Should you say NO?
I remember with my first child saying no to her what seemed like a million times during the year after she turned two. I even remember her imitating me right down to the finger pointing. Recently, it was brought to my attention by a well informed mother of a very busy toddler, that the word “no” was one she avoided in raising her rambunctious boy. She explained that to say the word “no” would ruin his spirit and determination. I was bewildered. This was new. “You mean you never say no?” I asked. “We avoid it as much as possible” was her reply.
Can I just say that I can’t even fathom how I would have gotten through raising my first child, let alone all six of them, without telling them no? Imagine a few scenarios:
Mom, can we have ice cream for breakfast? (yes, they have asked this question, and yes my parents said yes)
Mom, can I use these scissors outside?
Mom, I do not want broccoli; I only want macaroni and pizza.
Are you getting the picture?
Seriously, I was so mind blown that I couldn’t even come up with an intelligent question to ask her! After having time to think about it, I can think of a few!
What are you going to do when your child’s teacher, coach, babysitter says “no” for the first time? How do you even hire a babysitter?
How do you express your authority?
How do you set your boundaries? I mean, children need limits. They need someone to tell them they can’t go in the street, they can’t cut their own hair, they can’t use marker on the wall at the pediatricians office or that they can’t hit their sister with the remote.
Do you realize you can say “no” without coming across as a mean tyrant?
Looking back, I am so glad I wasn’t afraid to use the word NO with my children. I have had lots of opportunities to say yes of course, but I have never regretted creating rules that we live by and telling my kids no when I needed to clearly communicate what I meant to them.
There are times when I said no and then I didn’t even explain why! Guess what? As a parent, it’s totally okay to say, “I don’t want to discuss this right now.” Don’t get me wrong, I love to talk through things and work out problems with my kids. I’m just not afraid to say no. I’m not afraid that by saying no, that I will damage them forever or that they will hate me to the ends of the Earth. I have news for you, I’ve been told no many times, and there are times I wish someone HAD said no to me.
Here’s another thing that goes hand in hand with saying “no”. You are not responsible for your child’s happiness. Shocked? I do have to remind myself of this one from time to time. I actually wrote this down in my journal once a while back, “My child’s happiness is no measure of my parenting skills.” That’s right. If you have seen my YouTube video about Family Meal Table, you will have seen my encouragement box that I made to lift myself up when I am feeling discouraged in my parenting. This is one of the things I have written on one of my cards.
By now I am sure you are thinking my parenting technique is that of an Ogre. Don’t get me wrong, I definitely want my kids to be happy! They are incredibly fun to hang out with when they are happy and can be unbearable to be around when they are not! Don’t even get me started on how much my husband desires for them to be happy!
There is one thing that ALL parents need to understand about their children’s happiness (or maybe their spouse’s happiness). You can’t control or force someone to be truly happy. Of course, as my husband frequently demonstrates, you can fix their problems, remove their obstacles, bail them out when they are in need and protect them from unwanted consequences. As we have learned, even when he does make their path smooth, they still end up facing difficulties at times and at times they still feel sad. #lessonlearned
Bottom line? Ditch the guilt, say no and move on. You won’t regret it. It will set you up for success later and give you even more opportunities, after they have proven they are trustworthy in certain areas, to say YES!