Hi awesome mommies,
As a parent, saying no is hard. Really hard sometimes. Here are a few examples from my life.
Whining in Alaska
I was fourteen when my dad took me on a trip to Alaska. For part of the time (while he fished for salmon over on the inlet), he left me with my grown sisters who lived in a small town called Girdwood (awesome little place!).
I made friends in Girdwood, and … a boyfriend. (Yeah, I kissed boys at the way-too-young age of fourteen. Seems ridiculous now. Definitely not allowed in our house.)
When time came to go home, I told my dad I wanted to stay another two weeks. He could go on home without me, and I’d fly back later by myself. Sounded reasonable to my young-teen mind. I’d get to hang out longer with my boyfriend and he’d stay on schedule.
He said no.
Shocking! He said no…to…me?!
I’m embarrassed to admit I cried, and wailed, and threw a tantrum until he changed his mind and let me stay.
What did this teach me?
- I could get what I wanted if I threw a fit.
- I could put my own desires before my family’s.
- I had more power than my dad.
I’m not trying to criticize my dad’s decision. He did the best he could. I just wish he would’ve known to not let me win. I wish he would’ve made me learn to deal with disappointment the right way and lay aside my selfishness.
The other day I trudged to our lake with my four kids (plus a friend) for a little swimming and barbecue. As we arrived, my daughter informed me she forgot her goggles. “I’d like to walk home and get them. Will you give me the keys to the house?”
Sounded reasonable to her ten-year-old mind.
We only live a five-minute walk from the lake, but I didn’t feel comfortable letting her walk home by herself. I couldn’t leave all the other kids who were already swimming like little guppies alone at the park, so I couldn’t go with her.
I said no.
Tears. Wailing. “I can’t practice my strokes without my goggles.” More weeping. “But I’m TEN, Mama! How old do I have to BE?” I explained that I grew up on a lake and swam countless hours without goggles. That didn’t work, of course.
Despite my encouraging her to jump in and have fun even without the goggles, she chose to sit on the bench next to me crying for an hour. Yes, an hour she could’ve been splashing in the lovely water beneath a sunny, warm sky, she sat and cried.
Was I tempted to change my mind and let her go? Yes. I’m only human. Of course I wanted to end the goggle heartbreak. But, I kept telling myself not to let her win, not to teach her that throwing a tantrum would get her what she wanted. So I told her I loved her and endured.
Then, without warning, she threw off her covering and ran into the water. I guess she finally got tired of watching others have fun without her. She splashed and played for the rest of our time, full of laughs and smiles.
What did she learn?
- Ain’t nobody the boss ‘cept Mama!
- Throwing a tantrum will not prove successful.
- Choosing to pout instead of participate only hurts her.
- If she tries, she can have fun swimming even without goggles (this may apply to other areas of life as well.)
It was hard to say no, but I’m glad I did. And maybe someday my girl will thank me. We’ll just have to wait and see.
Have a great day and remember to keep loving your kids like there’s no tomorrow.