A new book by parenting expert Dr.Leonard Sax is challenging all the common mistakes parents are making while raising kids in this modern world.

The longtime family physician, psychologist and father himself from Exton, Pennsylvania, Dr. Sax argues throughout the book that children today are suffering because their parents are no longer the ones in charge.

From allowing children to go to sleep attached to digital devices to constantly assuring they are ‘amazing’, the experienced doctor urges parents to set solid ground rules for their children by teaching them humility and ensuring there are designated times for using devices attached to the digital world.

Dr. Sax uses examples he has seen in his own practice to demonstrate his points about the need for solid ground rules.

“I wrote about an office visit with a 10-year-old boy who is sitting and playing a game on his mobile phone, ignoring me and his mom as I’m talking with his mom about his stomach ache,” he recalled. “And his mom is describing his stomach ache and the boy says, “Shut up, mom, you don’t know what you’re talking about.” And he laughs.”

After the boy’s flagrant show of disrespect, his mother did nothing but look a ‘little embarrassed’.

“That would have been very unusual in 1990 or 2000,” he explained. “It is now common: children, girls and boys, being disrespectful to parents, being disrespectful to one another, being disrespectful to themselves, verbally and otherwise.”

The essential premise of the parenting book is that parents and educators are hurting children by treating them like grown-ups.  Dr. Sax is quick to point out however, that parents should expect their children to be mature and behave.  

“I think that’s what it means to treat someone like a grown-up, among other things, although the phrase to treat someone like a grown-up is ambiguous. It’s not about the abdication of authority,” he said.

Another example given by the doctor is of parents who chauffeur their children to visit various schools and ultimately let the child make the final decision about their education.

“I know of cases where the kid was clearly making the wrong decision and the parents knew it but nevertheless felt completely powerless to overrule their child,” he explained. “The child is the one who suffers.”

The doctor went on to say that the same is true in regards children as young as 10 years old having a cellphone in their bedroom at 2am.  

Dr. Sax also believes there shouldn’t be any wiggle room when it comes to tweens and teens having access to their smartphones all night long.

“You take the device at night and you put it in the charger, which stays in the parent’s’ bedroom,” he said. “No child should have a phone in their bedroom unsupervised.”

The recommendations that Dr.Sax are linked to the Guidelines set out by the American Academy of Pediatrics published in October 2013. Parents, however, appear to be wary to discipline their children when it comes to technology.

“You would be astonished, or maybe you wouldn’t be, how many parents find that an impossible recommendation,’ he said. ‘They feel that they have no authority over their child in many domains.”

The book also recommends that family meal time, and travelling in the car without children isolating themselves with their earbuds is also extremely important to engage with children, tweens and teenagers fully.

As for raising children who will become fulfilled adults, Dr. Sax said it is time to stop putting children on pedestals and treating them like they are utterly amazing.  

“The first thing is to teach humility, which is now the most un-American of virtues,’ he said. ‘When I meet with kids I ask them what they think it is and they literally have no idea. I’ve done that from third grade through 12th grade. The high school kids are more clueless than the third-graders.”

“They have been indoctrinated in their own awesomeness with no understanding of how this culture of bloated self-esteem leads to resentment.”

Dr. Sax’s last word about raising fulfilled children?

“Teach the meaning of life,” he advised. “It cannot be just about getting a good job. It’s not just about achievement. It’s about who you are as a human being. You must have an answer.”


  • It’s actually kind of powerful for a parent to be told they are in charge and they have a right to be head of the family not the child.


  • Rule number 1 – don’t listen to parenting experts LOL


  • i agree and it is difficult to be a parent in this time as you are constantly pushing against other parents bad choices and perceived by your child as strict or unfair as everyone else is allowed to do have their phone in their room etc. but i think it takes a better parent to stand up and say no.


