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October 23rd, 2009 by Dr. Phil

Should Kids Have a Say?

mother daughter2I have a question that the shows airing Thursday and Friday made me really think about.

First, here’s a quick overview of the family I had the privilege to meet and work with.  I wonder what you would have told them: Not long ago, 26-year-old Kristin wrote that she and her five — count ‘em five — sisters were convinced something really disturbing was going on with their mother, Carole, who until recently, had been very close with them.  Carole, according to her daughters, seemed to be adopting some new and troubling behaviors: being secretive, getting spray tans (significant because it was something they say she would never do), shopping for sexy clothes at stores targeted to much younger women and uncharacteristically, taking a mysterious weekend trip to Las Vegas, supposedly with her girlfriends.

I really try to not pre-judge before I have all the facts, so I’m thinking:  Is this just a mother deciding it’s time to put herself “on the list” and do some fun things? Or is this a case of a woman making a 90-degree turn down “Trouble Highway”?  Carole’s daughters wanted help with confronting their mother about what they suspect is an extramarital affair. Now, I’m pretty hard to surprise, but I will tell you, there were some revelations in this story that I did not see coming, not even almost!

I had some hard questions to deal with, such as: Should children get a vote regarding their parents’ adult lives, or should they mind their own business? When children, of any age, try to tell their parents what to do, or not do, should they expect compliance? And is “Butt out, I’m your parent, not your spouse. We have a relationship between us, but this is out of your area and none of your business” an acceptable response?

blog2If you’re a teen, or a grown child (20+), do you try to intervene in your parents’ lives, especially if you see them doing things you consider to be out of character?  Do you step up and say, “Hey, settle down,” because you’re thinking that they aren’t being the mom or dad you remember? Or maybe, you’re the parent who has a kid trying to tell you how to behave.  If so, I am wondering how you feel about it.  Sometimes life is about setting boundaries, even with the ones we love, but it can be hard. The shows sure have made me think, from both the father and son perspective.  I have always said that no matter how flat you make a pancake, it has two sides!

I’m betting you will see aspects of yourself and the relationships you have with your own family throughout this story — especially on the subject of boundaries. How would you feel if your children began taking inventory of your life, even about the things you do that may not directly affect them? How would you feel if they did some sort of intervention when it came to your marriage? I have to say, I hold my relationship with Robin to be just that — with Robin — and my kids don’t get much of a vote.  I think she would agree wholeheartedly. But, and this is a big but, I don’t think either one of us has ever been on “Trouble Highway!”

Let’s face it, children, even once their grown, simply can’t know everything that happens in their parents’ lives. They don’t see what takes place behind closed doors. To put it another way: They don’t know what they don’t know. So they sometimes may offer very strong opinions with incomplete data. Are they entitled to do that? After all, they are part of the family, and are often impacted by what their parents do.

So, what boundaries should you have when it comes to your children getting involved in your own private life?  And what if they are right?  I guarantee you will change your mind more than once while watching these shows!

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107 Responses to “Should Kids Have a Say?”

  1. jennifer b says:

    Theres so much to say about this one.
    Well as far as me im 27 years old. And both of my parents have came to me for advice or opinion so forth. Well i think that parents should hear what kids have to say just listen but parents should still do what they think is right. Now as far as if the kids are right then if your heart and soul tells you there right then maybe listen. Even if they have some or all of the info. Another thing that needs to be looked at. That i know soooo many would even disagree with me on and so many would agree. Is that were all psycic. Some are more sensitive than others! So sometimes the kids opinion matters. Cause what if there a sensitive and god is trying to give them a messege. And the only way is through that person there child no matter what the age is.

    I saw that show. And i felt a connection with the daughters. And im thinking some of them including the mother might be sensitive weather they acknowladge it or not. I could be totally wrong! But i feel they had some helpful advice that the other side was giving. I love when shows like these happens so it can change so old theries on thinking. Cause i love thinking things. Figureing things out. Out with the old in with the new! :) But i still love the old stuff cause also some old is better than new info. I could break so much down all day i love it!
    I hope im making some sense here.

    Sometimes when im right. Most think ok she nuts then they think and see what it is im saying and they watch it unfolding infront of there eyes. Then there like how did she know! :) Anyways not saying im right never will i ever say im 100% right thats seriously not smart to say!

    But i think in there shoes they might wanna listen to there daughters some. I think there on something! :)

    I know we were taught kids mind there buisness its adult buissness. But i think also if you shut your kids opinions out. It can make them feel small and not so good. But if you atleast listen not saying do as they say. But sometimes when there right there just right the kids. And atleast say something like im proud of you your very smart i didnt see it coming. Your advice was right and so forth. I think parents dont give there kids enough commpassion and listining.

    There so this is how it is you listen to me this is how it goes. Not always yes parents knows whats best for there kids but not always lol. They guide not mold. Im rambling on agian im sorry. I would like to see parents listen to there kids and commpassion. I am a mother. so its not like i dont have an opinion. My son is autisitc. So idk what its like to be in there shoes. But i do know what i went through with both of my parents going throgh things like that i know how it sordove feels to be in there shoes. Not that im in theres. I have my own they have theres. But i can sordove relate i guess is the word im looking for. Hope this gives another point of view to look at. Idk if anyone said anything like this. I will be praying for that family i try to for every family or anyone on your show. I also do for yall.. Good luck! : )

  2. jennifer b says:

    Another thing.
    I just saw where phelope i think is the name wrote about soul mate.
    I found out recently looking on the net. That soul mates are actually bad. That its twin souls or twin flames were after.

    I know i found mind. I read all about it. And it makes so much since. I have been wanting to write about this for so many can see.

