Accountable Parenting: Is Your Child in Charge?

Note from Mark Timm, CEO Ziglar Family:  This week we are honored to have a phenomenal guest post by John G. Miller and Karen G. Miller, co-authors of Raising Accountable Kids:  How to Be an Outstanding Parent Using the Power of Personal Accountability.  John — author of the million-seller QBQ! The Question Behind the Question — and Karen —a former Registered Nurse — are parents to seven children and have seven grandkids, as well.  They make their home in Denver, Colorado.  You can learn more about the Millers and their incredible work at  


Years ago there was a show on television called Charles in Charge. Many of today’s moms and dads saw it as kids, watched it in reruns, or at least have heard of it. Sadly, there are parents now that could title their family Child in Charge. In some settings, the child is so out of control that the child is actually in control—of mom and dad!

The Parenting Problem

Exasperated, a young mom at the hair salon exclaimed, “My 4-year-old is driving me nuts! When he goes to Target with me, he screams and whines every single time till I buy him something!”

Karen, the slow-to-give-unsolicited-advice experienced mom and grandma, was nearby. She politely said … nothing.

Then the Millennial Mom’s frustration poured out: “I just don’t know what to do. I don’t know how to stop it!”

Karen, humble to the core but also co-author of our parenting book, decided to speak up. With a smile, she spoke directly and simply two words of seasoned wisdom:

“Just. Stop.”

Sometimes, we need to JUST STOP doing whatever we’re doing that makes no sense—and allowing our child to be the boss of us makes no sense.

The Power of Pendulums

If you watch “House Hunters,” you’ve witnessed buyer after buyer state, “We want an open floor plan” and “We must be able to see the children from the kitchen!” In the end, they buy a box with no walls. It’s a trend.

Recently, though, we were stunned when a young couple told the real estate agent, “We want walls. We want rooms. We’d like less noise and more privacy.”

Karen and I looked at each other, both thinking …

Huh, buyers are pushing back. They don’t all want wall-less, rectangular shells for home. The pendulum swings!

Here’s a truth about pendulums: They always swing.

The Parenting Pendulum

My dad, born in 1921 and raised by people born in the 1890s, believed mightily in this 19th-century value: Children should be seen and not heard.

Karen and I, as late-born Boomers, never fully embraced that tenet. There’s a story in Raising Accountable Kids about our son Michael, when he was 10, interrupting me as I told a story to his grandpa.

Mike interjected, “Dad, no, it was a Saturday morning when … .”

As I started to say, “You’re right, Mike, it was over the weekend. Thanks for … ” the man born when Warren G. Harding was POTUS stepped in and admonished my boy.

Can you say “awkward moment”?

So Karen and I didn’t quite accept the “seen and not heard” principle my dad was taught by his parents. We were more lenient. The pendulum was swinging.

Now, though, some moms and dads have gone so far with the “leniency” pendulum that their child is in charge.

Many parents seem to truly view concepts and words such as “correcting,” “disciplining,” and “shaping” as harsh and mean.

Some have gone so far in an attempt to bring “peace” to their parenting, they fear by being parental—strong, loving, and in charge—they will destroy the “peace” in their home. Actually, allowing a child to run the household destroys the peace.

Never forget this truth: Any strength taken to an extreme becomes a weakness—even when the goal is achieving peace in the home.

We believe it’s time to pull the parenting pendulum back.

A Parenting Metaphor

To all young moms and dads, we pose this question:

Have you ever planted a young tree, a sapling? If so, did you sink stakes firmly into the ground and attach guide wires to the baby tree’s little trunk so it would grow straight and true?

That’s what strong, accountable parenting is all about. It’s our job to grow our kids “straight and true.”

Let’s be the leaders in their lives who are willing to do the tough stuff. If you’ve allowed your child to become your boss and he/she now “runs the show”—today is the day to … just stop.

Powerful Parenting Principle

Remember this: God did not create children to be the “boss of you.” They don’t want to be in charge, nor should they be. That’s your job! So, parents, take back your homes—and your lives—by accepting the mantle of leadership given to you. When you do that, everything will be better!


