I feel like I say no to my kids a lot.
They ask me to do anything and everything from buying toys in the grocery aisle, to calling a friend for a playdate when we’re in the middle of a bajillion other things.
“Mom, can I… just this once… pleeeeeeeeease?!”
Ugggghhhh…. Why do you make me say no to you every day?!
I feel like a bad parent because their requests require me to be restrictive. Then because I say no to so many things, it wears me down and I want to give in. Why? So I don’t feel like a bad parent.
Ask and You Will Receive
Reality check: kids push boundaries. They see how far they can get with us, not because they’re evil little manipulators, but because they’re kids and learning their own sense of right and wrong, appropriate and inappropriate, good and bad timing. They can ask… sure, they can ask! But they will receive an answer, and as per my Mommy discretion, the best answer may be no.
What happens inside of me is my issue to deal with. If I’m feeling pressured to say yes, did my kids really do that to me? Yes and no. When I believe I am their loving leader and not their magic genie, my objectives change and I can rest in the power of my authority to deny their sweet request.
What happens when you say no is that a healthy boundary is drawn and chaos is brought into the order of your family’s values. It doesn’t naturally feel “good” because we were made to be relational people (especially woman), and we’re drawn to care and nurture our babies. Saying no is so hard because it brings us to a crossroads in our mind and heart. It’s a type of confrontation, but one that protects the character of our kids.
How to Say No
Sometimes when their requests reach an obnoxiously excessive limit, I have to look at them in the eye and ask why they’re being so needy.
“Honey, you’ve been asking for a lot of stuff lately. We can go to the park, just not right now. When we get home, we can look at a good day to do that, okay?” (Lesson: Time and Place)
“Baby girl, this toy is not something that’s necessary in your life right now. You can wish for it, but I’m telling you right now that we need to go through the other toys you haven’t been playing with first. You’ll have to save up your own money for this if it’s that important to you.” (Lesson: Value of a Dollar)
“Guys, please stop asking. [This thing] is not going to happen today. I heard you and I’ll think about it, but when you keep bugging about it, it get’s annoying really fast. Show me that you’re grateful where you are and we’ll talk about it later.” (Lesson: Gratefulness and Contentment)
I find that when my kids are discontent, it’s either because they’ve been overindulged or need more quality personal connection with me or Dad. What happens when you say no is that you make room for the real issue of their heart. You put a temporary hold on their perceived need and gently guide them back to their why, and hold them accountable for their own little feelings and priorities.
Why I Fight Saying No
Bottom line, in that moment when I’m torn about giving in, I’m worried about what my kids will think of me. I’m afraid I won’t be seen as helpful, accommodating, or even loving. I dread their precious disappointed faces because deep inside I feel like I’m failing them.
But if I carry that train of thought longer than a few seconds and don’t allow the truth to step in, I would go on spoiling my kids forever. I would justify that they needed that thing or that opportunity, and that’s what good parents do.
Parents, when we’re pressured to give in against our better judgement, we need this truth to keep us grounded: I am the parent, God has trusted these kids to me, and I need to model boundaries for them.
For Mom’s With Young Kids
The most difficult time in my life were the toddler years…before they could reason and explain what they needed. I felt like the piercing screams were ripping my heart out of my chest, and I would do anything to get them to stop. I feel you, Mama. You’re doing the best that you can. As I remember back, more often than not they just needed me to be close to them. Distracted and taken away from the temptation… and then to be held close.
Begin with the end in mind. You are shaping their character, and what happens when you say no at this age is the establishment of one foundational brick at a time. You’re building consistency in the mind of your baby, a secure foundation of love and care that says you’re safe and can be trusted.
What Happens When God Says No
The way we relate to our kids is a direct reflection of our relationship with God. He’s a good Father, and says yes, no, and wait. His timing and plans are perfect and He never stops being good, caring, loving and guiding us, even when we don’t understand His timing.
When our hearts are submitted to Him, He will show us what is good, right and best for us.
Reality check: I push boundaries. I want to know things before I’m ready, spend money when I don’t have it, and move on to the next phase of life before I’ve learned the last lesson. “Just a little bit, God? Just this once? And I’ll do anything you want after that!”
When we practice submitting to our loving Father, believing that He’s not holding back on us, He gives us the strength to lay down healthy boundaries with our kids. When I know who I am first: loved and cherished by God, appointed as a strong and loving leader to my family, I am less likely to look for approval in the eyes of my kids, or anyone else for that matter.
Rest your identity as a parent on the solid promises of God, and trust that He is gently guiding you to build that strong foundation for your babies.
What can you change about the way you respond to your kids this week? Practice standing your ground when pressed with their disappointment, and know that you are building a better human.