If You Love Your Kids, You Must Say 'No' To Them ... And OFTEN

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saying no to kids parenting advice

"Can you please just stop saying no?" my exasperated daughter exclaims.

"Um….no." I reply to her cautiously, unsure of the reaction out of her that I might need to deal with next.

We were at the playground where what I thought would be a fun afternoon had suddenly turned sour when my full-time job as her mother intertwined with my other job as her referee/disciplinarian.

My dreams of flipping through a magazine on a park bench while I smiled at my children, listening to their shrieks of joy while thinking about how lucky I was, had turned into something that sounded more like this; "No, don't climb on top of the monkey bars. No, don't touch the baby rabbits! No,don't stick your hands in the trash can! Nomsorry, we can't get ice cream from the ice cream man. No, sorry I can't let you go home with the little boy you just met. No, don't push her. No, you don't take his toys! No, sorry we can't stay any longer."

The long series of questions in which I had answered "no" had escalated to this very moment, where the face of my clearly annoyed daughter finally asked me: "Can you please just stop saying no?"

Let me back up a bit. I spend a great deal of my time saying no to my children.

I do it with my toddler on a near constant basis: "No, you can't eat that. No, don't touch that. No, don't climb on that."

Unfortunately it doesn't seem to end, as I've come to realize with my first grader: "No, we can't do that. No, we can't buy that. No, we can't go there."

I feel bad … but not really.

Don't get me wrong: It's not like I enjoy saying no per say; it's just that it doesn't really bother me. As their mother, it's my job to protect them, teach them, and help them grow into amazing adults. Unfortunately, my kids don't have the foresight to see the road ahead; they only see the moment rightthisverysecond, where their instinct is to throw caution to the wind, do really fun things, eat really yummy things, buy everything, and run around naked. 

Sorry, no. Just no. That's not happening.

I do feel bad that they can't get/do/have what they want, but at the same time I don't. I don't feel bad about telling them "no" for reasons that while I try to explain, they might not understand for years to come. While I know it's not what they want to hear, I know it's what they need to hear. I have been gifted with the privilege of being their mother and I will do right by them. I will make sure to give them what they need, regardless of the fact that they may resent me for it now.

So to answer my daughter's questions, "Can you stop saying no!?"


because I love you.

Eden Strong is a freelance writer who can be found speaking (what's left of her mind) about single motherhood, recovering from abuse, and everyday humor on her blog "It Is Not My Shame To Bear." You can also catch up with Eden on her Facebook.

This article was originally published at Scary Mommy. Reprinted with permission from the author.