Question:  Have you taken steps to ensure that you, as parents, are being accountable for leading your household? Do you have any tips or strategies to share for getting things back on track when and if the power starts to shift to the children?  We’d love to have your thoughts and ideas, so please comment below!



  1. Priyanka June 24, 2017 at 9:53 pm - Reply

    I believe in sharing small responsibilities with the kids which makes them responsible for certain routine tasks and at the same time shifts some power so that the kids don’t get into the Power Struggle. I’ve seen in my kid that if I’m forcefully trying to make him do something… He rebels! On the contrary when I make him in charge of the task I want him to do..he finishes it without any issue.

    The article is also on the same lines.. To lead the kid! Appreciate the efforts. Keep going. 🙂

  2. elisabeth June 25, 2017 at 7:32 am - Reply

    what about older kids, like 16 to 18? they want to decide more and more things for themselves. could you give some advice on taking into account their growing need for independence while still leading the family? thank you!

  3. John G. Miller June 25, 2017 at 4:30 pm - Reply

    Elisabeth, great question. It’s not a science, for sure – but the key is TRUST. Trust must be EARNED. A key principle covered in “Raising Accountable Kids” is this: If I can’t trust you with the little things, how can I trust you with the big things? As a teen EARNS our trust, they are granted more and more authority, defined as “the ability to make their own decisions.” Remember, we’re growing adults, not kids! Blessings.

  4. Cheryl Mansfield June 26, 2017 at 5:22 am - Reply

    My husband and I are also struggling with our older kids and who is in control. Our problem being that they are all adults, 19, 23 & 28, still living at home for various reasons. Our youngest, the 19 year old girl especially, leads a very independent, private, secretive life, feeling that she doesn’t owe us any explanations on where she is (yes-with our car) or when she will be home(she is always with her boyfriend, so we know who she is with. Thankfully, we like him.). At times she doesn’t come home and doesn’t tell us until we prod and annoy her enough. She doesn’t understand how worried we get, but only thinks we’re being nosy and controlling. I know all the things we should be doing, I.E.taking the car and having her find her own place, but she works part-time and is still in college and cannot afford to move out. The older two have plans of moving out in the near future. We feel so helpless in dealing with our daughter. My husband is reluctant to talk to our pastor and conventional counseling didn’t seem to help in years past. All we ask is for transparency, honesty and courtesy from her and all we get is grief and heartache. She is out of control but very much in control…..of us, I feel. Thank you!

    • John G. Miller June 26, 2017 at 12:46 pm - Reply

      Cheryl, thanks for sharing … so sorry. If you do choose to pick up a copy of “Raising Accountable Kids,” let us know how the material helps. You already know that consequences for your daughter are missing … but in reading the book and discussing it with your hubby, hopeful your resolve to enact consequences will increase. We’d love to hear about it! Email Be well!

  5. Catherine Waiyaki June 26, 2017 at 7:13 am - Reply

    That’s a great article. But it can sometimes be quite a challenge to keep them on the ‘straight and narrow’, so you lead. But after a while, they learn, and negotiate instead, respectfully.

  6. Kevin Miller June 26, 2017 at 12:40 pm - Reply

    Thanks for this John. My wife and I are forever grateful for parenting mentors who showed us the power and peace in “training up” our children with boundaries and respect. It’s amazing to see the fruit. I’m always convicted by asking myself, “Do I love my child enough to do what is best for them…which is often contrary to what they simply want?” I still love what Andy Andrews said when I interviewed him, “We aren’t here to raise great kids. We are here to raise great adults!”

    Thanks for doing all you do to inspire us parents!

    • John G. Miller June 26, 2017 at 12:47 pm - Reply

      Kevin, thank you! You and the whole Ziglar Team have been such a blessing to the Millers. Appreciate you believing in our QBQ! book message of PERSONAL ACCOUNTABILITY Honored!

Leave A Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.