Stop mollycoddling your kids! We talk to the author of The Politically Incorrect Parenting Book
Mums and dads who mollycoddle their kids and spend every waking moment trying to entertain their "bored" offspring are "sucking the fun" out of childhood, according to the author of a refreshing new parenting book.
Instead, parents should ignore the advice of politically correct interferers who over-complicate parenting and instead let their children run free.
That's the view from Nigel Latta, who has written The Politically Incorrect Parenting Book as an antidote to the overly-fussy, super hands-on prescriptive parenting manuals that crowd the bookshelves.
The 45-year-old clinical psychologist and dad of two boys, aged nine and 12, decided to write the book to help parents to stop feeling bad about bringing up kids.
"I get intensely irritated by people who say 'if you don't raise your children my way they'll be damaged'," he told Parentdish.co.uk.
Parenting is hard enough without being made to feel guilty by someone who doesn't know you or your kids. We've made parenting into this overly complicated, overly precious thing when really it's pretty simple.
He added: "I think politically correct parenting advice is sucking some of the fun out of childhood, and making it more stressful for parents.
Climbing trees and getting muddy and falling off stuff is all part of the fun of being a kid but increasingly we're making it harder for children to do all of those things.
"Parents are also seeing it as being their role to solve kids' problems, stop them from being bored or disappointed, and generally making sure they never experience any kind of adversity.
"The problem is that adversity is good. Problems are good. Even disappointment is good. All these things grow resilience and better equip you for dealing with life in the real world.
"I'd just like to try and let parents know that it's OK to be less than perfect.
Being a good-enough parent really is good enough.
"And if we relax and let kids experience a bit more mud and adversity, then they'll probably have a lot more fun as well."
So how can you be a politically incorrect parent and still do a good enough job?
1) Remember the three Rs:
Relationship, relationship, relationship. You always have to remember that one day they will be bigger than you. So while you can manage them with fear to begin with, you will pay the price for that later when they put you in a crap old people's home and poke you with sharp sticks.
That said, you don't want to be their friend all the time either because that also doesn't work. Just aim for somewhere in the middle.
2) Loving is easy, liking is hard:
Loving your children is compulsory. It's hard-wired in and happens without much effort at all, but liking is optional. Liking is the bit where you have fun, and be silly, and goof around.
You won't be able to like them all the time, but it's good if they can feel liked some of the time. Fun is the grease which keeps families turning so take it whenever you can get it.
3) All children are piranhas:
Children are hungry for attention and will do anything for it.
They're small dependent creatures and need us to do everything for them so it's no great surprise that attention from us is the thing they crave most.
4) Feed the good, starve the bad:
Following on from the previous rule if you simply pay attention to the good behaviors and ignore the bad ones as much as you can, then they'll give you more and more of the good stuff.
Just remember that you have to feed the behaviors you want to see more of.
5) Kids need fences:
Kids need boundaries, they need structure. Our mums and dads knew that, but we've been fed all this hippy nonsense which makes some people almost scared to put down some boundaries and enforce them.
I've seen thousands of kids and the happiest ones live in families where there are clear rules and consequences for breaking them.
6) Be consistent-ish:
No one can be completely consistent, that's a myth.
7) Don't take any crap:
It can be quite funny when little people get mouthy, but you should never let them get away with that stuff. It might seem funny, or harmless, but you have to remember that one day they'll be 14 and taller than you. Not so funny then.
8) You must have a plan:
If you don't have a plan then you tend to get angry and yell. While that's all very normal for most parents it usually isn't the most efficient way to deal with stuff that's driving you crazy.
So mute the telly during the ad break, get clear about what they're doing that's driving you crazy, and work out a plan to deal with it. Then stick to your plan.
9) All behaviour is communication:
Small children aren't usually very good at explaining how they feel so usually they show you through their behaviour. The trick with any behaviour is working on what they're trying to tell you, and then basing your plan around that.
10) Embrace chaos:
We all have days which are terrible. We all have nights which makes us want to run away to some child-free place and start a new life.
Accept these times as simply part of the ride that we all have to endure. It isn't just you, it's everyone. Once you accept that, it usually makes it easier to bear.
• The Politically Incorrect Parenting Book by Nigel Latta (£12.99, Vermillion) is out this week.
What do you think of Nigel's take on parenting?