Before I had children, I always liked the theory of being a ‘yes’ parent. It seemed logical that if you could say yes to most things, when you had to say ‘no’, it would really mean something. Sure I was open to tomato sauce on porridge, and sleeping under the bed rather than on top of it, but once my children arrived I got a little demoralised by the number of times I said the word no.
When I stared working at The Parenting Place I picked up the gem of saying, “Yes, when…” “Yes, you can go next door and play, when you have done your homework.” “Yes, you can have ice cream for dessert, when all that broccoli is eaten up.”
That works lots of the time, but sometimes I feel as if I’m the fun police. My role is making sure that everyone gets out of the house, on time, with everything they need, or in bed, nice and clean, at a reasonable time, and it means I have to give lots of orders.
So I love it when I can give a complete, unconditional yes, to a slightly oddball request. Like last week, when my son asked if he could paint his LEGO mini figures in glow in the dark paint. The look on his face said, “I know you’re going to say ‘no’.” The look on his face when I said ‘yes’ was simply lovely. (I tried not to take control of the project, but couldn’t help suggesting he chose figures he already had two of).
He went to sleep surrounded by glowing friends, which was a wonderfully friendly sight.