  • Excellent article. I agree 100% with the suggestions. I started from a very early age with my daughter letting her know that while she lived at home she had to follow the rules of our home, regardless of what her teachers, friends or others told her. She was never allowed technology devices in her room until she was 18, and an adult herself, but that still didn’t mean she could use her phone/tablet at the dinner table or do so instead of helping when there were jobs to be done around the house. Even now, at almost 20, she is paying board but still has to live by the rules of our home. When she balks, I tell her she could always move out and deal with that if she thinks she would be better off. She still lives at home. I see so many parents who are completely at the mercy of their children, even toddlers. It starts then. If they chuck a wobbly because you have said no to a lolly or whatever, then you give in, they learn they can put one over on you. Eventually, they are twelve, using their mobile phone whenever/where ever they want, cursing at you and telling you to they are going to do whatever it is they want to do, regardless. And this ridiculous trend of giving awards to every kid at assembly day at school just because they turned up to class every day, even if they achieved nothing, is seriously wrong. Kids need to know they have to work to be rewarded, because once they are in the adult world if they can’t perform, they won’t get anywhere. I don’t know what some parents are thinking when they expect their kid to be congratulated just for breathing….it’s completely ridiculous.


  • Good common sense here. I am totally gobsmacked at how many parents give their kids so much ‘power’ if that is the right word. They need boundaries. Even as a baby, just sitting up, my son would take his dummy out of his mouth and throw it down in his cot, then hold his arms up to me to get out of bed… That was just repetition of dummy is for bed time, and me putting it down, he then copied. I think consistency is missing now. So many stressed people out there


  • Thank you for the interesting article. A good read, cheers.


  • I absolutely love this article and wholeheartedly agree with everything in it. I applaud these comments and feel confident in my parenting that covers off most of the above. My teen son has no devices in his bedroom of a night. Just not allowed. All of our devices are in the kitchen area on charge or turned off. We do not praise our son for anything and everything. I often explain to him that we’re tougher on him than all the parents that we know, but that he’s a good person as a result of it with good morals and values. Our son is a part of our family, but he in no way rules the house. Something I remind him of every now and then.


  • Oh, what a breath of fresh air!


  • A good article and sounds like plain common sense in raising children. Respect is important for all; children and adults and children learn from their parents. Parents need to be in charge and children do need the guidance and education from their parents. Children do thrive with clear boundaries and expectations.

    • yep respect is important! we just have to teach them how to handle the world and get the best from it, manners go a long way!

      • Manners do go a long way and they are so easy to use in everyday life.


  • Hmm a hot topic for a debate it appears. But times are changing and so are parenting techniques. I watched a clip of three types of parenting. The 50s were strict and detached but they could get a child to sleep on a schedule. They would grow to be prompt and follow society and it’s rules. The 60s was nurturing so they did whatever the baby needed and gave love and affection. It was said by the previous generation that they were spoilt. However I think that’s also because of the way the previous generation was brought up. Then there is the tribal parenting technique of always baby wearing the child. And they grew to be respectful of others and very loving. So I mean there are probably a million and one ways of how to and how not to raise a child.


  • lol do i be the one to say that we aren’t allowed by society to correct this. NO i don’t condone violence, that is not what i mean. We can parent the best that we know how but society is getting more disturbing and the world is a scary place. Do we then substitute real world interaction with technology? We let our kids go online where a lot of the anti-social behaviour is just common place? i would say that there are a lot of factors contributing towards this generation of selfishness.


  • Just what I have been telling my own children, who are raising children between 2 and 12 years old.
    They say to me \”Mum, things have changed\”. I must get them to read these comments from the Doctor and I shall try and get the book for them.


  • What he says is so true…now if only the do-gooders who have instigated this style of parenting would take notice and not make people who are trying to raise good adults through responsible parenting feel like they are doing wrong we might have a better world in the future.


  • Finally there is someone speaking up about kids having their way. I have worked with kids for more than 10 years and I see who is the boss, even from the 2 year olds. Some parents were offended when I said, they are not the boss you are, but they didn’t want to upset their child. Sorry, you are creating a monster you won’t be able to control in a short space of time. Bring back books, put a book in your child’s hands and teach them the wonderful gift of reading and imagination. The iPad “babysitter” is something I hate to see when a child should be included at the dinner table, interacting with others in other social occasions, or just enrol them in the activity their sibling is doing, it will be good for them to burn off their energy instead of getting frustrated over a computer game. Kids love boundaries and rules, it gives them structure and without them they are too little to make the decisions, so make them for them. Happy parenting


  • I like this a lot and agree with it. My nephews bring their ipads to family parties and I really don’t like it. My 12 year old niece has a mobile phone and won’t give her mum the phone number. Something sure needs to be done


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