Gordon Ramsay Explains Why Parents Should Never Say This Condescending Phrase
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Gordon Ramsay recently sat down with Josh Sherer on the set of the Mythical Kitchen YouTube series Last Meals. On the show, guests sample the foods they would eat for their final meal while chatting about life, death and everything in between. The conversation showcased Ramsay’s depth and provided some insights into his parenting style, including the crucial reason why he tries not to tell his kids “I told you so.”
The admission came after Scherer asked Ramsay, who, alongside his wife Tana is raising six kids ranging from seven weeks to 25 years old, what he learned from his own dad about how not to be a father.
“That dreadful word, when they turn around and say ‘I told you so,’” Ramsay answered. “There’s the condescending bullshit that you never want to tell your kids… I always say, ‘the earlier you tell me, the more I can do.’”
“I didn’t have a close relationship with him,” Ramsay continued. “He was always the condescending type, ‘I told you so.’ Kids want to hear ‘what have we got, how do we salvage, and what’s the comeback?’”
Those who have seen Ramsay’s foul-mouthed and savage takedowns of subordinate chefs may be surprised to find out that he doesn’t employ those authoritarian tactics at home. But he appears to display a much softer side rooted in kindness and gentle encouragement.
This isn’t to say that Ramsay is a permissive parent. Rather, he seems to find ways to thread the needle of holding his children to high standards while also allowing them to make and learn from their mistakes.
In the interview, Ramsay also said one of his key parenting tactics is to try to remember how he bounced back from failure in the past and make it possible for his kids to do the same.
“Honestly, that comeback for me, it’s been my life, because that journey upwards has been one of the most exciting …,” he says. “I teach these kids the lesson that we’re allowed to make tiny mistakes, but just don’t repeat that mistake.”
Ramsay’s mindset dovetails with what experts consider best practices that foster independent, resilient, and securely attached children. A recent study from researchers at the University of Wisconsin, for instance, found kids who have predictable support from adults are more willing to take healthy risks that encourage learning and development, even when that means making mistakes.
It can be difficult for parents to figure out which mistakes kids can learn from, and then actually let them make those mistakes. That’s why so many parents veer into helicopter parenting style habits, even though they claim they want to allow their kids to learn how to complete tasks independently.
One creative solution Ramsay shared in this regard is his approach to teaching his kids to save money. If they want to spend all of their weekly allowance on candy, sneakers, and Pokémon cards, then he allows them to do so without nagging or guilt trips.
But come Christmas, he’ll match every dollar that they saved over the previous year to encourage delayed gratification. And he attributes that practice to the drive he sees in his older kids.
“All of a sudden, their minds are focused about their career paths,” he says. “And so yeah, that was the opposite way that I grew up. They are super disciplined, and they are on it, man.”