    Also this will be helpful for this family as well as others reading this. Just think about your own life who youve been with how its been and read what it has to say. I know its true and makes a lot of sense for me. I hope this can help others to! :)
    And i know phil and robin are twin souls to!! :)

    Once if they get a chance to read this they might see what im saying. Im hoping so! :) Its a beautiful thing.

    And to the ones not with theres yet! Yall will be together whichever lifetime it is! And when you do it will be the most wonderful thing ever! I always knew about the one i love. Weve looked back into time so much leading up to knowing what each other was going through and feeling and so on! So much to it! Were like one!! Hes my other half!! :) Litterally.

    And its hard now getting a chance to be together. But its ok its obsticals we will get through together. One section of it says they learn together not teach we learn all the time together. Were always growing stronger together! :)

    We will be with each other one day and i cant wait!:)

    Well heres two links to that site. Hope it helps yall! :) Good luck!



  3. Think you can learn a lot from children. It was my oldest Son that taught me so much about myself and myself as a Mother. It’s very important to me at the end of the day that my Sons have a Respectful Mom they can be proud of.

    Feel our children’s opinions are just as important as any adult and we should learn from their perspective as well…

    So often, you hear people putting children in a category as if they’re not capable of forming thoughts and feelings that would be wise to learn from, but, I disagree and have always listened to my Sons as they’re people also.. that they’ll grow up into adults and they’ll remember the feelings of rejection and dismissal.

    Those same children will most likely be their parents caretakers one day and will be the one making those most important decisions. Feel in order for them to feel adequate we have to start with their foundation as youngsters.

  4. Laura says:

    I need help! Our two boy’s ages 8 and 9 (they are 11 months apart) have recently started bickering (constantly – am to pm). The oldest feels I don’t trust him and take sides with the younger one. My husband feels I’m consistent. My parenting style is “authoritative” per your “family first” book. It seems to me that they do not know how they sound or know HOW much they bicker in a day. How do I gain my oldest son’s trust back and explain to him the role we each have to keep a happy home. My husband and I don’t bicker, their just being two boy’s that are annoyed with being with each other too much. The oldest is a very deep / serious boy and my youngest is a funny / smiley boy. Too opposites:>)
    Thank you.

  5. Krista Burgett says:

    I guess to a degree, it depends? I have two different scenarios. I have a mom who is an alcoholic and a dad who has out of control gambling. With my dad, he had a severe stroke and I became power of attorney while he was incapacitated. However, despite my plea’s with the hospital that his short term memory was horrible and he wasn’t able to be make good decisions on his behalf and be financially responsible, they supposedly did a neuropsych exam (which is a lie, I know these take hours and what they entail) and deemed him able to handle his own affairs and would not honor my POA rights. I recently told my dad I was going to have to consider taking it to court to enforce POA as his bills aren’t paid and not because he doesn’t have the money….he never opens the mail and he goes to the casino and gambles for hours forgetting the time. I live 5 hours away, do I interfere knowing his behavior is detrimental to his well being? Yes. He’s got a girlfriend I do not get along with. In this matter I stay out of it. I believe his personal relationship as long as he’s happy and it’s not affecting him in a negative way is his business. She’s helps keep him in line and for that I am grateful. My mom I finally took to AA and bought her the books. She was hiding behind a bottle and destroying herself and everyone around her. You bet I stepped in.

    Would I want my own kids to step in? You bet I would. Does their vote count? It depends. When I came home from a work trip to find out their dad was cheating on me, they came to me and told me and they told me what they thought should happen. I listened because they had to live in the environment since they were teenagers and they had to live in a divorce situation. My own wants and needs don’t need sacrificed, but I’m respectful enough of their opinions and how things I do will impact them, even though what they say might not change my mind. When my boyfriend and I were going to move in together. I asked them before asking him to move in. Absolutely, there vote would have counted. Moving someone in they didn’t like would only have caused problems and been a disaster. If they didn’t live with me, then no, their vote wouldn’t count, but I’d still listen to what they had to say because I may be too in the moment and too in the situation to notice things that might be detrimental down the road.

    I think overall, family just looks out for family and sometimes we want a vote and are discouraged when our vote doesn’t count. I think each individual case will be difference as to if the vote counts or not. I think overall, having mutual respect and consideration is more important that whether we win or lose our cause. Families sometimes tell us things we don’t want to hear, but sometimes that outside perspective is more real than the reality we think we are in and it’s not bad to pause and take it into consideration.

  6. Sally says:

    Growing up in my generation the phrase, “children should be seen and not heard” was very popular. As a mother and therapist, I see all to often parents asking their kids for their opinions on what they should or should not do when it comes to adult issues. To a point a child should be able to voice their opinion but on matters that are age appropriate and do not allow them to control or set the standard for house the house will be run. Often times parents lean on their kids and invite their opinions. This is not fair to do to them. Let them be kids. If your struggling with your partner, take it somewhere else so the kids are not involved. Seek therapy and help for yourself instead of turning toward your children.

  7. Avery says:

    I don’t have the patience to read the other comments. I do want to add my own though by saying this: Kids must be heard. They have a voice, and the last thing we want to do is inadvertently teach them they are unimportant. Decision making is what they’re not so good at. They’re still learning how the world works, and make more mistakes (I hope?!!) then adults do. Still, we live in an imperfect world, and there may be times when kids see and get it right when the adults don’t. I hope their voices haven’t been dimmed by the time they can do something. (I’m rather biased from personal experience as no-one listened to me as a kid, and some mistakes I have made and still make, are from assuming no-one still does.)

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