Monday, January 9, 2012

The No Parent

Hubster tells the boys "yes" a lot. Yes, you can play computer. Yes, you can eat that cookie right before dinner. Yes, you can wear those pants to school. Yes, you can stay up past bedtime.

He's the Yes Parent.

And if he's the Yes Parent, you know what that makes me.

I'm the No Parent. No, you can't play video games. No, you can't have a fruit snack right now. No, you can't wear a cape to school. No, you can't bounce on the couch.

It feels like I say "No" all the time. I know that it's not all the time. But if there is something slightly questionable, something that pushes the rules a little bit, the boys know that Hubster will say "Yes" and that I will say "No."

I hate being the No Parent. The No Parent is the less liked one. The No Parent is the mean parent. The No Parent is the one that gets to listen to the crying and the whining and the begging for just 5 more minutes of iPhone games. It's no fun being the No Parent. I want to be the nice parent, the one that gets to swoop in and say, "Oh, here you go, here a bowl of ice cream for you to snack on while I cook dinner." Unfortunately, there has to be a No Parent.

Although I always tell Hubster that if he would stop being the Yes Parent, than I wouldn't be the No Parent and we would just both be The Parents. We would be a united parental force of No. There would be no more of the children choosing which parent to ask for things.

But then I watch how much fun happens when "Yes" happens. I watch what happens when I say yes to extra stories, yes to blanket forts, yes to another round of Uno, yes to games of hide-and-seek before bedtime.

I know that there has to be a No Parent. And I'm willing to take that roll, if it keeps the kids off the computer and eating healthy. But Hubster and the boys are also making me see that it is just as important to say yes. Occasionally. Once in a while. Maybe.


  1. That's a tough place to be. Have you tried AND, instead of no? "OK. You can have that cookie AND you can get it after dinner?" Someone we know uses that. I'm the no parent and I'm don't like it either. Necessary absolutely!

  2. A woman I really look up to once said, "say yes as often as you possibly can." I have tried that, and it has changed my family life for the better. While you shouldn't budge on some things, I've discovered creative ways of redirecting, that makes them think I'm not just the "mean mom."

  3. This is all about "choosing your battles". Be the NO parent on the things that matter - health, nutrition, well-being and the YES parent in other areas - more stories, more messy games/play, more time with mom. But, I agree, it's no fun being the NO parent.

  4. I love the "yes and..." suggestion! It can be hard to think of stuff on the fly though, so my advice is to come up with some common things you have to say no to, and figure out ahead of time what the yes and...will be.

    R and I run into this with his daughter, and it's even harder when it's not MY child and I have to always say no. Ugh!

  5. I haven't had to assume a role yet since my daughter is only a year, but I remember this struggle with my parents even. It was always clear that Dad would be yes and Mom no. I do wish they both took part in each role rather than knowing Mom was always the "enemy" and dad the "Friend."

  6. My husband is definitely the fun parent. I'm the parent that means business. I kinda like it that way. My husband and i are on the same page when it comes to making decisions. My daughter can't come to me for something and I say no and then go to my husband and he'll say yes. We're on the same page that way which is good.

  7. I could have written this post. Seriously. Though I am only JUST starting to value the yes. A little. Maybe.

    I hate being the no parent, but I am. With a vengence.

    This is a really well written post. You are, as always, brilliant and insightful.

  8. Somebody has to know when to say no. And I agree with Pam, this is a pick-your-battles issue.

    I remember the last time I asked Mom, got a no, and then asked Dad. I found out they TALKED to each other! Bad move on my part. Never did that again.

  9. It's definitely important for both parents to share in some of that. My mom often had to be the No Parent when we were younger and I definitely held some resentment for awhile. That disappeared as I grew up and understood things better, but it got to where I hated asking her things because I always knew the answer would be no.