Building Successful Relationships: On Effective Parenting: Part 2

Dr. Clifford N. Lazarus


Brenda came from a very permissive family, whereas her husband, Robert, grew up in a very strict household. They each bad their own personal problems, but matters came to a head when they became parents . Their philosophies of child rearing were poles apart, and their kids were constantly caught in the crossfire.


Children, of course, don’t automatically know what’s best for them, and parents must guide them in healthy and socially appropriate directions. The difficulty arises when parents pressure their kids to do what is really best for the parents, and not what is in the best interests of the children. There is a big difference between setting an 8 p.m. bedtime for a child who has a busy day the next day, and insisting on an early bedtime because the parents want to watch a television program.

Many parents see their children as extensions of themselves, and demand that their kids obey instructions without question. They don’t recognize that children are free-thinking, autonomous individuals who can reason and act according to their own internal motivations. When parents are too demanding and overbearing, often the result is a child who is either rebellious and defiant, or one who is anxious and insecure.

• Healthy ego development in a child requires that he or she have a voice in the family that is at least heard and acknowledged, if not necessarily agreed with.

Overly permissive and indulgent parenting can result in equally unfortunate character development, including low frustration tolerance and feelings of excessive entitlement. As in most things, balance is the aim.

The key is to know when to be permissive and when to reign in the controls.

• Imposing natural consequences for an action is permissiveness with a point.

When Bobby refused to go to bed at 8:30, his father grounded him the next day. When Kenny insisted on staying up past his usual bed time, his father told him that no matter how tired he was the next day he would still have to mow the lawn after school. Grounding Bobby imposed an artificial consequence. It had nothing to do with bed time, and it probably injected an unhealthy dose of anger and resentment into their relationship.

But pointing out to Kenny that his choice to stay up late might result in his being too tired the next day to easily cope with his responsibilities allows the child to see a relationship between an action and the result, and better permits the child to learn from his mistakes.


Dr. Clifford N. Lazarus is a licensed psychologist, Co-founder and Clinical Director of The Lazarus Institute. In addition to his general psychotherapy practice, Dr. Clifford Lazarus specializes in health and neuropsychology.

Dr. Clifford Lazarus received his B.A., M.S., and Ph.D. in psychology from Rutgers University where he was a Henry Rutgers Research Scholar.  Seen here are excerpts from one of his books, The 60-Second Shrink – 101 Strategies For Staying Sane In a Crazy World, a book, he co-authored with his father “One of the ten most influential psychotherapists in America”  Arnold A. Lazarus, Ph.D.  For more details on Dr. Clifford Lazarus visit this link to The Lazarus Institute.  Or visit his page here on

Books available at Amazon by Arnold and Clifford Lazarus

Direct links to two highly recommended books by Dr. Clifford Lazarus and Dr. Arnold A. Lazarus:

The 60-Second Shrink: 101 Strategies for Staying Sane in a Crazy World 

Don’t Believe It for a Minute!: Forty Toxic Ideas That Are Driving You Crazy

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