If you have kids, your attention no doubt gets drawn to another parent when they are arguing with their own children. I often wonder why just anyone can have kids. I am a big fan of discipline and love, and don’t have much use for time-outs. To each their own I suppose.

I was going about my business the other day when I heard a woman tell her daughter ‘no.’ Her daughter continued to challenge her, and the woman continued to say no. To her credit, the mother didn’t back down, but most of the time, I watch kids wrap their parents around their fingers. Do you know why? Because many of us don’t spend time with our children, and we don’t want to be seen as mean when we actually do find the time to share with them. Instead of sticking to our guns and acting like parents, we strive to be their friends.

I was just browsing through the site of a popular parenting magazine and thought I would see if they had anything on discipline. They had one article, but some of the comments in it were just bizarre. One specialist says we find it hard to say ‘no’ because “our children won’t have the same opportunities” and “limits might impede their creativity.” What exactly does that mean? Johnny won’t sing unless I let him do whatever he wants? I can tell that some of these guys don’t have children. Here’s hoping anyway. Limits are exactly what our children need. Emotionally they guide them and physically they protect them.

To be completely honest, most of us don’t find it hard to say no, we just have a problem meaning it. We are too tired or too lazy to stick to our guns. By caving in to arguing, we deprive our children of a lesson in authority. Parents who will not say no to their kids and mean it are spoiling them. By spoiled I mean the literal definition of the word, as in bad eggs, as in no good.

When we allow our kids to argue their way into anything they want, we are not teaching them negotiations. We are in fact teaching them that our rules are bendable, all one need do is to complain until the parent backs down. It becomes a system, and if you don’t put a stop to it really early, like at 3 or 4, then you are sowing the seeds of your own children’s rebellion.

By saying no and then reversing your stand, you have just reinforced the behaviour of your child arguing with you on all matters where he or she is not satisfied with the final answer, and you have now set yourself up to argue any point you wish to be firm on.

I love it when my children say, “But Kenny’s allowed to.” My reply is always, “Ya, and your point is?” Kids love to use guilt. They may not think of it as that, but children are probably the most manipulative of people. When I ask my children if I am Kenny’s dad, they say no. That’s the end of that.

I am very strict and sometimes my children like to play the compare game where they compare their freedoms to those of their friends. I have taught them to understand that I do not have the same standards as most of their friends parents and whenever I see their friends constantly challenge their parents’ authority, I quietly let myself smile inwardly knowing that I am right on target.

My children are clear on one thing. No means no. It doesn’t mean that if you keep on me, it will be a yes. In fact, if the matter continues, they lose something else. It’s wonderful and makes for a peaceful existence. If you train your children to obey you first and foremost, (oh my, yes, I said train. I can’t wait for the ‘woof’ emails to start coming), then the atmosphere between the two or eight of you will be a lot more tranquil, and the next time you see ‘that kid’ in the mall, you too can smile to yourself.

My children don’t always like my answer, but they are expected to comply. Once they have, then they may ask the reason for my decision. Sometimes I will explain, sometimes I will let them think about it for a while. Usually they come up with the reason themselves in time, after the disappointment wears off.

So, if you do nothing but argue with your kids, try this out. The next time you say no, mean it. If they want to keep talking on the subject, walk away. Tell them that the subject is now closed. Be a parent first, then be their friend. They are well worth it, and it is the responsible thing to do.

They may not realize the reasons now, and may not like you too much today, but tomorrow your kids will thank you.

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