In the 1950’s into the early 1960’s rigid, authoritarian parenting was one of the predominant styles of parenting.  Perhaps a function of so many men formerly being in the military, children were often treated like little soldiers who had to march to parental commands (See Robert Duval in “The Great Santini.”) 

Fast forward into the 1990’s and  through to the present day and you will find the pendulum has swung to the other side with many parents embracing “Gumby Parenting,” characterized by NBD (No Backbone Disorder Disorder). 

Gumby parents are fundamentally unable to call their children out on anything. 

Is the child loud in a restaurant?  … “Hey, what’s the problem with you?  It’s a public place and we have our rights?” 

Running wildly down supermarket aisles?… “Why are you so uptight? They’re just letting off steam.” 

Disruptive in the movies? … “Look, buddy, I paid for a ticket too.”

No manners?… “That manners thing was so 20th century.” 

With Gumby Parenting children will have trouble developing an internalized steering mechanism to guide them.  It’s not an easy way to live (for parent or child). 

Like most things in life the middle way, somewhere between rigid and Gumby, shows the answer.  Start early (it’s never too early) showing a backbone when one is needed and leave Gumby in the toy chest.