Love and Logic School Supply Drive
Mon-Fri 7am-5pm (MT)

Love and Logic Blog

a couple sitting on a park bench

Parenting Styles: Barking Orders and Making Demands

Jim Fay


Part 1: Parenting Styles: Rescuing Our Society from Rescuing

Part 3: Three Rules of Consultant Parenting

Drill sergeant parents command and direct the lives of children. A drill sergeant implies, “You can’t think. I have to do your thinking for you.” They tend to avoid giving children opportunities to make decisions, or mistakes.

Drill sergeant parents are easily recognized even in profile. They’re the ones with the jutting jaws, ramrod spines, and admonishing index fingers. They’re also known by the familiar word sequence, “I don’t care how you feel. I want it done, and I want it done NOW!”

I know those words well. Growing up, I did a lot of saluting to them. When my father said those words, I jumped up and did it, whatever it was, right then. I swore I was never going to be like him.

My first words in a classroom and as a parent were those familiar words. Starting out I succeeded with not being like my father. I was a really good helicopter instead. However, when I was stressed, strained, or running on automatic with my children, every time I opened my mouth, my dad popped out. Let’s look at an example of a drill sergeant mother and a solution for her.

Don’t Cross the Line

Tony's mom has had it. She's tired of waiting for him to empty the dishwasher.

"I’m tired of this," she yells. "Get in there and take care of your job, and do it this minute! And I mean it this time!"

In Tony's mind she has crossed the line between him feeling some control over the situation to him having no control. Typical kids, at this point, will try to regain control, and when they do, it’s not a pretty situation.

"Yeah, you can forget it," he screams. "You can't tell me what to do. I'm not your slave!"

Here, Mom used fighting words as she tried to take total control. Tony retaliated by escalating the fight.

Use Thinking Words

We create thinking words when we tell others what we are going to do. We create fighting words when we tell others what they are going to do.

After learning the difference between fighting words and thinking words at her Love and Logic class, Mom tried a different approach.

“Tony, I'll be driving you to your soccer game when you've got the carpet vacuumed.”

“I'll do it later, Mom. I've got to get my equipment ready.”

"No problem, Tony."

"What do you mean, no problem?"

Mom turned and walked away.

When she reported the results, she said, "A few minutes later I heard the vacuum running. I didn't recognize it because that was the first time I ever heard it from a distance. It was at that point I knew my life was changing for the better."

Three Types of Parenting Styles Chart

In the chart below you will see the description and ten characteristics of each parenting style.


Drill Sergeant


This parent hovers over children and rescues them from the hostile world in which they live.

This parent commands and directs the lives of children.

This Love and Logic parent provides guidance and consultant services for children.

1. Provides messages of weakness and low personal worth

1. Provides messages of low personal worth and resistance

1. Provides messages of personal worth and strength

2. Makes excuses for the child, but complains about mishandled responsibilities

2. Makes lots of demands and has lots of expectations about responsibility

2. Very seldom mentions responsibilities

3. “Takes on” the responsibility of the child

3. Tells the child how he/she should handle responsibility

3. Demonstrates how to take care of self and be responsible

4. Protects the child from any possible negative feelings

4. Tells the child how he/she should feel

4. Shares personal feelings about own performance and responsibilities

5. Makes decisions for the child

5. Provides absolutes: “This is the decision you should make!”

5. Provides and helps child explore alternatives and then allows child to make his/her own decision

6. Provides no structure, but complains, “After all I’ve done for you…”

6. Demands that jobs or responsibilities be done now

6. Provides “time frames” in which child may complete Responsibilities

7. Whines and uses guilt: “When are you ever going to learn. I always have to clean up after you.”

7. Issues orders and threats: “You get that room cleaned up or else…”

7. Models doing a good job, finishing, cleaning up, feeling good about it

8. Whines and complains about having an irresponsible child who causes “me” much work and responsibility

8. Takes over ownership of the problem using threats and orders to solve the problem

8. Often asks self, “Who owns the problem?” helps the child explore solutions to his/her problem

9. Uses lots of words and actions that rescue or indicate that the child is not capable or responsible

9. Uses lots of harsh words, very few actions

9. Uses lots of actions, but very few words

10. Protects child from natural consequences, uses guilt as the teacher

10. Uses punishment; pain and humiliation can serve as the teacher

10. Allows child to experience life’s natural consequences and allows them to serve as the teacher


In the final part of the blog series we will go into more detail about consultant parents, how you can become a consultant parent and Love and Logic’s role in becoming a consultant parent.

Find more great insights into your parenting style in my audio Helicopters, Drill Sergeants and Consultants.

Part 1: Parenting Styles: Rescuing Our Society from Rescuing

Part 3: Three Rules of Consultant Parenting

Back to Main