Three Words That Changed How I Parent

Photography: Fran Jorgensen Photography

By Joanna Goddard

Six years ago, I heard some parenting advice, and it changed everything…


Funnily enough, I can’t remember who said it or where I heard it, but those three words have run through my mind every few days since then. (That’s approximately 712 times.) The idea is that there are certain rules kids need to follow – say, try hard at school, be respectful to others, go to bed at bedtime, eat the odd vegetable, etc. – but outside of that, if they want to try something out, just say yes.

For example, here are few recent scenes at home:
Toby wanted to wear his bathing suit in the bath.
Anton wanted to jump from one sofa to the other.
Toby wanted to mix milk and water.
Anton wanted to wear pajamas to the grocery store.
Anton wanted to lie down on the skateboard.
Toby wanted to wear shorts on a chilly day.
Anton wanted to sleep upside down (feet on pillow).

My knee-jerk reaction is sometimes to say no – I mean, just hop in the bath, just drink your milk – but then I think: why not? If it’s not hurting anyone, and they find it exciting or enticing for some reason, who cares? “Aim for yes” runs through my mind, and I say go for it. They might feel cold on the walk home, they might not love the flavor of their drink, but they will feel free and curious! And that’s worth it, right? Side note: It’s also funny for me to see all the random stuff they come up with. 🙂

I just wish I could thank the person who said those three words.

Thoughts? What’s the best parenting advice you’ve gotten? Anything that still sticks with you? (My runner-up would be “babies be babies.”)

P.S. Trying out slow parenting, and 20 surprising parenting tips.

Originally published on Cup Of Jo.

Cup of Jo is a daily women’s lifestyle site founded by Joanna Goddard that covers style, food, design, culture, travel, relationships, and parenting. A Cup of Jo is ranked in the top 650 blogs in technorati and has garnered praise from magazines and websites, including Daily Candy, Martha Stewart Living, Glamour, Refinery29, Lucky and Apartment Therapy. Forbes recently named Cup of Jo one of the “Top 10 Lifestyle Websites for Women” for the second year in a row. Read more at the Cup Of Jo website, or follow them on Facebook and Instagram

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