Thursday, March 2, 2017

A pretty loaded word in the parenting world. 

In my post about lazy parenting
I mentioned I'd been overusing "no," 
and a commenter pointed out that some parents are afraid to use the word "no," 
which I absolutely agree with! 

There are are, in fact, several types of no in my parenting book.

There are life-threatening NOs
as in, if you don't listen to me, you may actually die

1. No, you cannot run away in the parking lot. 
2. No don't touch the red-hot stove. 
3. No don't eat that poisonous berry on that bush. 

Then there are NOs about maintaining parenting authority
and even more important is following through on those NOs. 
This is the area I think the commenter was mentioning that kids don't hear "no" enough. 
Because we parents are tired and just want to get on with life. 

1. No, you do not get to buy a toy at Target.
2. No, I'm not going to make you a special meal for dinner. 
3. No, you cannot watch another Paw Patrol. 

Then there are control/OCD-NOs*
the ones that keep kids from experiencing life. 
Because it may be messy, inconvenient, 
(using Amanda's words below) "disrupt my sense of order"), 
or (Natasha's words below) "people will judge me." 
When I said I was overusing "no," this was the category I was referring to. 

1. No you cannot climb the tree. 
2. No you cannot play in the mud. 
3. No you cannot collect sticks in our yard. 

*Originally I called this "helicopter-parenting NO" 
but I agree with Amanda and Natasha that it's much more of a "controlling" NO

Now, there is obviously a lot of controversy in my categories above. 
Some people would rearrange my NO-examples with the categories. 
Some people would argue that the Control/OCD NO is a good no. 
I feel like it isn't. 

I wrote a few posts back about battles I pick with my kids
and one of them being "matching clothes." 
Or at least "presentable clothing." 
I still make Aaron wear jeans to daycare (easier to clean), 
and dress shirts to parties/dinners, 
but I'm trying to start easing up on the everyday clothes. 
Controlling wardrobe without good reason other than 
"because I want you to look photo-ready at any time," 
probably falls under helicopter NO. 

So yesterday I took a big step and let Aaron go to the library like this: 

Good news is that he was easy to spot outside. 
Notice the deer in the right side of the shot? 
Aaron shouted: "Reindeer!" 

I'd be curious for anyone else's feedback on NO. 
Would you move around any of my NO categories above? 
Perhaps add a category? 
Not just from a parent's perspective, 
but a professional (teacher?) perspective too!


  1. I have an entirely separate category of "no" that involves control... I guess it's similar to your examples in helicopter parenting, but mine's not necessarily because I'm worried about them getting hurt. It's more because I'm worried about them making a mess or otherwise disrupting the sense of order I've created, ha! "No, I don't need you to help with dinner right now." "No, you can't open the mail." etc. Those are the areas where I am trying to relax and not be so uptight!

  2. I think I would call the category you've labelled "helicopter parenting" NOs, "control parenting" NOs, except for the "climbing the tree" part. That is category I am bad at, including what Amanda mentioned in the comment above. NO -- I feel like people will judge me if you wear non-matching socks. NO -- I want to make your bed so my OCDness doesn't go mental all day with the uneven bedspread.

    I have a friend who I would call a helicopter parent and she doesn't care if her kids' clothes match but she doesn't let do much outside the house without her. Her 16 year old doesn't take the bus alone (because it's not safe) so she drives her everywhere. She's already trying to figure out the best university program for her daughter. That kind of thing is what I think of, when I think about helicopter parenting. (And now I'm trying to remember how she dealt with her kids when they were younger... She wouldn't let her daughter make her own bed because it was "too dangerous" not because of neatness.)

  3. Control Parenting: "You have to wear what I say so you'll be ready for any photo op that comes along. And let's face it, many things we do (pumpkin patch comes to mind) are only for the photo ops." (Think how liberating it would be NOT to have to document everything for social media. If they don't have on cute clothes, you don't have to take the picture!)

    Helicopter Parenting: "You got a B instead of an A? I'm going to call the school and find out what's going on!" "That little girl wasn't nice to you? I'm going to call her mother!" "They put you in a 3-person-dorm room in college? They're going to hear from me!"

    The really Important NOs: "No, you can't let go of my hand while we cross this busy street." "No, you can't go to a co-ed sleepover." (I'm showing my age. Are these even still a thing?) "No, you can't get your driver's license if your grades are bad or we've caught you drinking/smoking pot."

    Let's face it . . . parenting is tough. I'm on the other side but I feel for you who are just beginning. And don't even get me started on social media. My 28 yr old son told me recently that he couldn't imagine how awful it would be to have instagram in middle school. Good luck!