Roadhouse Parenting. The Zen of Dalton

In 1989, the world was given Roadhouse.  Directed by Rowdy Herrington (with a name like that, who better to direct this movie) and starring Patrick Swayze as Dalton.  A bar bouncer who is tough as titanium nails dipped in fire from a dragon’s belly but able to wax philosophic at a moment’s notice. If Descartes and John Rambo could somehow defy human anatomical laws and have a kid, that butt-kicking kid would be Dalton.

In Roadhouse, Dalton is faced with the uneasy task of turning round the Double Deuce. A bar so seedy and rundown, even the Mos Eisley Band, Figrin D’an and the Modal Nodes, wouldn’t play there.  Dalton kicks, punches, drinks coffee, philosophizes, and rips throats out along the way to getting the Deuce back on its feet again.

As an 80’s action/thriller, Roadhouse does not disappoint. So you might saying, “Yeah Jimmy, we know Roadhouse is a totally awesome movie and we have already attempted to rip out Dave from Human Resources’ throat to see if it is possible, but what does that have to do with parenting?”  I’m glad you asked.  Just because Dalton’s forte is cleaning up dive bars and having his hands registered as lethal weapons doesn’t mean his philosophical nuggets of wisdom don’t hold truths for exhausted parents as much as they do for his fellow coolers, Kelly Lynch, 40-year old adolescents, felons, power drinkers and trustees of modern chemistry.

What every parent looks and feels like most days

What every parent looks and feels like most days

Parents are always looking for guidance. A little assistance with the tiny Brad Wesley’s you have running around your house. While you could employ Dalton’s more violent path to getting them in the tub and in to bed before midnight, I am looking at his deeper side (we’ll save the sweeping leg kick as a last resort) as a path to parental assistance.

*If you want to add to the effect of this, read while listening to a Jeff Healy album

  1.  “My way…or the highway” What every bouncer and parent need to do in order to maintain some semblance of order in their establishments is to lay down the ground rules. The last thing you need is one of your coolers skimming from the top or your daughter thinking its ok to put Styrofoam in the toaster.  And more than rules, your kids need to know that you make the rules.  The sooner this mantra is adopted as scripture in to your house, the easier it will be to maintain the order later on in life.
  2. “Pain don’t hurt”  You have two choices after your kid falls off his scooter and leaves the first two layers of his epidermis from his knee on the sidewalk.  You can panic and show the fear in your eyes which will inevitably lead to your child sobbing and screaming or you can resist the urge to call the paramedics and not make a big deal out of it which will lead to a little bit of Bactine, a Band-Aid on the wound, a kiss to make it feel better and your son or daughter getting back on the scooter.  We know it hurts and so do they. Dalton knew the knife slice he took above the 6th rib hurt as much as scraping your knee if you happen to be 7.  The trick is telling yourself and your kids, pain don’t hurt.
  3. “I want you to be nice until it’s time to not be nice”  It is quite easy to start snapping arms and legs at the first sign of the drunk at table 6 getting out of control but you want to avoid an all-out brouhaha if you can.  Freaking out at every little thing will start to desensitize your little angel to the point where they won’t even hear you as you rant on a tirade because they shaved the dog with a Bic.  You have to save the rage for the right moments.  Being nice, even when your kids are expecting a tsunami of rage to burst forth, puts more fear in to them because now you have become unpredictable. Unpredictable can be scary. So how will you know when it’s time to not be nice? Use your instincts.
  4. “It’ll get worse before it gets better” This is especially true for new parents.  You think getting 45 minutes of sleep a night is tough?  Wait until you get 45 minutes of sleep a night added on to your kids learning to walk, and grab, and turn knobs, and eat things, not have their diaper on right after a dinner of strained peas, throw up on you, and walk in on you and your spouse during the 5 minutes you had planned out for ‘Mommy and Daddy Fun Time’.  The good news is, and what Dalton reminds us of is, it will get better.  Unfortunately, with a 10 year old and a 7 year old running around my house, I’m not quite sure when it gets better, probably after they move out.
  5. “One, never underestimate your opponent.”  The worst thing you can do is figure the skinny guy who can’t be more than 5’2” poses no trouble to your well-being. Next thing you know, he’s busted a beer bottle off of your head and using your spleen as a punching bag.  Just when you think, I can go in to the living room for a minute because my baby doesn’t know how to open the door to the basement, he’s not only opened the door but he’s halfway down the flight of open stairs carrying your cup of hot coffee you left on the counter.  They are smarter than you think (or hope as you are trying to justify to yourself why its ok to leave them alone for a minute).
  6. “Two, take it outside” The last thing you want to do is start a drunken riot in a bar where pool sticks, bottles, and sharp utensils abound.  You want open spaces and less chances of having to get stitches because some roughneck’s girlfriend bounced a cue ball of your dome.  And the last thing you want to do is watch as your son or daughter begins to have a hair on fire Amanda Bynes type meltdown in the middle of the Pastor’s sermon or as your appetizers are being served at the restaurant.  That’s a brush fire you can’t quell with dry Cheerios and funny faces.  Take it outside and diffuse the situation…which means you’ll most likely be going home.


    I would rip your throat out but I’ll try rocking you to sleep tonight

  7. “I’ll get all the sleep I need when I’m dead” Ok, so Wade Garrett said this, not Dalton, but is there a better parallel between this and being a parent that has ever been spoken?  The answer is ‘no’. I don’t care what anyone quotes from Dr. Phil, Dr. Spock, Rikki Lake or  Parenting is a full time job with no timecard or vacation time because you’re on duty 24 hours a day 7 days a week.  We’ll sleep later. Or just pass out.

Being a parent is not easy.  It means caring, worrying, fearing, stitching, rooting, handling, diffusing, moderating, mediating, arbitrating, disciplining, cleaning up after, staying up with, hugging, kissing, and loving our kids.  You had better be as tough as a bar bouncer or at least have his words of wisdom at our disposal.


The Beginning
About jetts31

Husband, father to two girls, dog walker, living with male pattern baldness. In addition to writing on his own site, Jimmy contributes to DadsRT,, and the Southern Berks News. He is the world record holder in his house for 'Best Hiding Spot' during Hide and Go Seek.

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  1. Jimmy, there are no words to describe the genius of this post…

    I’ll put away the knife tipped boots for now and give these 7 bits of advice a go.

  2. Straight up freaking brilliant! Any nod to Roadhouse is awesome anyway but the link to parenting philosophy, epic. This is the kind of post all the rest of read and think, “Damn why didn’t I think of that!”

    Really nice!

    • jetts31 says:

      Thanks. It was fun to write.

  3. Incredibly well written and hilarious with solid parenting advice as the foundation. I’m humbled to write for the same website that you do, Jimmy. Awesome stuff.

  4. Goddamn I love this post. Should have taken BradTheDad’s advice and read it a couple days ago. :>)
    We just gotta hope that our kids don’t find Roadhouse the next time it’s on TBS. They just might hear and follow Dalton’s advice. “Take the biggest guy in the world, shatter his knee and he’ll drop like a stone.”

  5. Andrea says:

    This is the best. Who knew Roadhouse would so ably define the rules of parenting? And I haven’t even seen the movie. I KNOW.

    This made my day:

    “And the last thing you want to do is watch as your son or daughter begins to have a hair on fire Amanda Bynes type meltdown in the middle of the Pastor’s sermon or as your appetizers are being served at the restaurant. That’s a brush fire you can’t quell with dry Cheerios and funny faces. Take it outside and diffuse the situation…which means you’ll most likely be going home.”

This is what I think...