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. Human nature drowns us in entitlement, spilling into the river of excess and gluttony, soaking us with spoiled selfishness. It’s my job to stop the waves from crashing in…
Children have a relentless yearning for more. We are all born with this elusive self-centered hunger, aren’t we? It is up to us parents to help our kids shift their perspective from the constant need for instant gratification, to a deeper understanding of self control. 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 own lives as well. Even as adults, we 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 can often lead to more. Setting limits is imperative, in order to lead a healthy and productive life. Not having each and every opportunity or item that we desire is a reality and a good one at that! It takes great awareness, discernment and patience to choose yes or no to everything that comes our way. 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, or 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 dismisses 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. And if we are honest with ourselves, don’t we grapple with greed as well?
Too many children associate more with happiness and design a conditional attachment to getting what they want…
“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.
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.
May I suggest we explain our “no”s?
I make sure with every “no” I give; there is an explanation that has reasoning behind it. I believe our kids are not only deserving of this, but through this process, they will build much-needed problem solving abilities to accept “no”. How else will they develop the insight and wisdom to make their own decisions?
I want my message to be heard more than my “no”.
There are times when my kids 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”. The more I take the time to explain, the more they understand and accept the answer. 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. My kids can process through decisions that will help them navigate their own answers as they grow to be independent thinkers.
I already see the fruits of my labor in my children’s perspective. At the young ages of 9 and 11, 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 values our family holds, and ultimately they recognize the significance of “no” fitting into that foundation. They choose reasoning over desire to make many decisions often, and I’m proud of their ability to dive beyond the impulse and often set their own limits.
I’m sure as they get older, this idea will present more challenges! I’d like to think I am building the groundwork for all decisions in my children’s lives, through taking the time to teach them the value of “no”.