How often do you say 'No' to your kids? My honest answer is 'way too often' and I'm determined to change that.
Now I'm not one of those parents who thinks that 'No' is a dirty word, the very utterance of which will compromise my children's self-esteem for life, and I'm certainly not about to start banging on about how we should all refrain from using the 'N' word altogether.
But I read a story in the paper this week which got me thinking about whether I'm too quick to respond to my children with a hasty 'No'.
Father of four, Nick Reynolds, must have said a whole-hearted yes to his four daughters when they asked if they could bring home the snowman they'd just built together.
The Mirror newspaper reports:
The sisters who built this snowman loved their Frozen friend so much they asked their dad if he would Let It Go back home with them.
Kacey, nine, Heidi, seven, Maisy, five, and Erin, four, did not have the heart to leave Snowy on the North York Moors.
So dad Nick Reynolds, 48, popped him in the van and took him back to Poppleton, which has had no snow this year.
Mum Joanne, 46, said: “People have gone out of their way to see it.”
Gulp. I can't be the only one who read that story with a lump in my throat. Why? Because asking to bring home a snowman is just the kind of cute but crazy thing my kids would do.
Except the difference between me and the dad in this story is that I wouldn't have given it a moment's thought; I'd have snapped a surly 'No' quicker than you can say 'Do you wanna build a Snoooowmaaaan?'
I don't know where it comes from, this lightening-quick 'No' reaction. Partly, I think, it's just what happens when you're bombarded with ceaseless questions from kids, from requests for ice cream ten seconds before dinner to begging and pleading for an iPhone at the tender age of seven. It just becomes quicker to say no to everything, and to presume that the really serious or important questions will penetrate that feisty 'no' filter.
But I also reckon that if I persist with this kind of parenting, I'm going to regret it eventually.
Because, one day, my kids won't be building snowmen with me or asking for ice-cream as I'm dishing up dinner. Who knows where in the world they'll be - and maybe I won't even know, if they turn out to be intrepid adventurers - and I'm pretty sure I'll be haunted by all those times I turned down their crazy requests when they were kids.
No parent in their right mind would say yes to putting a snowman in the boot of your car and bringing it home for the entertainment of the neighbours, and yet you can pretty much guarantee that those kids will never forget that moment in their childhood.
So from hereon I am saying Yes to saying Yes more often to my kids.
Who's with me? Just say Yes...