Parenting Without Guilt


Yeah, that’s not gonna happen, but I can do a better job of not feeling guilty for saying “no” and letting my son deal with disappointment.

In Monday’s New York Times, author Liz Galst explores the pros and cons of traveling parents bringing home gifts to their children. As a flight attendant and parent this article resonated with me. I know first hand the expectations I created for my own child when I regularly brought him a gift from my travels, and for a flight attendant that can get really out of control – I mean we travel for a living!

But what really stuck with me in the Jan., 3 article, What Gift To Bring A Child, was the quote about preparing children to deal with hard times:

“We have this notion that we should protect children from hard times like these,” said Ms. Galinsky of the Families and Work Institute. “But children wouldn’t learn how to be grown-ups if they didn’t learn to deal with hard things,” including a parent’s temporary absence.

When I was a new parent (and my son was younger and couldn’t talk) I did a better job at letting him experience disappointment. However now that he is four, talks a good game and understands the real meaning of “no” I’m pathetic at it!

And I don’t know why. I keep wondering if it’s because I hate for him to be sad and disappointed, or because I don’t want to deal with the hassle of his complaints or because I learned it from my mom – who is really bad at saying no.

Maybe it’s all of the above. Either way I am doing him a disservice and I agree with Ms. Galinsky, that giving a child the tools to deal with adversity is a gift.

I am a former board member for North Central Parenting Group (NCPG), a parenting group that hires child psychologists, child care experts and educators so I should know better than to say yes for the wrong reasons. I also have the resources to help me make better parenting choices.

Still I give in.

But in my research on corporate responsibility for my article in Green Living AZ Magazine‘s February edition I came across book I bought the year my son was born, Born To Buy, by author Juliet B. Schor. In her book Schor uncovers the forces behind marketing to kids and how kids end up in the power seat in their homes.

This is something I do not want.

So in keeping with my no-resolutions way of doing things, I am stopping saying yes to everything because it’s easier than a fight. I’ll have to be better at planning out what is important to say no to and stick with it. Even if I am wrong, being consistent with my son is better for him in the long run. This way I know I am teaching him how to cope and prepare for that boss, client or teacher that says no to him, because they will – it’s part of life.


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