed to take the car or hang out with his friends for a week. Yet, rather than putting your foot down and making him face the consequences of his actions, you keep caving in and buying into his “soft” excuses.

How to Fix It:

It doesn’t matter if your teen didn’t mean to do what he did. It doesn’t matter if it was a mistake or an oversight. Everyone, including our teens, has to answer for their actions. Every single day, our kids make choices, big and small, and those choices have consequences.

It’s our job as parents to sit down with our kids, to talk openly and honestly about our expectations and rules, and the consequences our kids will face if they break our rules. Of course, it’s always important to take the circumstances into consideration; it’s also important to recognize that the consequences we put in place will help teach our kids responsibility and accountability, and ultimately encourage them to make decisions more carefully and wisely in the future.

#5 You Don’t Put Your Foot Down When Your Teen is Rude or Disrespectful

Your 15-year-old walks in the kitchen on a Thursday night and tells you she and her friends are planning on going to a concert downtown tomorrow night. After asking a few questions and knowing the location of the concert venue, you say “I’m sorry, I can’t let you go.” Frustrated and angry, your daughter starts tossing out rude and disrespectful comments, “You never let me do anything!” “You’re so controlling – I hate that about you!” “All my friend’s parents are letting them go!” Rather than putting your foot down, you simply take it and chalk up her disrespect to normal teen behavior.

How to Fix It:

While it’s important to remember that it’s during the teen years that kids will begin showing more independence and voicing their opinions (and every teenager should be given an occasional “free pass” every now and then when they’re having a crummy day), excessive rudeness and disrespect should never be tolerated.

According to Empowering Parents, “You can’t demand respect, but you can require that your child acts respectfully, no matter how they feel about a situation.”

Start by being a healthy role model. When your teen is disrespectful, stay calm and avoid arguing or getting defensive. If their disrespect doesn’t cease, tell them you’ll listen when they’re prepared to talk calmly and respectfully and then walk away. When they return, listen. If you’re unable to agree to their request, calmly explain why and validate your teen’s feelings if they’re upset. “I know you’re upset. I understand why. The concert downtown sounds like it would be a great time. But it’s simply not safe, so I have to say “no” this time.”

Compromises work great, too. “Hey listen. I know I said no this time, but plan for another concert and I’ll sit a few rows back. That way I’ll feel sure you’re safe and you can still enjoy the concert.”

#6 You Rarely Say “No” To Your Teen’s Requests/Demands

You’ve begun to realize that the effort it takes to say “no” to your teen simply isn’t worth the arguing, begging and yelling. Rather than fight that battle, you’ve become a self-proclaimed “yes” parent.

How to Fix It:

There’s no question that as our teens mature, they need us to loosen the reigns and say yes more often. But there are times we need to say no. Regardless of how sassy your teen gets, there are times you need to hold your ground and remain steadfast.

According to Psychology Today, “Learning how to deal with not getting what you want when you want it is an essential life skill kids need to learn. When kids are accustomed to being overindulged (either materialistically or as a result of saying yes to their demands), not getting what they want inevitably feels to them like deprivation.”

“If we offer our kids half-hearted leadership, we’ll receive their half-hearted following in return.”

~ inspired by a quote from Dr. Kevin Leman

If you enjoyed, “Are You a Pushover Parent? 6 Ways to Tell and How to Fix it Now,” you might also enjoy reading:

The 5 R’s of Punishment: Why Harsh Discipline Might Backfire with Your Teen

Biggest Parenting Mistakes to Avoid with Your Teen According to Experts

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