The Parenting Pitfall of “Maybe”

With the distance of not being on the front lines, I can see the troubles that some parenting techniques bring. One of the biggest ones I see after 30 years of practicing pediatrics is parent saying “Maybe” in answer to a child’s question.

Parents tend to say “Maybe” when they don’t want to say no and risk a confrontation. We’re hoping that the child will forget about the request and we will not have to say no. But children have great memories—I used those memories when we were heading to the grocery store and I needed help remembering why I was there. Children quickly learn that a “Maybe” most often means “No”. The pleading just goes on and on.

One of the more enlightening parts of being a grandparent is to watch one’s children become parents. Due to my own “excellent” role modeling, my children often use the phrase “Maybe if” to help explain what needs to happen to get to a “yes” “If we have enough money when we finish paying for the groceries we will buy an ice cream cone”. “If I have time for an hour break after doing my chores, we will go to the park”.  “When you finish your chores, we will go to the movie.”

If the answer to the question is “No”, just say no and why.

If the answer to the question is yes, just say yes. Don’t discount the power of the gift of yes. For our children, we are the gods who determine their lives. A generous god is well loved and also gets to have a good time.



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