By Frank Lowe
Originally published on Advocate.com April 07 2014 11:05 AM ET
“Daddy can we go to Chuck E. Cheese this Saturday?”
“No. We just went last week.”
“But Daddy, I want to go again this week!!!!”
“No, and keep pushing it and we’ll never go back again.”
“BUT DADDY, I WANT TO GO TO CHUCK E. CHEESE.”
“Tough. Not only are we not going to Chuck E. Cheese this week, but we aren’t going for a while because you kept begging after I said no.”
*kid shuts up*
This is a typical dialogue from my house. It is actually a script, sort of, because you could substitute the words “Chuck E. Cheese” for practically anything my 4½-year-old’s heart desires. Truth to be told, he’s spoiled, and I’ve had to tighten up with the “nos” over the last year to try and teach him to appreciate what he has. So far it’s working, but I am still having trouble getting my husband on board. See, I firmly believe you have “yes” parents and “no” parents. I was a former “yes” parent who transitioned into a “no” parent, and I’m not looking back.
“Yes” parents are very easily identified. They are the ones who constantly look stressed because they are constantly meeting the demands of their children. Remember Veruca Salt from Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory? She was the girl who only heard “yes” for all of her outlandish demands, and eventually that determined her fate and she was kicked out of the factory. Her poor father was weak to her requests and he just followed along behind her, with his tail between his legs. Not a pretty picture. I know “yes” parents and their children are turning into Veruca Salt–like monsters. They know no limits and think their shit doesn’t stink. These kids actually scare me because I fear they will grow into adults who still think they can get whatever they want and will take down anyone who gets in their way.
When we first adopted our child, I wanted to give him the entire world. Hell, I still do. For the first couple of years, we spoiled him like he was Blue Ivy Carter. The clothes, the toys, the bedazzled binkies; it was endless. Then when he hit 3, we started to notice the effect it was having. He truly felt he could have anything he wanted. More importantly, he would completely lose his shit if he didn’t get it. That’s when I turned things around and started to put my designer-shoed foot down. I wanted him to realize that when he pitched a fit or threw a tantrum, the opposite of what he wanted would happen. At first, I was met with more resistance. One year later, and he definitely knows to not push it. Mission accomplished.
I’ve proudly become a “no” parent. So much so, that I actually enjoy saying “no” now. Go ahead and judge me for it, and say that I’m mean and relentless. That shit will go in one ear and out the other because my kid is starting to appreciate the value of things. “No” has become a very powerful word in my house, and my husband is just now catching on. I feel as though our kid will be miles ahead of the “yes” kids because “no” is much more reality-based. Looking at Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory again, the main character, Charlie, was poor and “no” was all he ever head. One might say that because he didn’t feel so privileged, he went on to become the heir to the chocolate factory, so he came out the best of all of them. My kid isn’t getting a damn chocolate factory, but I will still give him the world; one “no” at a time.
FRANK LOWE is The Advocate’s parenting writer. Follow Frank on Twitter @GayAtHomeDad and on Instagram at gayathomedad.