Prepare to downvote me.

Context: There appears to be this folklore strat of comparing parents to supervisors/bosses/employers when parents have a discussion/disagreement/argument/debate with their children.

  1. It seems to be a good strat at least for children who have ADHD and are teenagers (at least biologically. look up 30% rule re ADHD. see here, here or here. maybe applies to those who are teenagers functionally, i.e. 18.57 - 27.14 years old) : How to Stop Arguing and Start Talking with Your ADHD Child which says

You don’t have to like it, but that’s the way it is. It’s the same way at work when you have a supervisor you don’t like. You still have to do what they say because they’re the one in charge.

  • (ADHD is not really relevant to this post, but I mention ADHD stuff in round bracket remarks since I actually got this idea from an ADHD-related article)
  1. It seems to be a bad strat for children who are 6 years old:

See the 1st version here for the ff question: How to stop my 6 year-old son from running away and crying when faced with a homework challenge?. The 1st revision says

no employer would ever put up with this sort of behavior.

Also see these comments:

  • No employer in an advanced nation would hire a six-year-old, either, so that aspect of your evaluation has no merit. Also, this is a behavior you find problematic, not a behavioral problem (yet.) As @Joe said, this is normal in many kids.

  • Hopefully you already understand this, but "suck it up" is literally worse than useless—it actually teaches harmful things, such as "feelings are bad" and "don't try to approach situations differently" and "you either can or you can't". We want people to understand that feelings are (sometimes challenging but) natural and fine to have, that we really can make plans that are tailored to different challenges, and that we learn and grow and get better by taking on things that seem difficult.

  • leeand00 (the OP) says:

    • @GregMartin In the past I've drunk coffee to get over my feelings. If I sat around and listened to my feelings all day, I'd be homeless, because that's the way the system works, it's do what your told or go find a new job! It doesn't matter what I feel, I'm not some billionaire. – leeand00 6 hours ago

    • @GregMartin And that's exactly how someone who employs my son some day will see it. It's not cause I want to be mean; it's to prepare him for how things work. Everything sucks and that's the way it's always been, that's not gonna change. I know this sounds negative, but I've never seen things improve, they just don't. – leeand00 6 hours ago

    • @GregMartin Things only ever get more difficult, the rich get richer and you just have to put up with it; there's nothing else you can do. – leeand00 6 hours ago

  • I dunno...that's the reasoning my grandma used to work my mom like a slave and exploit every opportunity my mom could find. I believe she literally said once something along the lines of "my making her suffer is actually good for her because it is just preparing her for life's suffering." Are you trying to teach your son? Or are you trying to acclimate him to how much life can suck? There's a difference

  1. Idk. To me, it seems like those things like 'you're not allowed to be depressed because other people have it worse'.

  2. About young child vs teenager, maybe 'age of reason' (a term in Catholic canon law) is relevant: it's a good strat when children are of the age of reason but a bad strat when not yet of the age of reason

Question: When/How is it a good strat to compare parents to supervisors/bosses/employers when parents have a discussion/disagreement/argument/debate with their children?

  • Note 1 re when: I don't think it's never a good strat, but I also think...

  • Note re how: ...that whenever it can be a good strat, it will end up a bad strat if executed incorrectly. I think the relevant folklores here are 'It's Not What You Say, It's How You Say It' and that Maya Angelou quote 'I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.'

  • Note 2 re when: I don't mean time of day or year only necessarily. I mean how old, in what circumstances (of the family, of the issue/s, of how deep the discussion/disagreement/argument/debate is, etc), etc.

  • Your post doesn't seem to have a question that meets our site requirements (see our tour and How to Ask pages for details. It has a number of possible discussion points - but this is not a discussion forum, so that would be off topic.
    – Rory Alsop
    Jan 10, 2021 at 15:59
  • @Joe what is your opinion of that dxh has answered this post?
    – BCLC
    May 12, 2021 at 14:48
  • @RoryAlsop what is your opinion of that dxh has answered this post?
    – BCLC
    May 12, 2021 at 14:48
  • Someone answering a question does not mean that question is on topic for this site.
    – Rory Alsop
    May 13, 2021 at 6:45

1 Answer 1


I occasionally resort to comparisons to the workplace, to help parents reflect on how they're seen through the child's eyes. Many adults have a boss who is an authority over them, and that is in some regards the closest thing to a parent that they can relate to.

Bosses, like parents over children, to some extent decide over employees. When we're yelling, or exacting punishment, it might help to ask ourselves how we'd feel about a boss treating us that way to have their way. Is that a good strategy to make us yield, or will it mostly build resentment? If we find that our family is more like a military academy than an office space, what does that tell us?

Now, the employer and the parent are both adults. I do not think, in either of your examples, that an employee is a good proxy for a child. An parent is obliged to provide for their children, whereas an employee can be required to meet some demands in order to receive salary. An employee also chooses their vocation and their workplace, and can decide to leave if they don't like the boss.

None of the same dynamics are at play, so we should be careful with comparisons. But the same basic concept of human interaction applies. I use it only as a proxy for authority figures, because I find it helps adults see how their actions are received.

  • thanks dxh! wait you said 'An parent is obliged to provide for their children, whereas an employee can be required to meet some demands in order to receive salary' but you say 'I occasionally resort to comparisons to the workplace'. What's going on please? you mean you use comparisons when you talk to children who are adults rather than children who are not yet adults?
    – BCLC
    Jan 10, 2021 at 8:21
  • 1
    @BLCL: an analogy always breaks down somewhere, so you always need to mind how you use it. I try to elaborate on that in my last paragraph in the answer. I use the comparison when I talk to other parents: "how would it make you feel if your boss grabbed and forced you to the lunch room at noon, ignoring your protests that you had just a few things to finish up before you were ready for lunch?"
    – dxh
    Jan 10, 2021 at 22:41
  • right thanks dxh!
    – BCLC
    May 13, 2021 at 7:21

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.