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Little children girl sitting on the wooden floor crying loudly when the mother pointing to her

Parenting 101: Who Wears the Pants?

APRIL 10, 2023
Little children girl sitting on the wooden floor crying loudly when the mother pointing to her


I was somewhat surprised when I was once told: “Please don’t use the ‘NO’ word with my child.” While I appreciate the philosophy that you can empower your child and build a positive framework about the world by referencing everything with a positive spin, it isn’t the real world, and I worry that those children will grow up to be unpleasantly introduced to a world that they don’t know or understand.

Always saying “YES” to a child is actually really difficult to do. It requires reframing virtually everything you say.  What if your child wants to eat pizza for every meal? Or worse, Gummy Bears? This parent might respond with a question: “Could you please first take a bite of the chicken – or spinach – and then you can have the Gummy Bears.” While this might sound okay on first blush, there are 2 intrinsic problems you’re creating.

First, you’re giving your child mixed messages about nutrition. Using junk food as a bribe to eat healthy food can cause food issues down the road.  Feeding children fast foods or sweets is the cause of our obesity problem in America. It has become the go-to meal when we want to please the kids and avoid dinner-table conflicts.

Second, you’ve undermined your position as the “grown-up.” Yup, as the parent, you need to look out for what’s best for your child.  Most experts suggest that children aren’t equipped with the reasoning skills to thoroughly understand right from wrong until they’re 25 years old.  So why would a parent put their child in the driver’s seat by always saying “yes” and asking permission to make a recommendation?

Besides, I can’t put together sentences that don’t have the negative words like “no” or “can’t”, and I certainly don’t want to ask a 3 year old for permission to leave a party.  I wonder what happens when this toddler becomes a teenager. Not sure that this type of parenting will work when teens know who wears the pants in their families.  What would the parent say when their teen wants to have sex, drink beer, or smoke e-cigs? Parenting isn’t easy but for the sake of the children, parents need to be the grown-ups so their children can trust them to be the caring and wise leader in their lives that they need. 

2019 California Mother of the Year, Susan Tatsui-D’Arcy was born and raised in Southern California and currently lives in Santa Cruz, California. After her first child was born, Susan set up a preschool so she could spend more time with her daughter and provide engaging activities for her. She invited other children to join to create a stimulating and social environment. Realizing that no existing school met the standards she wanted for her children, she opened an elementary school for accelerated students that expanded with her children as they advanced each year. When her daughters were in middle school, Susan created ProjectMERIT to inspire teens to find their niches and pursue independent projects and then expanded Merit Academy to include high school and college advisory. Susan has written eleven books on parenting, education & time management. Susan is the CEO and founder of Merit Academy and Merit Educational Consultants. For fun, Susan skis, ATVs, and manages her aquaponics garden and permaculture fruit orchard. Read more about Susan here…


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