Parenting: Yes and No

All most parents want is to give their children a happy life.  I understand that completely.   You believe that if you keep your child happy then your child will feel loved and cared for.   So you make sure your child stays happy.  You do whatever it takes.  Or maybe you don’t want to make a scene.  It is embarrassing to be in public with a crying, screaming child.  Or maybe you believe that the crying releases hormones or chemicals in the brain that are detrimental to your child’s development.

Of course many parents could find reasons to keep children happy; life is easier for everyone that way.  So when you hear, “Can we have candy for dinner?”  you add a little sweet beside the vegetables.  After awhile your child wants only candy minus the vegetables.  Or if your child wants to watch a particular television show, your immediate answer is always “sure” even when there’s something you’d prefer to watch.  I’m the adult, you think, I can wait.

How could this be a problem?  I’m telling you it is a huge problem; a growing problem that needs to be stopped.  Young children in their formative years who have every situation moulded to fit their desires begin to believe that they are more important than anyone else.  They begin to expect that everyone will do their bidding.  Parents who keep their children happy by going to great lengths are doing children a disservice.  How will these children cope with problems or people who disagree with their views?  What if these children grow up and expect everyone to give them exactly what they want no matter how unreasonable?

I’m not suggesting that you say “no” to a child at every turn just to help them cope with adversity.  That’s not what I’m saying at all.  There are times in life; however when things do not go our way.  Maybe we can’t find a parking spot or we have to wait in a really long line at the grocery store.  These are small problems and of course there are much bigger ones that children will eventually need to deal with as they grow up.  So allow your children to face problems and conflicts that naturally arise. Somewhere along the way, other people will say no to your child.  Some day your child may try out for the school team and be told “no”  you’re not good enough.  Or some day your daughter may be alone with her boyfriend and say, “No, I don’t want to sleep with you”.  Hopefully, he has been raised to respect others rather than to believe that everyone must keep him happy at all costs.

People need to learn to respect the word “no”.  They need to be able to take “no” for an answer.  And the whole concept of that word begins with you as a parent.  If you cannot teach your child to respect the word no, then do you expect them to learn this from someone else?  You are your child’s first and most powerful teacher.  The responsibility lies with you.  Do not move heaven and earth to placate your child.  Think of the person you want your child to become and help guide them to grow into that person.  Its up to you.

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