ATSP ED Newsletter term 2 2016


A mother was going out for tea with a friend, accompanied by her young child. As she was keen to assure her friend that she was a good parent, she sat down with her child beforehand and reminded him how he must always be polite, always say “Please” and “Thank you”. The time with her friend went beautifully and her young boy acted impeccably. The hostess offered her some more tea and cakes which she declined with exaggerated politeness and then the hostess offered the young boy some more cake. “No,” he replied bluntly. His mother tilted her head and gave him the motherly stare followed by the somewhat more stern and menacing, “No what, Johnny…?” His response was quick and heartfelt. “No fear!”

The one thing that I am persuaded the most about parents nowadays is that they have a serious fear of saying “No” to their children, be they toddlers, children or teenagers. Maybe it is because they are scared of being seen in a bad light by their children or maybe even by their friends whom they too are trying to impress. Maybe they fear the tears and the tantrums that might follow a “No”, the sulks and the silence, the rants and the rebellion, the accusations, the screaming, the pouting, the fluttering eyelashes, the protruding bottom lip, the “Pleeeeeee-ase?” before the age-old “My friends’ parents let them”, the “You don’t want me to have fun”, the “That’s just typical of you!” The fact is, the role of a parent is not to be popular, “cool” or “hip” – it is to be responsible, forward-thinking, wise. We must not be struck down by the “disease to please”.

Understand this: Children want boundaries and need boundaries. They respect a “No” far more than a “Yeah, whatever!” It does help to give a good reason, beyond the standard “Because I said so”. It does help to explain it all beforehand, so they do not need to ask, to avoid you saying “No”. “No” does not need to be “No way!” or “Not in a million years” or “Not when I am alive”. “No” can just be “No.” No, you cannot go to the nightclub at your age. No, you cannot drive the Mercedes. No, you are not going to that school just because your friends are going there. No, you will not use that language in our house. No, you may not wear that dress. No, you may not have the latest iphone. No, you cannot skip our family visit to go to the cinema. No, you must face the consequences of your misbehaviour at school yourself. No, I will not write you an excuse note for skipping sport.

You are not being a negative person by saying “No”; you are actually being positive by preparing them for a future – they need to grasp that they do not, and will not, always get what they want. Your job is to set the limit, not to control how your child feels about it or reacts to it. And when you say “No”, make sure you mean it. You have the responsibility to raise your child the best way. You are the authority. Parenthood is not a dictatorship but neither is it a democracy. It will mean you must say “No” at times for the good of your child.

Parents, please: Have no fear to say “No”, politely, respectfully, firmly. Thank you.

Do note the ATS Parents Association have their AGM on 11 th June at 10:00 at the ATS offices.

Strength to you as you fulfil your responsibilities.