Parenting Corner: You Say Free Spirit, I Say Misbehaving

parenting corner copyI read an article headlined Stop Calling Assertive Women Bitches. It had nothing to do with women. Instead it was about the woman’s daughter who’s a free-spirit of such magnitude that people on the street comment on her behavior, describing her in unflattering terms. The mother takes offense, defending her daughter’s behavior saying she’s prepping to be CEO someday.

I disagree.

See, all kids–boys and girls–need to learn how to behave in society. That’s how things work.

Have you been in the classroom with kids who don’t behave? They suck the life out of the learning experience for the kids who do behave. They use up all the energy of the teacher, all the emotional resources of the adults, and they rob the other kids of an opportunity of their fair share of attention. In the end, no one learns what they should have.

When I encounter your “strong-willed” daughter careening through the aisles of the store uncontained, unsupervised, willy-nilly stopping the movement of my cart down the aisle, my first thought is “brat” quickly followed by “poorly parented.” There’s nothing wrong with discipline. In fact, I think any CEO will tell you that it takes a lot of discipline to achieve such a position and a lot more to maintain it. No one remains a CEO for very long if they run roughshod over the people around them.

Discipline is not a bad thing. It is a good thing. Learning to lovingly, compassionately, and consistently apply it is a parent’s biggest responsibility. Failure to do so sets your child up for a lifetime of disappointment and disillusionment as she learns that the world will not always bend to her will.

As for calling women bitches, that’s another issue entirely. There’s time to worry about that when your daughter is a little older. First, she needs you to teach her how to be independent and strong-willed while respecting others. Second, you need to realize that’s a good thing.


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