Parents who battled online for Taylor Swift and Coldplay tickets over the past fortnight must remember that ‘it is OK to say no’ to your children.
On Newstalk Breakfast this morning, parenting expert Sheila O’Malley said many parents have forgotten that disappointment is part of growing up.
She said good parenting is all about setting boundaries – and remembering that there is more to life than what you can purchase for your children.
“Setting boundaries means saying yes to what is good, within reason, and saying no to what is not good, within reason,” she said.
“That means I have to set the limit. I have to draw the line.”
She noted that the most important thing for children is love and attention.
“Children are in danger of having all their wants met but none of their needs,” she said.
“We know, in terms of parenting, what is important. It is the number one thing. Eight minutes of one-on-one time makes a child feel loved, valued and secure.
“I often say, ‘What do kids need more than anything else?’ It is four letters, it starts with ‘T’ and it is time.”
"We want gritty kids"
Ms O’Malley said modern parents seem to want to totally remove disappointment from children’s lives.
“I want to make the point loud and clear to parents, it is OK to say no,” she said.
“We want gritty kids. We want kids that can bounce back. We know that life is tough and we know that over COVID, mental health took a hit.
“The reality is we are doing too much for them. You know, we’re rushing in.
“I’ve gone into shops only recently and been told that, people who are in maybe their third year in college, that the parents are ringing up about their 22 or 21-year-old or whatever.
“Managers are saying, ‘No parent should be ringing up here, why is this parent ringing up?’ I hear it in the universities as well.”
Ms O’Malley said the two main reasons she hears from parents who struggle to say no is that they feel overwhelmed and that they feel guilty because of a lack of work/life balance.
She said saying yes all the time will do your children no favours.
“The biggest thing we have to do as a parent is enable our children,” she said.
“If we enable our children, it means we are sending them out prepared for life.
“A lack of doing that means a parent puts bubble wrap around the child and before the child goes out into the adult world, they whip off the bubble wrap and they send that child out totally ill-prepared – because you have had mummy or daddy speaking up for you at every turn.”
You can listen back here: