An Insolent Child, Part I: Is There Any Excuse for Disrespect?

Written by mom - 21 Comments

I’ve recently encountered quite possibly the most unpleasant child ever. He only speaks to his mother and rudely rebuffs anyone who tries to engage him. When they were preparing to leave our house, he went to our outdoor toy chest to take out a basketball. I told him that he needed to put it back, because his mother was waiting for him at the car. He yelled, “No!” and tried to wrestle the ball from my hands. I held my ground because I refuse to be bullied by an uncivilized brat. I brought him to his mother with tears in his eyes. What did she do? Took him around back to look for the basketball! Fortunately, she couldn’t find it.

The only possible justification for his behavior is that his father is a traveling salesman and is sometimes gone for days on end. This is undoubtedly difficult for the entire family. However, under no circumstances is it permissible for a child to treat an adult the way he treated me. This was not the first time he was cranky and rude to me and other parents. If he were my child he would be made to apologize and take a time out. His mother, on the other hand, either placates him or totally ignores his obnoxious behavior. Sure, it takes more effort to discipline a child when you’re a single parent (temporarily or otherwise) but come on! She needs to teach her child common courtesy and respect. It’s only fair to her son and those who need to interact with him.

Published on May 2nd, 2007 - 21 Comments
Filed under: Daily Life
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Comments (scroll down to add your own):

  1. There isn’t an excuse for it, but I can sympathize–it’s so much easier to placate your child than to discipline and impose order. This is where I really appreciate my husband’s firm authority with our two year old. Sounds like (I don’t mean to sound anti-woman here) she needs her husband’s help.

    Comment by Mama Money — May 2nd 2007 @ 9:21 am
  2. I agree that the child needs to learn respect and civility. You didn’t say how old he is, and this applies less and less the older the child gets, but I hold the parent(s) responsible for their children. Now and again you will find a child who is hard wired to be destructive (or self-destructive) no matter how well the parents try to teach them otherwise, but in the majority of cases it is an issue of the parents just not caring enough or not knowing any better. A child’s behavior at least up through the single digits is solely a reflection of the parents, and they generally do not really begin to become independant until they get close to the teenage years. The problem is that if they are brought up w/a certain lack of civility, then they are handicapped from the outset of when they really need to create their own relationships and be responsible for themselves.

    I am going to guess from the title that this was not the only recent incident that you’ll be talking about on this matter in the near future…

    Comment by Blaine Moore — May 2nd 2007 @ 9:27 am
  3. I was over at my sisters and one of her children was playing with a very loud toy – right next to my ear. I asked him to stop, and then I told him to stop, and then I started to take the toy away.

    His parents just stood there, ignoring the issue, but their presence (and the fact that I was holding his sister at the time), prevented me from simply taking the toy away.

    I was very disappointed, because both my sister and brother-in-law had given up on disciplining the kids, and it was clear that the kids had the run of the house.

    They’re not bad children, but I wonder what will happen in five or ten years when the standards of disobeying adults has been set.

    They won’t pull that when I’m watching them, that’s for sure. I’d rather be seen as the mean uncle than deal with children that run the show.

    Comment by Jim Durbin — May 2nd 2007 @ 12:11 pm
  4. I’m raising a defiant son. I’m guessing your opinion of parenting would change if you had to take care of that boy for even one week.

    It’s not cut and dry. It’s not easy. We’re in family therapy and things ARE getting better.

    But our kids are KIDS! This is the time when they learn. And some of them learn the hard way.

    Instead of thinking of how disrespectful he was to YOU. Think of how difficult it is to LIVE IN HIS SKIN! He doesn’t want to be miserable – but he just is. He doesn’t know how else to be.

    In the case of my son, he’s not my child. He’s my husband’s child. But the mother abandoned the family a long time ago. His kids (now my kids) have SERIOUS issues to deal with.

    You just simply can’t a few observations of a child and know his whole history (medical and psychological). There’s so much more to each and every individual than that.

    Comment by Anonymous — May 2nd 2007 @ 2:58 pm
  5. Anonymous-
    I’ve experienced my share of defiance from my four boys, trust me! The difference is that I didn’t tolerate it the way this mother did.

    You hit the nail on the head with your comment! The child is “uncomfortable in his own skin”, I believe, because his parents haven’t taught him the proper coping mechanisms and social skills (yet).

    And in your case, total abandonment by your step son’s mother almost certainly contributed to his defiance. I’m so glad to hear that you’re taking measures to help the situation.

    Stay tuned for Parts II and III to read more about my take on this.

    Comment by mom — May 2nd 2007 @ 7:08 pm
  6. It seems that some parents don’t understand giving children limits is an important and necessary part of living in society. It sounds like this child will have a lot of trouble as he is growing up because rules and limits have not been set for him. It’s a shame and a big part of it lies with the parent, if not all.

    Comment by saving advice — May 4th 2007 @ 12:20 am
  7. There is no excuse for a child to disrespect their elders! I encountered something similar on a recent flight. What is going on?

    Thank you for sharing this with the Carnival of Family Life.

    Comment by kailani — May 6th 2007 @ 4:10 pm
  8. I sometimes feel that there is always a reason (excuse) for this kind of behaviour, a missing parent, psychological, behavioural disorder, are we just making excuses for our own incompetencies as parents? Sometimes I wonder.

    I was brought up in a one parent family, we still knew how to behave and how to respect our elders.

    Are we (as parents) just being too soft? In a lot of cases I think so.

    Comment by littlemummy — May 7th 2007 @ 5:31 am
  9. I’m going to be honest now, most kids who are wild in public and there are lots, are NOT at fault (ducking fast). I hold the parents solely responsible. They have allowed their children to become like that, and it didn’t happen overnight. To blame the child is wrong, it’s the parental responsibility to teach them how to behave. You don’t just go from a baby to a well behaved kid.

    Besides the point we’ve got lots of friends with kids, and babysat quite a bit now. Interestingly my DH now wants to pick and choose which kids we watch, he has definite preferences. But it’s for the ones whose parents make immediate corrections in front us when their kids are rude.

    Comment by Livingalmostlarge — May 7th 2007 @ 4:55 pm
  10. Interesting. I think that more parents are not training children to respect adults in general, and I think this is an indication that the children do not respect their parents. This has to be partly the fault of a lot of parents wanting to be their kids friends, and letting them make choices, decisions, and selections before they are ready.

    It’s really neat to give a child a choice in what he wears, etc., but then they begin to believe it is their right to choose. Occasionally, you have to show them that you are the parent, and you are in charge.

    Not fun, but necessary.

    Comment by MInTheGap — Jun 7th 2007 @ 9:16 am
  11. I’m the proud product of a seven boy and two girl one mom one dad family. I’m 44 now, the eldest is Mary 51, the youngest is James 34.You couldn’t find a more diverse group of individuals. My Mom taught school and attended school as well both for upwards of 40 years.She seldom adhered to any standardized curriculum in her classroom and maintained the same attitude when it came to our upbringing. My Dad was cop in Chicago until his retirement. Then as he decided that was enough and we moved up to Wisconsin and he drove a feed truck for a few years until he saw the need for a Transportation Supervisor with our local school district.Imagine that here he is with an eighth grade education and he holds a seat on the school board.Which he held for twenty years.Retires but with nine kids there is no such thing and so he went to work as a riverboat pushing barges on the waterways of our country for eighteen years in the course of which he earned his riverboat pilots license. And so my folks were not there as often as I know they wanted to be. And we had more than our share situations, conflicts and, bahavioral problems most of which or rather almost all of which I must admit to being the source of. Despite all of these factors and many more to numerous to mention. Actually just use your imagination and your probably not to far off. against those odds the one thing that my parents maintained was instilling in all nine of us from the very start an awareness of their unconditional love for each and every one of us and at the same time absolute respect for them. And as a result respect and love for ourselves as well as respect and patience for others.And all the while although I know there was many a time at least I didn’t think it would be the result. My siblings and I found that we had without realizing developed a deep love and admiration for these two frustratingly flawed but, incredibly brilliant, as well as so perfectly humble PARENTS!!! They were always that to me, never my friend, or my buddy. I never was and never will be their equal and that is as it should be. All these things where achieved with out abuse or neglect with out loads of money spent on brand name clothes, toys, and if any of us wanted a car. Then we were encouraged and provided with all the moral support we needed to venture out and find a job. And if it so happened that someone was going in that direction on an errand they’d be happy to provide a ride there. Otherwise walking built character and motivated you to buy bike enroute to the primary objective. the strange thing is from what Ive seen, read and heard in the 27 years since I’ve left the nest is that according to the standards applied to what I guess is normal if not expected, there should be nine very angry, frustrated, depressed and dysfunctional people taking their revenge on an unaware but ultimately responsible society. Not the,mother of seven and teacher of twenty years as well as a masters degree in education. Most certainly not father of six and an international lawyer with a masters degree from the London school of economics. And how in gods name could any one who grew up wearing thrift store hand me downs and as most would expect have two girls by different fathers don’t you know.She shouldn’t be going and getting her BA in communications .And as if she don’t have enough problems she goes and marries some Greek guy and has four more how in the heck do they find time to develope a multi million dollar corporation that also was an adviser to the 2004 Olympic Committee and oh she is and has been the president of the company for the last ten years. Or theres the unlikely brother that has his sixth child this past year he worked as a janitor at the same high-school he now teaches at as well as coaches the football team and the wrestling team. I could go on but hopefully you get my point that being that none of us got where we are because of what our parents gave us as far as stuff, they didn’t try to take on the responsibility of making sure that we were all happy,could you imagine!? And as a result we found that we were the only ones that could provide that.As a result we have all taken responsibility for who and what we are. And we wouldn’t allow anyone to claim our failures because those are as valuable as our success of which we share and enjoy with all that will allow us to. All of us were out the door by 18 if not sooner. Mom and Dad are 75 now and still live in Wisconsin in the same red brick two-story now 125 year old farmhouse. Theres 30 grandchildren 8 or is it 10 great-grandchildren were scattered all over the globe we all stay in contact if not directly then at least through the hub that will always be there if we need to but are much happier choosing to arrive there on regular get togethers. And for all these things I guess the world should blame my PARENTS!!!!

