I was browsing in the parenting section of the book store last week and found a book titled "Negotiation Generation". I think it is a pretty accurate label for our generations' parenting style.
My pet peeve is the expression "Pick your battles" that I hear parents say over and over.
While I do agree that you cannot make every issue a "battle" and leave a child feeling powerless or "unheard", I firmly believe that once you have issued a directive (not a request!) to your child, they need to know that it is a non-negotiable.
If I have told my child that it is time to go to bed or that "no", they cannot have a friend over to play on a particular day, they need to know that is not up for debate.
If everything is up for debate, then EVERYTHING is a battleground. You have far more battles when your child feels that you are unsure of your parental authority.
We are a culture that strongly emphasizes an individual's rights. Fantastic. We are, however, remiss if we do not prepare our children for a world where they will need to submit to authority.
If I told my boss that my opinion carried the same weight as his/hers does, I would quickly find myself in employment peril. If I fail to follow the rule of law, I will find myself in legal peril - whether I agree with the law or not!
This clearly defined parent/child relationship places more responsibility on both parent and child. The child needs to find appropriate ways to discuss an issue with their parent - proper time, place, tone of voice.
On the other hand, the parent needs to think clearly about the "whys" of their decisions so that they can be resolved in those parenting decision (and not answer too quickly). They also need to provide an opportunity for their child to share their feelings or frustrations about those "rules".
Rather than raising defiant children who challenge your every decision, you will be encouraging a respectful attitude and problem solving qualities in your child.