Parenting 101: Never negotiate


My new parenting column, Family Matters, started in the Gold Coast Bulletin yesterday. This is what I wrote about my boys.

My six-year-old made a pre-emptive strike from his precarious position teetering on top of a chair in the kitchen.

‘Mum whatever you think I’m doing, I’m not.’
So if I thought you were raiding my pantry at 5.45am I would be wrong?
‘Yes mum, you’d be wrong, that’s not what I am doing.”
Never a dull moment when you’re a mummy.
No university degree, certificate course, intensive workshop program or management program can prepare you for the challenges, hurdles and protracted negotiations that come with the motherhood position.
Strap yourself in, this ride might get bumpy.
I’ve been doing this mummy thing for seven years now and just when I think I have it sussed the goal posts move.
My children are two of the most irrational people I’ve ever met … and yet I love them so.
Yesterday Weetbix was their favourite breakfast cereal, today they hate it.
Last week the Batman t-shirt was cool, this week it sucks. ‘Ironman is where it’s at mum, don’t you know anything?’
I spend my life doing deals.
‘If you eat an apple, some carrots and one meatball you can have dessert.’
No mum, how about I eat half an apple, one carrot and half a meatball and then I’d like ice-cream. Not yoghurt must be ice-cream.
Hustled by a six-year-old … oh dear, what hope is there?
My husband, Mr Bean, is the product of an Irish Catholic upbringing. His family of five kids was considered small around their neck of the woods … children were seen and not heard.
He delights in reminding me that our children are growing up in an environment that’s foreign to him. Opinions and choices were neither encouraged nor offered to children in his family … so he says.
I reckon he’s full of bluff and bluster. He says we should be stricter, sterner, more authorative.
In reality, he’s a big softy … a pushover. And the boys know it.
Give dad a cuddle and he’s jelly.
‘What’s that boys, you want a motorbike? Let’s see what we can do, shall we.’
I don’t want to raise kids who are boring; kids too scared to speak out. Yet sometimes, as I’m doing a deal over a sandwich topping or negotiating the collection of toys from my floor, I do wonder what it would be like to have children who did what they were told … when they were told.

 And THIS is the response I got from a wise dad of two.

 What on earth is this ‘mummy thing’?

this is not a chic thing you think is ‘something you can pass off’ after a few year. You are MUM, MUMMY, MOTHER for the REST OF YOUR NATURAL LIFE!!! and never forget that. Even if the most terrible of life style changes ever happens to you. (Separation/Divorce)
Why are you negotiating with your littlies? you MUST set boundaries for literally everything they may want to argue about. Your issue about doing deals of; if you eat an apple, carrots, meatball, then you can have dessert. well that is the first mistake. you should NEVER negotiate meals. Never put dessert as an incentive to eat what you want them to eat.
You should be just placing a bit more food on the plate than you want them to eat. by doing this you can encourage them to eat a bit or half of what ever they don’t want to eat on the plate. that way you have won, and they think they have won. can then give them dessert. you should never put the minimum on the plate and demand that they must eat the lot. arguing, ‘you do not leave the table until you clean that plate, you do not get dessert until you clean that plate, you do not etc, etc, by demanding this approach all that you do is force them to eat all on their plates as they grow up and eat out at family,friends, restaurants. and these leads to fatness.

You must ensure that doth of you have the NO word down pat. because that is what a parent does, says no more than they say yes. the reason for this, is that generally parents[mother, father] (not mum, dad, or mummy, daddy) do know best. and littlies, especially little teenage buggars will always push the boundaries of the meaning of no.

I do agree with your husband, there are times when kids are to be seen and not heard, and sometimes kids are not even to be seen. and the only way that they will know this is to be taught over the years as to when is the time for these things. Kids just don’t know these things. The only way kids, (human beings) learn is via the good ol parrot fashion.
Also remember, in truth there is no such thing as quality time with your kids. quality comes from the quantity of time spent. For me, the number of times my 2 girls have remembered something that happened when they were younger can only be attributed to the quantity of time spent. Because there is no way some of these noted memories can occur if you try quality time. sometimes the most unusual, but pertinent question can only come out their mouths when they are comfortable, sometimes even bored with just sitting around. Kids cannot write a list of questions to ask anyone at anytime, let alone between 3:30 & 6:00 pm on a Monday night during ‘quality time.’ The kids do grow up too quickly, so spend as much time with them as possible.

Regards from a dad daddy, father who is about to give away his eldest daughter to ‘suitable’ young man in a few months.

Not surprisingly my husband thinks this guy is a legend.

  • Krystle

    Congratulations on your column!! I’m continually surprised by how much this mummy gig involves, and feel woefully under-qualified. I guess that something most mums have in common though. I never know what the ‘right’ way to negotiate is, if at all. I prefer to think of it as offering lots of opportunities for the kids to be rewarded for good choices 🙂