Just say NO. To kids.

It seems there’s been a power shift in Australian homes. When I was growing up, my parents were definitely in charge. Dad got the shank from the leg of lamb without even asking and no one dared speak before 7am on a Saturday so Mum could sleep in.

Now, at my place, the kids have taken over. There’s been a silent coup while our attention was elsewhere. My husband automatically gives our littlest a chicken leg he would love to gnaw himself, and no one thinks twice about screaming their head off at dawn because the dog is mauling a zhu zhu pet, thus denying me a little extra sleep.

I have fallen into a generational black hole, and I will never in my life be top dog. My parents ordered me around for the first half of my life and now it’s my kids’ turn and I don’t know how it happened.

Luckily, Victoria’s most senior policeman has some answers. He suggests it’s because parenting is a lost art and we should harden up and start throwing the ‘N’ word about a bit. That word would be, ‘No.’

Amelia Harris and Elissa Dohert report in The Herald Sun

In a parenting call to arms, Chief Commissioner Simon Overland said he didn’t believe they set enough boundaries.

“I think parenting, in some ways, has become a bit of a lost skill,” Mr Overland said.

“Parenting actually means sometimes saying no. Parenting means putting boundaries in place and actually enforcing those boundaries because that’s what young people need.”

Parents should stop trying to be their kids’ friends and dish out the discipline.

Dish out the discipline? I wonder what that means? Is it, ‘No, you may not have an iPhone 4,’ or is it a sound thrashing?

My kids would be shocked by either. Our brand of discipline sits somewhere in the middle. We try not to spoil, but we aren’t fans of smacking either. We muddle along and so far, so good. No one’s in reform school yet.

But I do worry that we worry too much about our kids’ happiness. That always putting theirs before ours isn’t going to end well. For them or us.

There’s a lot of hand-wringing parents out there, scared that if they say, ‘No, you cannot do tennis AND swimming on Saturdays because, frankly, I want to read the paper and drink endless cups of tea,’ that child will never learn to play a proper backhand. God forbid.

People worry about their kids, ‘missing out’ and being ‘left behind’. I hear it all the time, mums and dads saying they feel sorry for their kids – because they can’t go to a party or are staying at home for the holidays. This most indulged generation is fast becoming the most pitied.

Parents seem to have lost the gift of putting themselves first. Mine had it down pat and were happy as Larry. They weren’t mean, just busy – and the hierarchy of the household was clear. Mum and Dad at the top and kids at the bottom.

But will a bit more, ‘No’ at home will free up the children’s courts? I suspect it’s not that simple. I’m not an expert at all, but I reckon kids who find themselves in trouble with the law and sleeping on the streets need a bit more ‘Yes,’ as well. Yes, you are loved, yes we like having you around, yes we care that you go to school and yes, you can have the shank from the leg of lamb, just this once.

What do you think, is the word ‘No’ used too much or too seldom?

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