It is not a popular word, but it is a word everybody knows. In fact, it was probably your or your child’s first word. This one, small, magic word will save you from a lot of the headaches, and heartaches, of parenting–no.
Parents, grab hold of the powerful word no and do not let go. Believe it or not, learning when and how to effectively say no will change your life and your child’s.
Henry Cloud, author of Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No, to Take Control of Your Life, says very simply that people who understand boundaries know what they are and are not responsible for. If they’re responsible for it, they say yes. If they’re not, they say no. I know what you’re thinking. Easier said than done.
Parents, grab hold of the powerful word NO and do not let go. Believe it or not, learning when and how to effectively say no will change your life and your child’s.
I’ve noticed, particularly with mothers, that we parents fail to say no because we don’t want to hurt others’ feelings. But the truth is, we end up hurting others’ feelings more when we become resentful and angry because we said yes when we shouldn’t have. Yes to a social event, a position on the board, running an errand for a friend, volunteering at church. All of these are good things, but whenever we say yes to one thing, we sacrifice another and often times that is time with our families or precious time for ourselves.
Most importantly, our children need to learn how to say no. Many teen girls report having sex with their boyfriends even though they didn’t want to simply because they couldn’t say no or didn’t know how to. How do we teach our kids the power of no? By modeling it ourselves.
Whenever we say yes to one thing, we sacrifice another and often times that is time with our families or precious time for ourselves.
Let Your No Be No
Right after Jesus gave the Sermon on the Mount, he addressed his listeners about the way they spoke. Jesus said, “But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No’” (Matt. 5:37). Make up your mind, stick to your beliefs, be clear and don’t make excuses. No waffling, no second-guessing at everything, just do what is good and right.
If you can’t attend a social event, just say no, not maybe. If your child wants to play a sport you know you can’t afford for him to play, don’t say let’s see, just tell him no. This will teach your child that yeses and no’s are black and white, and he will come to respect your honesty and value that honesty for himself.
Let Your Friend’s No Be No
How many times have you insisted on bringing a side dish to a friend’s dinner party even when she said she had it covered? All this does is stress both you and her out. If your friend says no, trust it. Don’t force a yes. Maybe she really means it. Maybe she really doesn’t want you to bring cheese and crackers and you are annoying her with your persistence. Trusting others when they say no will help you trust yourself to say no more often too.
Just Say No…to Yourself
We all have negative thoughts running through our heads at any given moment. Negative thoughts about our bodies, performance, personality or capabilities. This is why it’s so important for us to say no to ourselves when we are in this negative pattern of thinking.
When a negative thought comes in your head, write it down. Stare at it. Hear the words–as ugly as they may be–and write them on paper. Then, reject them. Fight them. Give them a whack. And when they return, do the same. Consistently telling your negative thoughts no will make you like yourself more, and this affects everyone around you. Who wants to be around a mom who doesn’t even want to be around herself?
Say it with me. NO. The word is not mean. It is not disrespectful. If anything, the word no is the most respectful word you can say for yourself and for your family. Practice saying it this week and see how much more enjoyable parenting, and life, can be.