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Hey Mom.. How About You Just. Say. NO?

I’m certain those of you who are believers in the Good Enough Mother philosophy know exactly what I’m going to say about this. So let me go ahead and give you the end right now.


Now that I got that off my chest, I’ll fill in the blanks. Seems there are some moms in a tony area of Brooklyn called Park Slope, who want to ban ice cream carts from the playground because they are tired of their kids melting down when they have to say no to them. I’ll stay here for a moment while that gives you a brain freeze.

Two things come to mind immediately. Number one: Who’s in charge here? For real. I am constantly amazed how many parents take the train ride along the path of least resistance, going along rather than have to deal with the fit-throwing, push back that comes when you put your foot down. This was what I was trying to say when I was on the Anderson Cooper show talking about parents who let their kids drink at home. I did not say teenagers wouldn’t TRY it, a point, that was lost on so many, judging by the angry emails dotted with misspelled, four-letter words. The point is that just because they are going to try it doesn’t mean I am going to condone it.

Secondly, this level of helicopter parenting is stunning in its attempted reach. Do these moms think the best way to get their kids to behave (and prepare them for the future) is by removing all the things in their path that might upset them? Yeah, that’s a big fat no.

I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again, my job as a parent is not to protect my kids from every disappointment; it is to prepare them for how to handle it. That would include how to behave when mommy says, “No you can’t have that.” This is parenting, not a popularity contest which means you will sometimes have to make (and enforce) unpopular decisions.

Of course, we all want what’s best for our kids and that means setting boundaries. But news flash:  It’s not up to the mean ol’, dairy pusher to do that. He did not give birth to this kid nor is it his responsibility to set limits on how much of the frozen confection he/she can have. It’s not even his responsibility, as one commenter suggested, to stock his wagon with healthy treats so the decision is easier for you. That’s all on you, mom.

So say it with me. NNNNNOOOOOOO. Try it; you just might find, the more you say it (and mean it), the easier it gets for you to say and for your kid to understand.

What about you guys? What do you think of these moms trying to ban the ice cream carts from the park?  Do you agree with my assessment or is there another solution? Lemme hear ya!

More from GEM:

Walk or Ride: Every Parent’s Dilemma

Perfect Parenting? Perfect Nonsense!

The GEM Debate: Is Abstinence Really Realistic?


  1. Amanda

    April 3, 2012 at 3:28 pm

    Gem, I read an article about a month ago about “french parenting” and I think I need to find it and send it to you, you might like it. But I’ve taken a few tips from them. French parents don’t helicopter parent at all. The article was written by an American mom on her experiences while she and her family lived in France. She goes to the park, her kid spends all day trying to run out of the park and she spends all afternoon chasing him instead of sitting in the shade with her friend. Her friends child plays quietly in the sandbox, never once trying to run away. French mom’s advice “don’t run, just say “NO!” sternly and mean it. You’re the mom, he’s the child. You have to teach him that.” I’ve realized I’ve started to helicopter parent my son, some days instead of dealing with the fight the grocery store will be while he’s asking for everything colorful that he sees, I just leave him home with dad, or don’t go. I’m a prisoner in my own home! I’m done with that. And Connor is not happy that mom suddenly grew a spine. LOL!

  2. Allergic2snow

    April 3, 2012 at 3:34 pm

    This trend in parenting today is SCARY! Saying no to kids doesn’t damage their self esteem, it teaches them boundaries and expectations. It is just as important as teaching them how to get dressed, do chores, brush their teeth, etc….. Why are we faking our kids by pretending that the world is an easy, stress free place where no one is ever disappointed, everyone gets a trophy and Mom and Dad will do anything not to feel guilt??? Craziness!!!

  3. Dave M

    April 3, 2012 at 3:51 pm

    I will admit my wife was one who would give in. Always. She hated the crying, screaming and awful noise and I was always big-bad-Dad who said “no.” But that changed. It gets harder the longer you wait to do it, but it happens. The key is you cannot . . . give . . . in! I once had my daughter scream in the store so loud everyone was looking. I told her to stop or we’d be outside and she’d sit there in my arms with no shopping, no Mom, no treat, nothing. Thing is, the parents walking by weren’t upset. All of them said “hang in there, Dad” and eventually my daughter wore out. Next time? No tantrum. I said “stop it!” and she stopped. It’s not just about the word, it’s the follow-through. If you say no but eventually give in, the kids know you eventually will give in and keep going. You cannot just say it, you have to mean it!

  4. Deon smith

    April 3, 2012 at 4:26 pm

    There is not much for me to say because I agree with you one hundred percent. Some fail to deferientiate the obligation to make our kids happy from guiding them in a proper manner to become adults in a world where parameters are set. Teach them now or allow the world to teach them later, and the won’t be as merciful.

  5. Matt

    April 3, 2012 at 4:42 pm

    I like a comment I read on UrbanBaby about how these women wouldn’t object if the ice cream carts were selling organic ice cream from some rare Himalayan yak …

  6. Tiffany T

    April 3, 2012 at 4:44 pm

    My son is only 16 months old right now, so these encounters are mostly still to come for us, but I love reading advice like this. It just reaffirms the parenting decisions that my husband & I have already made in regards to how we want to raise our children. I’m not saying that we won’t slip up now & then, but when I hear about mommies in the park whining about the ice cream truck, it makes me want to scream!

  7. Tracey

    April 7, 2012 at 11:01 am

    When my son was a toddler we were at a toy store at a mall and I told him “No, you can’t play any longer. We have to leave.” He threw a tantrum of epic proportions with me trying to hold onto his wriggly hands as I led him out of the store. He freed himself, screaming loudly, and proceeded to DIVE onto the floor and roll away from me, like a rogue bowling ball. People stared at him, then at me, in surprise, in disgust, in horror, and as if I should have a better handle on my situation. I guess laughing as I tried to catch and grab him did not help. Fast forward, I did catch him, ignored the ear splitting screams and kicks, and kept my temper in check while leaving the mall and maintaining the decision. No means No. Our kids will push the envelope OFF the cliff if we allow them to. Our jobs are not to destroy their worlds but to prepare them for it. And if that means that we will have to say NO to the ice cream man, then so be it. But keep the trucks…some of us adults with some free time would like to indulge in a fudge-sicle.

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