My mother immediately got me a subscription to Parents Magazine the day I told her I was pregnant with my first child. I remember thinking it was a rather odd gift, as I already knew everything there was to know about parenting, (as do all people who’ve never actually raised a child).
But eventually I concluded it couldn’t hurt to thumb through the mag every month – if for no other reason than to clip the diaper coupons.
That’s how I happened to stumble across a particularly life-changing article about “saying no” to one’s children. The author of the article warned young parents against being overly negative with their children. It suggested trying to eliminate the word “no” from your parenting vocabulary – replacing it with more affirming responses.
I fell for this hard, y’all. I was all in. Here was a concept that completely meshed with my naturally positive personality.
Besides, who wants to raise their family in a culture of negativity? Not me – that’s for sure! The word “no” hit the trash pile right alongside the shoulder-padded business suits I wouldn’t be needing as I headed into the 1990s. (Or ever, as it turns out.)
Here’s how it works –
Your child asks: “Mommy, can I have a Popsicle?
You say: “You sure can! Right after you eat all your green beans!”
Your Little Darling inquires: “Mommy can I ride a giraffe?”
You respond: “You betcha! As soon as you finish up at university, you can apply for your Zoo Keeper’s License and then you will have a trillion opportunities to ride the giraffes. Probably even the elephants and zebras too!”
You get the idea. This is a parenting skill any fool can master. Once you get the hang of it, it starts to flow naturally. You’ll become be a total Yes-Mom.
Remember, it’s not as much about “keeping it real,” as it is about “keeping it realmy.” In the realm of possibility – you know, to avoid killing their wee little dreams.
It wasn’t long before I realized this not only worked with young children, it worked like a charm with young husbands too. As in…
Your Husband suggests something you have absolutely no intention of ever doing:
You respond: “Yes, Honey, that sounds so fun! We will definitely take a look at doing that one day!”
I’m pretty sure from the late 80s through the first decade of the new millennium-
Be careful not to confuse this particular parenting theory with the “Permissive Parenting” movement that swept the country a few decades earlier. This doesn’t mean you can’t be strict and have standards. My kids weren’t running wild, doing things they ought not, per se. They were just running around unrealistically optimistic and ever-hopeful.
There’s only one little catch – it turns out, most of the parenting advice I read back in the day, was geared towards ambitious, energetic, enthusiastic young parents. (People whose offspring proffer tiny non-threatening, manageable toddler-esque requests.)
But, two interesting things happen as our kids hit their tweens, teens and twenties that start to render all this positivity a little less manageable.
A) Parents get worn out and start to lose their elasticity, just as…
B) The kids’ requests get more outrageous over time.
I mean, sure, your kid can cut the dog’s hair some day or ride his tricycle to Mars, but there’s no way in Hell he’s throwing a Beer Bash for 150 of his closest friends in your home.
So, eventually you’ll start to notice yourself turning into that Negative Parent you swore you’d never be…slipping in the occasional head shake, a “nuh–uh” or perhaps even an actual, “ummm…Not No – but Hell No!” When your kid (completely unaccustomed to this unfamiliar vibe) gets a whiff of your bad attitude, he/she may become disoriented, disillusioned and confused.
Then, I guess the proverbial crap could hit the fan.
I never did run across any articles that advised what to do when that happens. But I did clip a ton of coupons that gave me $1.00 off a box of wipes with purchase of a 64-count box of Huggies.