I definitely struggle with saying "no" to my kids. Because I love them, and want to make them happy. All the time.
That's why I connected with mom Emma Lou Harris's recent Facebook post about the importance of saying that two-letter word not just as a parent, but in life.
"I've always been a yes girl," the mom to a 3-year-old daughter, Frankie, and a 2-year-old son, Jax, begins her powerful post, adding, "Yes to everyone but myself." She goes on to admit saying "no" used to make her anxious and even fearful. And guilty, which I fully relate to.
Because she so dreaded "no," the Irish mama writes she would say "yes" even if it meant she ended up in situations she wanted to avoid. And when Harris became a parent, "no" stayed with her.
"Always giving in, always saying yes when it wasn't deserved and sometimes at times when it wasn't even requested. I always said yes. I always worried my kids would hate me for 'No's' the same as I worried people would hate me for them before my children. I was happier to accept looking like a walk over then a monster," Harris writes.
But a recent "long hard look" at the world prompted this mom to reexamine her reliance on the word "yes." Harris now realizes, "Saying 'No' is not about denying them something, but it's gifting them with the reassurance that saying 'No' is Ok."
She goes on to write, "When I say 'No' to my child it's not because I am a mean mother, it's BECAUSE I am THEE [sic] mother." In fact, Harris has come to understand that saying "no" doesn't make her a bad mom; it empowers her kids.
"It's telling my small son who will one day be a man, that NO means NO. A man who I hope will go on dates, or a have relationships or marriage. He needs to know that No means No and there are not any exceptions to that. As his mother it is MY JOB to drill that into his head from day dot," Harris's powerful post continues.
She adds, "It's teaching my daughter also, that NO means NO and that she needs to feel ok with that decision. She's ENTITLED to say 'No'. I want them to know that 'No' doesn't always mean failure, but that sometimes it's confirmation that winning is coming. Just not yet."
Harris now thinks that the word "no" means power, bravery, protection, and knowing your own boundaries. "It's discipline. It's respect. It's the cruel to be kind. It may be the bad cop. But 'No' is never bad," she concludes, adding, "Now I say 'No'. Not because I don't love my children, but because I love them TOO much to always say yes."
Her viewpoint is definitely thought-provoking, and will no doubt prompt me to rethink saying "no" to my kids in the future. Because she's right; sometimes saying "no," while harder, is far more beneficial than saying "yes."
Do you also have a hard time saying "no" to your children?