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Saying No to Children

Mommy Dearest: Staying Positive on Negatives

Mommy Dearest,

My son has a friend whom I adore and I quite like his mum and pop, too. He often goes to their house for playdates and slumber parties and always has a good time. The boy's parents, however, refrain from using the words "no" and "don't" around their children. Instead, they choose to redirect them by asking them, "How would you prefer it?" or "What would you like to do instead?" While that may work for some kids, I am a firm believer in old school parenting where "no" and "because I said so" are staples in a parent's arsenal.

Lately, the mom has politely started hinting to me that she would rather I use other words than "no" when her child is playing at our house. I don't want the sweet boy to stop coming over for playdates, but I also don't think my parenting style should be questioned or compromised.

— Mrs. No No

To see the response from Mommy Dearest,


Mrs. No No,

It is impossible for all moms to agree on parenting styles, but they can certainly try to respect one another's techniques — especially when their tot's friendships are at hand. Though asking each other to change philosophies or practices is something very different. You don't question the way she runs her house and she should grant you that same respect.

In the real world, the child is going to hear the word or phrases a million times over outside of his own home — a fact I wouldn't hesitate mentioning that to the mom. You will not be the last adult to look him in the eye and say "no." Truthfully, you might be doing the lad a service by showing him that not everybody will work around him and bend to his desires. And if his mama is uncomfortable with the manner in which you speak with youngsters, perhaps she should be present to discipline, or in this case, even just talk to her child.

— Mommy Dearest

Submit a question for this feature at the Mommy Dearest Group on TeamSugar.

CoralAmber CoralAmber 8 years
I agree with Plus_2_kid. He may be a sweet boy because of her parenting. I also think your parenting is not being called into question. She does things differently for her own reasons, not because she thinks you are wrong. If she was raising her kid kosher would you balk if she asked you to lay off the ham sandwiches? Her request is a little unrealistic, but it's just a request. Tell her that "no" isn't off limits at your house, but you will be willing to try when her kid is around because you like her and her kid so much. That way you are both being tolerant. She has to put up with a few no's, and you try a few "we can't have cookies right now, but if you are hungry I have carrots and apples."
lickety-split lickety-split 8 years
why not hear it on a play date? um, because it's not your call. if you find the other parents small request so disturbing; don't have their child over. why is it a big deal to use the words she asked you to use? kids will find out about the easter bunny and santa too, do you want to include that in your play date fun?
Chouette4u Chouette4u 8 years
I'd like to clarify that I don't think positive parenting or not liking to tell your kids "because I said so" is wacky. I think that asking another parent not to use the word "no" with your child is nuts.
plus_2_kid plus_2_kid 8 years
I don't think the other mom is a whackjob at all BUT I also don't think you should have to change your parenting style at your own home. Do you know how hard it is to stop saying "no"? I wouold laugh it off and say "Well even if I try I'm sure I won't remember!" and leave it at that. If it really really bothers her then she'll stop bringing the child over. But here's a thought: Maybe the little boy is "so sweet" like you describe specifically BECAUSE of her techniques -- maybe you _should_ give it a try!
catchawhale catchawhale 8 years
They other mom isn't a nut job. She is using redirection to increase communication and defuse frustrations for both parents. Redirection is a common practice in most day care facilities. This is not to say that the mother should change her parenting ways but, in many parenting books the new "idea" is to refrain from saying things like "because I said so" because it doesn't teach or explain anything to the child. Where asking there opinion can help to teach and communicate.
Chouette4u Chouette4u 8 years
"perhaps she should be present to discipline, or in this case, even just talk to her child. " Hahahaha. This mother sound like a whackjob to me. If the mom is around and you need to change her son's behavior, just ask her to do it so you don't have to worry about your wording being "appropriate". If she's not around, just talk to him like he's any other child. She can't govern other people's parenting when she isn't around, and it's not like you're hitting him or being verbally abusive. You didn't mention how old your kids are. If he is school age, what does she tell his teacher??? If your kids are not in school yet, I bet once they start she'll let up on this BS.
lickety-split lickety-split 8 years
this isn't about rules, this is about how the adult phrases the rules to the children. is it really a big deal to redirect his behavior rather than say "no"? the mom will come around soon enough, lets face it, we all have to say "no" at some point. there's a child in my middle daughter's class who's mom use to say "we don't have any rules at our house". that was in kindergarten and first grade. this is the end of 4th grade for them and guess who now has been put on restriction????? people change their views as their circumstances change. why fuss over a small thing like use of language?
snarkypants snarkypants 8 years
i say your house, your rules. like mommy dearest said, you will not be the only person to ever say "no" to him!
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