Greg Ramey is a child psychologist with nearly 30 years of experience counseling families and children at Dayton Children's in Dayton, Ohio. He says the biggest change he's seen is that parents no longer want to act like parents. "Over and over, I see parents who try to be their kids' best friends," he says. "That's a flashing red light. Our kids don't need to be our buddies. They can like us when they're 30. Mostly what kids want is for a parent to be in charge."

The consequences of parental boundary blurring are everywhere. As Vanity Fair recently noted, 2007 is the "year the mothers of Hollywood's wild girls—Paris, Lindsay, and Britney—have found themselves almost as much a part of the tabloid circus as the daughters themselves."

Fortunately, it's never too late to fix the problem. Sharon Pieters sees kids with terrible behavior make the turnaround week after week, and it has everything to do with parenting, she says. The former nanny runs Child Minded, a parent-coaching company that goes into homes to vanquish the Scylla and Charybdis of offspring hell: disrespect and boorishness. For $1,200 a day, Pieters will help parents tame their brats. Whether it's a problem with too much stuff ("I visited some kids in Long Island who had their own moon bounce," Pieters says) or incessant back talk ("Some children's vocabulary is limited to 'Shut up! Shut up! Shut up! Shut up!'"), the solution is the same: "Set limits and stick to them." The hard part for most moms and dads is admitting there's a problem in the first place. Borba, the parenting writer, says, "The last thing parents today want after a day of work is to come home and be a cop. They think it's going to hurt the child's self-esteem to get a hard no. But you have to look at your kids and say, 'Are they turning out the way I want them to turn out?' If not, it's up to you to start to change things."

That takes care of the kids, but what about you? A possible solution comes from Asra Q. Nomani, who recently wrote an essay on Babble about being trapped in a cycle of out-of-control birthday parties, in which she kept trying to outdo the previous year's festivities. Turns out what her kid liked most wasn't the trip in the limo to the recording studio or even the playtime with a real tiger cub. It was the simpler, everyday stuff, the things that any kid's birthday party might include, like a birthday cake. Which makes you realize, the next time your inner douchebag tells you to book Criss Angel for your son's fifth birthday, you might want to take a deep breath and give yourself a hard no.

Do you think it's cute when 4-year-olds opine about Damien Hirst and demand heirloom tomatoes? Sound off below.

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