When Should You Give In To Your Child?

Although parents often must deny a child's request, there are a few times when it doesn't hurt, and may even help, to give in.

Perhaps the word "no" is the one used more by parents than any other. While most of us do not enjoy denying our child's request, we typically do so for their own good. Safety, character, and compliance are the main reasons for rejecting a son's or daughter's petition.

But there may be times when it is okay to give in. In fact, it may even be advisable to do so. Here are some of those occasions, though each parent must decide the best response to a particular request.

1. For extenuating circumstances. Though your family may have a standing policy against a 16-year-old staying out after midnight, an occasion may occur when it seems expedient to bypass the rule. For example, Aunt Jane and Uncle Pete come into town and want to round up the nephews and nieces for a movie and pizza. Knowing they probably won't be home before 1 a.m., you give in with the understanding your child will be in good hands.

2. When your child offers an enlightening explanation. Though you initially deny your child's request to attend an overnight slumber party, you subsequently learn that half the class of same-sex friends will be there, and it will be chaperoned by two moms. Sometimes we answer a child's request too quickly without allowing time for a complete explanation.

3. In exchange for a compromise. You want you son to catch up on geometry homework this weekend, but he wants to attend a ball game with a friend on Sunday afternoon. Inclined to say "no" at first, you change your mind when your son offers to not only catch up, but go another section further in the textbook, which you will check before the ball game. In cases like these, go for a win-win solution where both parent and teen come out ahead.

4. After responding rashly. Tired, in a bad mood, or misunderstanding the situation, you bark out a response to your child without hearing the full story. As the facts come to light, you realize that you jumped the gun. Following your apology, you listen carefully for a full explanation and then decide a consent is appropriate.

5. Because there's no good reason to say "no." Sometimes we parents like to play a protective role beyond what is necessary. If you have a bad feeling about the request or distrust one of the other kids who will be involved, it's fine to refuse your permission. But if there is no good reason to deny the request, give in when you can. Doing so may draw your child's appreciation and gratitude, and your consent will serve to balance those times when you cannot give it in good conscience.

Generally speaking, parents should be prepared to make thoughtful decisions and hold the line when their children make requests. But at times when we make snap judgments while lacking all the facts or while preoccupied with other matters, it doesn't hurt to rethink a situation as long as the child understands it's the process of being fair and logical, not bullied, that changes a parent's mind.

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