I think previous generations doled out a firm “no” easier than some of us today. In fact, a stranger walked up to me and my baby in the mall one time and offered an odd bit of advice (as people often do to new moms). The old woman said, “The most important thing you can do as a parent is to mean it when you say, ‘No.’” I smiled and nodded, wondering if this was a personal regret of hers or a general criticism of parents today. Naïvely, I assumed I’d have no problem giving my child boundaries and sticking to them.
But I admit, I have been guilty of saying “no” as a reflex then second-guessing myself. Kids ask so many questions, it can be overwhelming: “Can I have a play date?” “Can I have some ice cream?” “Can I watch TV?” They want things and we hold the power to grant their wishes. I hate it when I initially say "no", then reconsider and realize I can say "yes." Therefore, my favorite answer (and one I remember my own mother giving) is to say, “Let me think about it.” Magically, time gives me perspective and strengthens my resolve. Somehow stepping away from the topic also seems to help my daughter accept my answer. Or best of all, she actually forgets what she asked for.
So, I’m torn on the yes/no issue. The other day I told my seven-year-old to hang up her clean clothes. This is a task I usually do for her, but am trying to transition onto her shoulders. She asked if I would help. Because she has trouble squeezing the levers on the pants hangers, I decided that I would. She brought me the empty hangers, I placed the clothes on them and then she hung the outfits in the closet. In fact, she smiled as we worked together. Before I knew it, the laundry was put away. Afterwards, I felt good about the compromise.
Until my daughter said something that I couldn’t quite decide how to take. She said, “I love you, Mommy, because you always say yes.”
Does that mean I’m a good mom?
What do you think? Should parents try to find ways to say “yes” more often?
(If you enjoyed this post, you’d probably like A Mom’s Life: Warm Fuzzies, Food & Fun available at amazon.com. The paperback would make a great Mother's Day gift or present for a new mom.)