Home Page . Services / Contact Information . Parenting Articles . Separation/Divorce Articles . Video Clips . Links




A strength-guided, goal-oriented approach to the positive growth and 

development of people and services.


Back to Parenting Articles


Marriage Rescue: Overcoming ten deadly sins in failing relationships.

Amazon US

Amazon Canada

You may open and print this article as a one-pager 

for handouts or use in a newsletter:



Parenting Guts

My wife and I were talking about some friends the other day. At issue was their inability to hold their kids accountable to respectable behavior. Whenever their kids acted rudely or didn’t listen, one of the parents would offer a lame excuse and essentially the child was let off the hook. With the kid’s face buried in a screen, the parents were effectively dismissed.

My wife surmised that one or both parents were afraid of their kids’ push-back. Technically I refer to this as protest behavior – the behavior of the child seeking to undo the directive or expectation of the parent. The push-back or protest behavior can come in the form of a tantrum, an escalation of out of control behavior, violence, withdrawal, talking back, incessant arguing or emotional manipulation (you don’t love me… you are hurting me… my friend’s dad let them do…).

As the parent acquiesces to the protest behavior, the child feels emboldened and learns that such behavior works to undo the parental expectation. The untoward behavior thus continues.

My wife, not a social worker, just cut to the chase and said, “That parent has no parenting guts”.

Parenting guts. What a concept.

In today’s multi-screen universe where kids whine for increased connectivity to the Internet and portability of devices, so many more kids are getting into trouble and accessing information far beyond their maturity to handle.

As we seem to be developing an increasingly spoiled generation of kids whose manners or help around the house appears to be a diminishing capacity, maybe it is time to think in terms of parenting guts.

Parenting guts.

As your child whines about the access to technology their friends have and seek to have you pick up the tab for their premium cell plan, maybe it’s time for parental push-back.

Really? You think a cell phone makes them safer? Think again. It just may offer them up as a target for theft, on-line bullying or worse, exploitation!

Since when is the rantings of the child, holding the parent hostage by comparisons to the trappings of other spoiled kids a rationale for giving in?

So what if your kid doesn’t like the parental expectation (assuming reasonable) and they whine? Would any of those strategies work for you at your place of employment for getting a raise or advancement?

I like my wife’s new term.

In today’s world, more parents need parenting guts. If the child’s behavior wouldn’t be acceptable at your place of employment, it shouldn’t be acceptable from your kids at home.

Now this is not permission for abusive parenting, but permission for parents to withstand the push-back of their children and teaching them the value of respect, listening, working for their own things and giving back to others.

As these parents develop their parenting guts, then their kids can grow to be the healthy, moral and reasonable adults they would want them to be.

Turn off the Internet at dinner time; have time for chores; make sure the homework gets done; limit the video games; address rude or disrespectful behavior; enjoy some family time.

As your kids are now is how they will likely be come adulthood. Would anyone in the outside world tolerate such attitudes and behavior? Would their behavior be acceptable in an intimate adult relationship? Just what kind of adult do you want your child to be?

The alternative? Spoiled brats who grow into narcissistic adults.

You choose.

I think my wife got this right. Have some parenting guts.


Email this article to a friend or colleague.
Enter recipient's e-mail:


Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW
(905) 628-4847  


Gary Direnfeld is a social worker. Courts in Ontario, Canada, consider him an expert in social work, marital and family therapy, child development, parent-child relations and custody and access matters. Gary is the host of the TV reality show, Newlywed, Nearly Dead, parenting columnist for the Hamilton Spectator and author of Marriage Rescue: Overcoming the ten deadly sins in failing relationships. Gary maintains a private practice in Dundas Ontario, providing a range of services for people in distress. He speaks at conferences and workshops throughout North America.


Call Gary for your next conference and for expert opinion on family matters. Services include counselling, mediation, assessment, assessment critiques and workshops.



Are you the parent of new teen driver?  Check out this teen safe driving program: www.ipromiseprogram.com


27 Sina Street, Georgina, ON, Canada L4P 3E9 Tel: (905) 628-4847 Email: gary@yoursocialworker.com