Tip #22 – Get Comfortable with Saying No

Oct 12

We live in a Yes culture.  With an abundant society such as the one in which we live, we don’t have much choice.  Back in the day (wa-a-a-ay back) when the family’s dinner consisted of what little food they could scrape together, a parent didn’t have to say no.  Any child could clearly see there were no seconds to be eaten.  There were no desserts to beg over.  There were few, if any toys, to ask for.  Fast forward to today.  Kids are surrounded by a cornucopia of opportunities to eat, play, and purchase till their every desire is satiated (at least for that moment).

That means the burden of self-control falls upon the parents’ shoulders.  Sure, the kids could play video games all day.  Just like they could eat chips and chocolate bars between every meal.  They could own the best digital devices on the market.  And they could update their Facebook profiles every five minutes.  But none of that is good for them, despite their misguided belief that it is, in fact, exactly what they need to find true happiness.

In my home, the screen is the dangling carrot for my kids, beckoning them the second that a sliver of boredom creeps into their consciousness.  ”Mom, can I play computer?”  ”Mom, can I play with your iPhone?”  ”Mom, can we play wii?”  I don’t enjoy saying no.  I really don’t.  However, in my efforts to teach them to entertain themselves as well as instil in them a sense of responsible use of time, I am forced to say no way more than they’d like to hear.

In return, I’ve received my fair share of unkind utterances from my boys.  The most popular among them is calling me the meanest mom they know.  I don’t take it personally, although sometimes it does sting just a little.  But my reward is seeing them outside playing games, skateboarding, bike riding, or building a fort in the woods when they could have been sitting in the basement staring at the screen.  All thanks to that little two-lettered word.  One day when they’re older, I tell them, they’ll realize that it was their reward, too.

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