    Comment by Steve — Jul 17th 2007 @ 3:03 pm
  12. Wow how old is he?
    As long as the mother is rewarding the youngster for the negative behavior (going and getting the ball) he will keep doing the behavior.
    Everytime his mother does this she is saying it is ok.
    It starts with her or the father actually BOTH.
    Maybe this is why Dad is a traveling salesman?
    Is dad firm with him? do you know?

    Comment by Darla — Sep 12th 2007 @ 7:36 am
  13. hi there I also have four boys and dicisipline is a very trying subject. I wholeheartly believe that the young childrens behaviour is a direct reflection of their parents behaviour. we always have a battle on our hands and it is made more difficult by my wife’s lack of committment in this area. i agree that both parents have to be on the same page. this is also one of our major sources of arguements and has really blown out into a full-on conflict with talk of seperation. as you guessed it i am the hard assed dad and she is the soft mum. Now our kids behaviour pattern is firmly established and we are on different sides of the pitch. what i guess what i am trying to say is that raising children is very rewarding but also a lot of hard work with no easy option. it takes dedicatition and committment from both parents thank you

    Comment by Michael — Nov 13th 2007 @ 2:55 am
  14. let me weigh in on the thought that the husband is needed to provide a firm hand. we find in our house that our children generally behave better for me than hubby and I am just applying some things I learned along the way with a rich “feedback loop” to adjust to the special temperaments of each child. so much so that my hubby is using my methods now!

    we both are dedicated to our children respecting authority and setting firm limits, also. it’s not a “permissive” household whatsoever.

    we are finding play time, noticing things they do right and listening carefully with eye contact reduces the disrespect and misbehaviors somewhat. For the universal “three year old” or “four year old” melt downs, natural consequences and or a privilege taken away shape the children up.

    Comment by Linda — Nov 20th 2007 @ 1:09 pm
  15. You have to start very very young with boundaries for kids. I mean its unrealistic to start making an 8 year old or older suddenly start minding and behaving and not have major issues and conflicts. I have 3 children 1 of them with austism and I do not put up with bullcrap from any of them. I’ve always let them know exactly how they are to behave and 90% of the time get positive feedback. My son with autism has been the most challenging but we are at a point now that he understands how he is to behave and that there are consequences to misbehavior(appropriate, age specific and customized to the child). The kids have to know whats expected. If you don’t do that then you have kids that run wild, talk out of turn, and are utterly and totally disrespectful. If they don’t have guidelines then you can’t blame the kids for acting up.

    Honestly I don’t like spending time with hardly any of the children I come into contact with, its just stressful and nerve wracking to have kids that act more like monkeys or worse then the kids they should be acting like.

    I hate hearing people mostly women say, but I want my children to like me. Well thats fine if you don’t want anyone else to like your children. Lets make sure they like you first! Boloney!!! (I’m a woman/mother btw and i’ve heard this statement more time then I can stomach really and its usually made by the people with the worst behaving kids)

    I also think that our society as a whole have forgotten that we are “raising” adults not children they are gonna grow-up. Hopefully with set, clear, concise, and resonable expectations you will end up with a productive decent adult.

    I know this probably sounds harsh to some but truly if you don’t have some sorta routine that fit those things into it you will probably have major issues, conflicts and problems as your children age, and its only gonna get worse if you don’t get a handle on it when they are young(before they even start speaking).

    Kids have been given way to much power in homes and I think PARENTS need to take their homes and lives back.

