When my father-in-law was a guidance counselor, he kept the phrase I’ve used as a title for this blog as a reminder on his desk. Working with kids all day, and going home to eight of his own, I can see how that was probably necessary just to stay sane.
“No” is a love word. I like to think about the power of that sentence. So often we talk about being positive with our children and how telling our children “no” might hinder their self-esteem. But sometimes, a parent just needs to say “no.”
“No” can be said in a loving way, even though it’s hard for some of us to say it! We want our children to have the best, have the things we didn’t have or just enjoy our company. I love the lesson one of my friends preaches, that children need us to “be their parent, not their friend.” Sometimes the hardest part of being a parent is when we have to deny our children a request only to meet with obnoxious behaviors. No parent likes the tears, the tantrums and the whining, but sometimes, there’s no way around them. I have learned the hard way that giving in only causes more work for me in the long haul.
I can remember being a new mom of a preemie after having an emergency c-section. I was sore, tired and zombie-like, not wanting to do anything after each and every two hour feeding. But I also had a toddler and a 6-year-old. I know they got away with murder. Sure, go ahead, tear the house up, I’m too tired to do anything about it. Those sanitary pads aren’t stickers, but they peel off the wall just fine.
Boundaries are a gift we can give to our children. We say “no” for their safety: Kids don’t realize the dangers of sticking a shiny fork into the wall socket, and that’s why parents must set and enforce the rules. We say “no” to ensure their health: Kids need more than gummy bears and chicken nuggets at every meal, and a good night of rest.
Don’t feel guilty about saying “no.” We need to express our love to our children, that our decisions are often for their own good. Hopefully one day, when my kids have kids, they’ll thank me.
But I won’t hold my breath.