Who’s the Boss? Being the Parent in Control of a Bossy Kid Is Harder Than You Think

You may be the authority figure, but that means little when your kid is the boss!

In this modern age of gentle discipline and attachment parenting, it’s hard to tell whether the confident, authoritative parent has truly gone the way of cassette tapes or if it’s just because — now that I, myself, am a parent and still hardly consider myself a grown-up — I question whether such a mythic creature ever existed. Then I remember my own childhood and my own mom, and I’m reminded that those parents do exist. I’m just not one of them.

A couple weeks ago, after Little Gym, two other moms and I walked down to Mother Earth to get some lunch with the kids. One was screaming for juice. Mine was going rogue in search of vegan muffins. And the third sat placidly in her seat (there’s always one good one). At one pont, one of the other moms — a very funny, animated woman — grabbed my arm as though to brace herself and surveyed the scene dramatically. I totally got her. Somehow we moms frequently become the children in our attempts to gain control and retain composure, reduced to stomping our feet and whining “I’m the parent! I’m in charge!” It never works.

I decided to embrace this reality, and just address it with Coraline head on. “Who’s the boss?” I asked her one morning as she was giving me a headache about one of the million things she gives me a headache about. She smiled knowingly, and pointed to me. “That’s right,” I confirm. “And you’re the weasel. Mommy’s the boss, and you’re the weasel.” (Weasel, or Weezy, has long been a pet name of hers.) She thinks this is hysterical. When I feel my inner two-almost-three-year-old come out, I try to smile and ask her this… it worked for about a day. And then her answer invariably became: “I’m the boss, you’re the weasel.” All things considered, she may be right.

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