About a month ago I was accused by another parenting blogger that I didn’t believe in treating kids with respect.
Yeah, bloggers actually verbally attack other bloggers when they write articles of differing opinions.
Seriously sad, isn’t it?
She said that comment — and many more — in response to this parenting post about popular parenting tips that could be causing your child’s misbehavior.
Her comments actually got me thinking…
So I decided to address the attitude behind teaching parents to avoid telling their kids no.
I think our kids deserve better than that.
I don’t avoid telling my kids “no”.
They’re going to leave our cozy, happy home one day, spread their wings and begin their new adventure — the real world.
Full of responsibilities, bills and difficult decisions.
Oh, it also just happens to be bursting with “no’s.”
Some of them are firm no’s.
Others are more flexible — no for now, but maybe yes in the future.
I like those best!
What about our real world as parents?
Sometimes our bodies tells us no. Sometimes God tells us no. Sometimes our bank accounts tells me no. Sometimes the clock tells us no.
And so that same scenario applies to my children’s future.
Caution: there are parents that don’t respect their children in their parenting journey. They believe that children should obey without question, that children are to be seen and not heard and that children just need to me trained and everything else will fall into place.
Though I am a conservative parent, that is not my view of a happy childhood.
More than training, disciplining and molding a child, I devote most of my energy to gaining my child’s heart. You can read my passion about this topic in Why You Need to Win Your Child’s Heart.
My kids need to be loved when they’re stressed.
They need to find a shoulder to cry on and an ear to listen.
But they also need a parent — not a peer — to look at them and say, “No. Screaming at your brother is not acceptable.”
They need mom and dad to squat down on their level, look into their eyes, and tell them that lying is not appropriate behavior.
They need their parents to teach them classic manners that are disappearing in modern day kids. And when they learn those manners they’ll learn phrases like:
- “No, we don’t not run in the library.”
- “No, we do not speak to adults with disrespect.”
- “No, we do not start eating our meal before everyone else sits down.”
- “No, we do not throw blocks across the room.”
- “No, we do not steal other children’s toys.”
- “No, we do not hit, bite or hurt another person.”
See why the word “no” is absolutely necessary?
Including that word in your child’s upbringing is definitely a powerful avenue to show respect to your child.
They need to hear the truth.
And telling them no is absolutely one of the best truths they can hear.
But I caution you to use your “no”s wisely…
We try to treat our parenting no’s like sprinkles on a cupcake — not too much, but definitely not too little!
I’m so glad my childhood was filled with no’s. In fact, I needed even more no’s.
I needed my mom to guide me and say,
- “Alison, you may not drink alcoholic beverages.”
- “Alison, you may not have friends who smoke or do drugs.”
- “Alison you are not allowed to use cuss words.”
- “Alison you will not skip school again!”
Those no’s kept me away from a lot of damaging baggage. Thank you mom for telling me “no.” <3 <3
But, when I tell my kids no, I try — though I’m not 100% consistent — to tell them why the answer is no.
When my kids ask to binge watch Veggie Tales (ha!), I remind them that even though watching movies are fun, there is a danger to be distracted from our most important responsibilities and relationships.
When my daughter doesn’t want to write her spelling words, I remind her that daily practice is what helps her improve. It would be easy to say, “OK. Forget about writing your spelling words!” But the best choice for her is to continue and finish her task.
When my youngest son asks for a Captain America costume, I remind him he can wait until Christmas. That’s a no for now, but maybe yes later! <3 These are all common parenting situations that sometimes require a parent to say "no." (Sometimes we can say “yes” to the Captain America costume, right?!)
And if you want a teen who will receive the answer “no” without flipping out — you need to start young. Start today. And keep saying “no” when the time and situation is appropriate.
Just last year I had to look at my teen son and say, “I know you want to go hang out with those boys, but I can’t let you. There will be no adult supervision and they all have smartphones. Plus, we barely know them. Not this time, but maybe another time and another situation.”
My son wasn’t angry — though I was anxious he might be. He only nodded and trusted my guidance.
He didn’t trust my guidance because he completely understood my caution. He trusted it because we had showed him enough respect that we told him no — from a very early age.
His first few epxiernces with such a negative word did not go so well…;0)
As typical toddlers do, he would often cry.
When those little cheeks would get red and his tiny fists would clench, I immediately wanted to give him what he wanted. But something held me back.
I knew that if I truly respected him, I would need to raise him with the reality of “no”.
And he learned “no” pretty quickly.
He knew “no” meant he didn’t go home with that cool toy from the store.
He knew “no” meant he couldn’t stick the fork in the electrical outlet.
He knew “no” meant he couldn’t hit his younger sister.
The word “no” doesn’t create a scene or bitterness.
But a happy childhood can’t be a childhood overflowing with no’s.
It has to be balanced with crazy-fun adventures, spontaneous family picnics, Friday family nights, yearly vacations, daily hugs (totally recommend 17 per day), ice cream cones, one-on-one time with parents, carnivals, building forts and of course — yes’s!
Yes, you may stay up late tonight.
Yes, you can grab a box of fruit snacks today.
Yes, you can watch Monsters University tonight.
Yes, we can go shopping for a new pair of Croc’s.
Yes, we can eat cereal for dinner!
You can still tell your child “no” and be a silly, fun mom! Pinky swear!
There is a phrase I often tell my kids — and it wasn’t a hack, or a parenting tip I learned or read. It was just me pouring my heart out to each one of my kids in a very transparent way.
Unrehearsed. Unlearned. And completely vulnerable.
This is the gist of what I’ve told them — over and over again.
“I want you to have all the fun life has to give you — as long as it doesn’t hurt your walk and relationship with Jesus Christ.”
Maybe it will help you find the words you want to convey to your kids when you need to say “no.” I hope it will!
At ages 2,4,6, and even 18 years old, our kids have yet to grasp enough life knowledge to always see the lurking dangers that could affect them for years and years.
They need parents telling them “no” when danger is covered in twinkling lights and glitter.
They need parents to protect them from as many evils and hurts as possible. (Yes, I highly recommend sheltering your child. I wish I was sheltered more when I was young!)
It’s a dangerous world out there, and I respect my kids enough to do the best of my ability to prepare them for it. My best bet is to listen to them, pray for them, love and sacrifice time and energy for them and yes — even tell them “no.”
Dear mom who’s trying to give her child the best childhood ever, don’t be afraid to say “no.”
But don’t forget to say “yes!”
<3 <3 <3