Saying No

Strictly parenting Aussie parents are doing a crap job with their kids. Not my words – but those of Dr. Michael Carr-Gregg in his new book, Strictly Parenting.

My hackles rose the minute I read “crap job”. I’m an Aussie parent and this was a slap in the face. My husband and I, like most of our friends who are parents, go above and beyond trying to be good parents. But therein lies the rub. Apparently, we’re doing too much.

In one of the book’s chapter’s titled ‘The Unfortunate Rise of Crap Parenting’, Carr-Gregg talks about the the “dysfunctional, over-involved parenting styles that have emerged in the past two decades”. He says there is a “Vitamin ‘N’ deficiency in Australian parenting” and we parents should “learn to say no”.

We’re almost afraid of what will happen when we say “No” to our kids. We don’t want to disappoint them, so we give into to their every whim.
Guilty as charged. When it comes to my kids, I’m a bit of a pushover.

Picture this. It’s pick-up time after school.
“Mum, can we have a treat?”
One day, it’s some mini-Dutch pancakes from the school canteen.
The next, an almond croissant from the bakery nearby.
When it’s sweltering hot, it’s icy pole time.

I thought I was pre-empting the situation by bringing along some snacks from home (instead of buying them from the shops) – some muffins I’d baked or a packet of Oreos.

But this was back-firing. They now expected me to have something to munch on the way back home every single day.
So I changed tacks.
“You can have a cup of milk and a couple of biscuits when we reach home in ten minutes.”
This met with initial protests of “But we’re hungry!” to which I replied, “You can finish your leftovers from recess then…”


I guess it’s natural to want to give our children everything – opportunities and avenues that many of us didn’t have when we were growing up. But when we do this, it can lead to our kids expecting the world on a platter. A platter that shatters into a million fragments the minute someone else says no. Reality is too harsh and our kids can’t deal with disappointment.

So let’s learn to set boundaries and take over the reigns. You’re the parent – you know best. Make rules and enforce them. It will teach them resilience. It will teach them respect. It will teach them to grow up.

So tell me, what kind of parents did you have growing up – Authoritative? Nurturing? Easy-going? Absent? Was one parent the polar opposite of the other? And did you use this to your advantage? 😉

2 responses to “Saying No

  1. It’s not about saying no. It’s a bit militant and old fashioned to say that teaching the kids “no” is the good way of parenting. Rather, you have to look at what that no represents. For instance, your after-school snack example is about teaching the kids to have patience.

    The problem with the “Say No to become a better parent” is that essentially, it is telling parents to become empowered by that word, by gaining power in denying your children. This is subscribing to the old-fashion mentality that enforcing strict discipline = good parenting. I’m not about to gain my confidence or feel my superiority over my child because I can say no.

    It is not my job as a parent to teach children about the limitations of life, but to me, it is my job to show them about how to choose between the many different options in life and the possible consequences.

    I guess I’m making pre-judgement about the author and his thoughts on this, but from the sounds of it, well, I can’t agree (already) to what has been said so far by him.

    And to say that Australians are doing a crap job – well – hello, let’s look at America. Toys and costumes go out of sale within seconds and that parents will pay over $1,000 for a stupid disney $50 outfit because they don’t want to disappoint their kids……


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