I say “no” to my kids about a dozen times a day, give or take a few dozen. And each time I deliver that provocative response, I weigh it heavily on my heart. I know the significance of my intention. I must measure the meaning with utmost clarity and consciousness. Entitlement soaks through our very nature spilling into the river of gluttony, polluting the sea of spoiled selfishness.
Children always want more. We are all born with this elusive self-centered hunger, living in a constant state of desire for more. It is up to us to transform our children’s hearts. We must change their endless longings and teach them about thoughtful discernment. We have a responsibility to nurture maturity in our children, through the process of saying “no”.
I believe this is one of the hardest lessons in life, because it is ongoing in our lives as well. Even as adults, we too often struggle with the unequivocal ‘no’, don’t we?
And so it goes…
Along the path of parenting, we must honor this value in every corner of our lives. We must demonstrate that more isn’t better and “no” paradoxically often leads to more. More fulfillment, than any yes could ever give. Setting limits is imperative, in order to lead a healthy and productive life. Not having ‘this’ or ‘that’ takes great self-control, patience and fortitude. Do we realize its worth? I believe we must practice this principle every day in our lives, so that our children can see our consistent examples of accepting ‘no’.
How do you handle limitations in your life? Take a closer look, and evaluate this carefully. Do your children see your need for more? Do they watch you value “yes” more than “no”?
I believe that is the first order of business for us parents. We need to demonstrate the ability to accept and honor those things we can’t do, have, be- with dignity and grace…
Our children’s watchful eye will take it in. And as we embark on the most difficult lesson to teach, our modeling will only stand to enhance and encourage the same in our kids.
We must raise children with the wisdom of understanding the difference between greed and need, happiness and allowance, freedom and responsibilities. Our culture denies such differences. So we go against the grain of many. How many of our kids’ friends have this mentality? How many of our own friends do? It’s everywhere.
Too many children associate more with happiness and design a conditional attachment to the outcome…
If I don’t get this, then you don’t love me.
It is our job to change that perspective and teach them what love truly is about…and quite frankly, what life is really all about.
In the land of plenty, there is principle.
Every time you say “no”, there is an educational opportunity for your child. Too often parents exclaim, “Because I said so!” What does that teach your child? I can only guess that the lesson with that response is one of authority and domination. May I suggest we explain our “no”s? How will our kids ever learn if we don’t teach them the value of no?
I make sure with every “no” I give; there is an explanation that has reasoning behind it. I believe they are not only deserving of this, but they will build much-needed problem solving abilities to accept “no”. How else will they develop such skills?
I want my message to be heard more than my “no”.
There are times when they argue with me, and don’t care to accept my explanation. That’s okay. I have noticed that although most times they are mad or disappointed, they often get the “why” to the “no”. I am delighted to share that the more I take the time to explain, the more they find insight and acceptance. There are also times when they have a good argument against my “no” and I honor it, with a shift to “yes”.
It’s in these conversations that lessons are learned and principles are placed.
I already see the fruits of my labor in my children’s perspective. At the young ages of 8 and 10, they get it. That doesn’t mean they are free from greed and entitlement, as I believe that will be a constant challenge for us all. But they understand the principles, with which our family is based, and ultimately they recognize the significance of “no”, and how valuable it truly is in maintaining a healthy perspective.
I can’t think of a better way to love my kids, than to say “no”. How do you see the value of saying “No” to your kids?
I’d like to think that “Yes” is based on privilege, not on indulgence…
And “no” is based on principle, not power.
Before having children, Chris Carter worked as a music therapist for several years in Chicago’s inpatient psychiatric hospitals. She also managed creative arts and recreation programming for four group homes. In that time of her life, she learned and grew to know the pain and suffering of so many people. She is now a stay-at-home mom and currently spends her days running kids to and from school four times a day, volunteering and keeping the house in some sort of order! She has a thriving blog, The Mom Cafe, where she regularly shares her mothering experience and wisdom.
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