Saying no to our children
Saying no to our children is not always easy or pleasant. Sometimes it is very hard work and we donít want to face the struggle. Most of us at some time will find ourselves saying yes when we know we should have said no. Some people almost never say no. The funny thing is though, the more I am prepared to say no, and mean it, and enforce it, the less I have to say it.
Children get the message. We have to say no to our diabetic children often enough, for health reasons, that you would think we would be better at it for other things. I know sometimes I feel a little guilty saying no to something after a series of diabetes related noís. But I still have to say no anyway. Parents who have to say no for most of the day will probably admit that they are not enforcing it. They give in too soon. When you do this you are sending mixed messages to your children about what they are and are not allowed to do. There are many reasons why we find it difficult to say no. However, there are some common patterns that we all display at some time or another. These are some common reasons, I know I need to raise my own hand at a couple of these.
* We want to keep the peace and fear the row, or other consequences that may follow.
We can get the necessary strength, confidence and authority to say no when it matters by understanding these reasons more fully.
Protecting Your Child from the Pain of Disappointment. Of course it hurts to see our children suffer, but mild discomfort and disappointment are a part of life. Our children will be better equipped to cope with the realities of life if they experience and learn to manage disappointment. This doesnít mean we should go out of our way to expose them to pain. It does mean that being the cause of their disappointment is not something we should feel guilty about. Being used to accepting no, and realizing that they can survive the disappointment, makes them stronger in the face of adversity and gives them a better idea of which "wants" are really important to them. Going without once in a while helps to develop a sense of priorities and character.
Protecting Ourselves from our Childís Feelings of Anger or Disappointment. We sometimes avoid saying no to protect ourselves from having to respond to our childrenís negative reaction. As parents, we are used to "making them feel better"; but how can we do this without giving in?
We canít. We also canít avoid their negative reaction. We have to "stand in" and tough it out. Sometimes saying nothing is best for the situation
Avoiding the Responsibility of Making a Decision About an Issue. Sometimes we avoid saying no because it involves us in making a decision about rights and wrongs of an issue and taking responsibility for that decision afterward. It is easier to say yes, particularly if we donít find it easy to make decisions. Saying no puts the burden on us to have a reason for the refusal. If we cannot think of two good reasons for our decision then maybe we should re-think our position. We donít always have to supply our reasons to our children. When we say yes they donít ask why, they just accept the answer because it was what they wanted to hear. However, as parents it wonít kill us to check our reasoning from time to time.
Fearful of the Row, or Other Consequences, That May Follow. If you find yourself often avoiding saying no because you are frightened of the power battle or retaliations that will follow, you need to ask yourself two questions.
If the answer to either of these questions is yes, then you have two more questions to answer.
Needing Approval, and fearing Rejection. Some parents may find it hard to say no because they are afraid their children wonít like them if they donít give them what they want. They need to be liked and need to feel that their child is their friend. If you are looking for approval and friendship from your child, especially if you need it for your own self-esteem, then you are putting a huge burden on your child that they should not be asked to carry. We as parents need to be the constant factor in our childrenís lives. We need to be their rock of guidance and security.
Wanting to Keep the Times You Are Together Free from Conflict. It is very hard for a parent who does not spend much time, for whatever reason, with their child to start being tough and causing upset. It is only natural that you want to keep those precious moments free from conflict. Non custodial parents sometimes spoil their children when itís their weekend "on". Working parents who arrive home near bedtime may find it hard to resist the pleas for more time and attention. Our children have a way of knowing the weak spot, and will exploit it for all itís worth. To them itís worth a lot. But giving in or being soft is not in their best interest.
We know that it can be a hard world out there sometimes. At some point in their lives our children are going to have to face it on their own. We meet our responsibilities as parents by properly equipping them to successfully meet and overcome the obstacles they will surely face. Donít send your precious child out there unprepared.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Russell Turner, USA