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What Happens When Parents Give Their Kids Too Much Power

Disney Channel
Bennett and Ellen, the parents on Disney's "Dog With A Blog," aren't pictured here.

Of all the goals a parent hopes to meet, gaining the favor of a child should be least among them. So what to do when your third-grader’s the only one in her class without an iPhone? Dr. Leonard Sax sees evidence, in wider culture and at home, that American moms and dads hand over the reins too often. He told Krys Boyd why they should resist. 

Sax told Krys Boyd a “culture of disrespect” rooted when parents started letting their kids decide what to have for dinner and when to leave a playdate. What this looks like out in the word, according to Sax:

1. The “clueless” and “pathetic” parents of the Disney Channel.

First series on the skewer: "Dog With A Blog." The border collie-mix narrator, Stan, helps kids in his host family make decisions and web-journals their days together, pawing away at a computer keyboard. Dr. Sax is not amused.

The dog is more insightful than the parental figures on the show, he said. (Dad Bennett's a child psychologist.) "Dog With A Blog"’'s popularity only confirms parents’ willingness to perpetuate the idea that kids (and dogs) know better, according to Sax.

2. Emblems of entitlement.

“In the U.S., it’s not uncommon for kids to wear t-shirts that say “I’m not shy, I just don’t like you,” Sax said.

This would be taboo in New Zealand or Scotland, he explained. Sax has seen statements like this on clothing in those countries, he said, and approached the children to find out they were American visitors.

3. Kids in serious, serious danger.

As a physician, Sax regularly sees patients who've been sexually assaulted. The mother of one 15-year-old survivor shook her head in his office. If only she'd kept her daughter home from the college party where she was attacked.

“Why did I let her go?” she asked Sax.

He didn't answer, he said, because he knew why: the mother didn’t want her child to be angry.

Listen to Sax’s full conversation with Krys Boyd on "Think."

"Think" airs Monday through Thursday at noon and 9 p.m. on KERA 90.1. Find more episodes here.