Like most children, my own brood complains constantly about my style of parenting. ‘You’re always saying “No”,’ they complain, as I tell them they can’t have yet more mayonnaise on their dinner.
By Lucy Cavendish
18th May 2011
‘It’s bad for you,’ I say. ‘So, no, you can’t.’
‘You say no to everything,’ says Leonard, aged eight.
He and his younger siblings — Jerry, six, and Ottoline, three — then list everything I have said ‘No’ to since they got home from school. Sweets, playing outside with their uniform on, biscuits, getting stuff out from the dressing up-drawer, painting …
I’ve always considered myself a pretty easy-going parent, and yet here they are telling me I’m a nay-saying harridan.
According to the currently fashionable idea of ‘free parenting’, though, what I should be saying is ‘Yes’.
There are various blogs and websites devoted to the notion that we should give our children free choice, and, in this way, encourage their development while at the same time teaching them responsibility.
Only this week, Dr Bryan Caplan from George Mason University in Virginia, U.S., said parents should ‘cut themselves some slack’ and stop trying to control every aspect of their children’s lives.
He called for a relaxed and fun style of bringing up children — dubbed ‘serenity parenting’ — which involves us taking a backseat role.