    Comment by Stephanie — Oct 28th 2008 @ 10:21 am
  16. Hi…..I have the opposite problem…My husband and I have separated and have joint custody. It was my idea to leave the marriage mainly because of no emotional support from my husband or 12 year old son. I try to be the displinarian while my husband feels sorry for him because I left and does not discipline as he should. I am told that he doesn’t behave with disrepect towards him like he does with me. My son does not want a relationship with me and says I’m mean. I love this child more than life itself but I’m not liking his behavior. I can’t get ahead. he gets mad and me and calls his dad to come pick him up and he does. What is this teaching him…..Any advice?

    Comment by Lynn — Jan 11th 2009 @ 7:38 pm
  17. Is it a court ordered visitation? I would not let him duck out on punishments by pulling the daddy will come get me card. He’s 12 you should be able to sit down and have a talk with him. And talk to your ex, pointing out while he may not have a problem with the behavior you do and you want it fixed. Your ex shouldnt be enabling him to get out of trouble. Sounds like the ex is trying to be the “fun” parent, its a bad situation and I hope you find a way to work it out cause the one being hurt the most is your son. If talking it threw doesnt work then maybe you all need councling.

    Comment by Stephanie — Jan 12th 2009 @ 1:52 am
  18. Thanks for the reply…..No it is not a court ordered visitation. I work 3-10 hour days at our local hospital so he is supposed to be with me on my days off and with his dad on the days I work. Last week my son called his dad to pick him up and I was “wailing” when he left. My son packed his things and walked out the door. It bothers me that more just to think that my son didn’t even care enough for me to see that I was in tremendous pain and he hasn’t called at all. We are seeing a counselor on Thursday. I am hoping that this may help but at this point, I’m not sure. My family have turned their back on me and blame me for everything and are babying my son and telling him god knows what. I have a brother who is quite close to my son (hunting, fishing,etc). I want my son to be close to his uncle but my brother is the worst in my family to belittle me. My son actually said that he didn’t want me to return home for fear that my brother can’t visit.
    I am desperate for quidance……Please help

    Comment by Lynn — Jan 12th 2009 @ 7:15 pm
  19. Lynn,
    I have a similar problem. My husband has 2 kids (16 1/2 and 13) and they are usually good kids, but at their mother’s they have NO discipline and when they come to our house its hard for them to get used to rules.
    My husbands oldest son was instructed by his mother & her lawyer that he was “legally able to choose where to live” since he was 13.
    A couple of times he has pulled that trick on my husband, when he does not like the rules at our house, he just “informs” my husband that he is old enough to decide who to stay with. We do have a court order that mandates that he stays with my husband 30% of the time, so that might be something you want to think about.
    We resolved the problem by agreeing with his mother NOT to support this kind of behavior.
    What would happen if your son calls his father to pick him up and your ex- tells him, he needs to work out his issues with you and DOES not pick him up? Would he agree to that?

    Comment by MaIsabel — Feb 23rd 2009 @ 3:37 pm
  20. I see a lot of parent blaming going on. Did any one ever stop to think that it is society and all those whining don’t lay your hands on my child/ take the lords prayer out of schools as it offends my childs beliefs yadda yadda yadda.
    The parent is not allowed to discipline the child anymore. One quick tap on the ass has lookie looks screaming for child welfare to look into it.
    My son is one of these boys who will stamp his feet and refuse to do what he is told, everywhere else but at home. He tries but damn it he only gets so far. He is one of the sweetest little helpers when he chooses to be and will work harder than most children his age he is 5 wil be 6 in Dec this year. There have been a few times I have been called to the school due to him threatening to leave the property and refusing to do his work. When I have reached the school my son is sitting in the office with a snack and toy in hand. Tell me where he is learning wrong gets benefits, “At home or at school.”

    Just had to comment on this as one very very tired Mother of getting blamed for a so called BAD child.

    Comment by Kelly — Nov 7th 2009 @ 9:00 am
  21. Believe me when I tell you that allowing disrespect from a child creates a grown woman who is intolerable. My 45 year old step daughter visits rarely and for good reason. Her father doesn’t want to deal with her wrath and confront her outbursts so she is an angry, undiciplined, wrathfilled “adult” that complains incessantly. She finds fault with everyone around her. Her one grown child won’t have anything to do with her, and her 17 year old is ashamed of her.
    Her heLth is not good. She looks anorexic but has a digestive disorder. Very sad. Her older sister is similar. Very needy. Probably an alcoholic. Parents be forwarned: taking no action is taking the weasel way out. If you can’t discipline your kids, you have no business having them.

    Comment by Nan — Jul 21st 2014 @ 7:34 am

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