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Parents today are obsessed with being "perfect," says Jodi Stoner, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist and coauthor of Good Manners Are Contagious. "Parents are under so much stress these days, working long hours and spending more time out of the house," she says. "When Mom and Dad are home, they want to spend quality time with the kids, and when they have to take time out to discipline, they feel guilty." And that's a dangerous emotion, says Kevin Leman, Ph.D., a family psychologist and author of Have a New Kid by Friday. "Guilt is the propellant for most of the bad decisions parents make. As a result, today's kids are all about 'me, me, me,' and 'gimme.' They are held accountable less and less and have fewer responsibilities in the family. Fewer children today consider others before themselves because they've never been taught to think that way." No wonder experts agree: Discipline is key.
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