This is something I have posted before, but because I have had several people tell me it was helpful to them, I thought I would post it again here.
Something has been bothering me for a long time and it is what I call "Inverse Parenting." You see it all the time, but I don't know that it really has a name. I thought about this when my kids were little but felt like I needed to try it for a long time to see if my theory was correct. I am not sure this is scientific at all, but my kids are 21-33 [four sons, one daughter] and it has proved true with us.
Good parenting should look like this...Hold your babies close and as they become aware of more, make sure to impose limits and teach right from wrong. Make sure they will mind you...you know when you say they need to do something they do it, they don't say "no" and get away with it. You will have to be diligent as "folly is bound up in the heart of a child." But you must be in control, and they must learn to be under your authority. They will likely be under some authority all their lives, so they may as well learn when they are young. I don't mean for you to be rigid and mean, but to be consistent and firm when it comes to discipline. Your motivation should always be for the greater good of the child, and to lead out of love, but many times this requires you to tirelessly work with them to stay within the rules, treat others with respect and so on.
As the children grow you can begin to let go; so by the time they are in their early teens they have more privileges, they can make more decisions and have more freedom. This should increase with age until the child is an adult. At that time, they become accountable to God. This is important--with age comes more responsibilities and more freedom.
But, what I see is INVERSE PARENTING. This looks like the whole world revolving around the child. The parent asks the child's opinion on many things, lets the child say things that a child ought not say, like "I hate you," or "You can't make me," or "I won't eat this," and so forth. Many children do this, but they should not get away with it. But, in inverse parenting the parent looks the other way, or tries to talk the child through it, or thinks it is cute.
As time passes, the child usually becomes more demanding, less respectful of all authority and the parent finds that when the child becomes a young teen they are harder and harder to manage. At this time the parent tries to pull in the reigns, be more strict, set firmer limitations at the very time when they should be letting go. I have seen this over and over again with so many families that I know. And rarely does it work.
These children usually go through a very rebellious teen time, and many times do come out OK in the end, but they sure upset the family in the process. It is so much more enjoyable for the whole family and society in general when the child is obedient in young years. Good parenting is much more likely to produce likable teens and responsible adults than inverse parenting.
I know it is not easy to be consistent with young children. I know it can drain you to correct them and train them-but the rewards are great and I think you owe it to your children.