Latest parenting fad: Yes parenting

By Drum Digital
11 April 2014

Mothers don’t enjoy feeling as if they’re always spoiling the fun in their children’s lives. Continually hearing yourself say “no” to everything your children want can make you feel it’s time to try a parenting style that will make you more popular. Some mothers are so reluctant to say “no” they’ve cut the word completely from their vocabulary and say “yes” to everything.

“Yes-parenting” is the latest parenting fad, but experts warn this can turn children into spoilt brats.

Bea Marshall, a mom of two who lives in England, says this parenting style is the answer. She maintains her sons, Peep (9) and Joss (7), are growing up independent because they make their own choices about what they eat, wear and say.

Are you a yes-mom?

Bea allows her children to swear, watch TV all night, have ice cream for breakfast and cut electrical wires with a pair of scissors. Although all cases aren’t as extreme as Bea’s, you’re a yes-mom if you:

  • Say yes to keep the peace because you’re afraid of your children’s tempers.
  • Allow your children to make decisions that require adult insight.
  • Say yes even in cases where your children’s safety may be threatened, such as when playing in dangerous places or fiddling with electrical wires.

How can I be less indulgent?

Jenny Perkel, a Cape Town psychologist, says children are treated as if they’re the centre of the universe when they’re babies. “It’s natural and normal to satisfy a baby’s every need,” she says. But as children get older it’s the parents’duty to gradually teach their children they’re not the most important people in the world.

She gives the following tips:

  • When your child is a baby it’s appropriate to give it what it wants. A baby’s needs are called “primary narcissism” and are healthy.
  • When your child becomes a toddler you must give them their way only when it’s necessary. This means give in less to their desires and more to their needs, such as food, keeping warm or cool, and security.

Is there merit in sometimes saying yes so your child can learn a lesson?

Perkel says as children get older parents can sometimes consent to children’s requests so they’ll learn to trust a parent’s judgment. For example, you can allow a teenager who wants to stay up late the night before a sports match to stay up late. The next day they’ll discover they’re tired during their match.

Teach your children to trust your judgment:

  • Draw their attention to cases where only an adult’s judgment can identify all the dangers, such as at a busy road where children are too young to notice all the oncoming traffic. Explain to them they must listen to adults because they sometimes notice dangers children miss.
  • If they want to eat something they’re not allowed to, tell them that you, as an adult, are assuring them eating it would be unsafe or a bad idea. The fact that you’re an authority figure should make them realise they should obey you.

What are the pitfalls of yes-parenting?

  • Insecure, irresponsible children because they’ve never been taught what’s dangerous.
  • Children who don’t fit in well with their peer group because they’re used to having their own way.
  • Undisciplined children.
  • Arrogant children who believe their opinions and needs are the most important.

-Mieke Vlok

Sources:, Mail Online

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