When it’s Ok to say “No”

I remember growing up in a military family.  As kids we would ask to go grocery shopping with our parents at the commissary on Saturday morning hoping to get dibs on cookies, candies anything else that would delight our appetites. I was hoping that my pleas would be heard by my parents. “Please can I have these Oreo cookies?” Then my sister would give it a try and she would get the same “No” from our parents.  Our efforts were pointless.   We were going to hear “No” every time we asked for treats.

frustrated couple

As I grew older I would try different approaches on my dad. My mother would just say, “Ask your father.” It was always the same answer “No”.  Looking back I could see why they would answer with “No”.  Most of the things I asked for were either food or money related. I’m glad that my dad said no.  It taught me a work ethic even as a kid mowing grass and doing odd jobs. I came to appreciate earning my own money and buying my own things. A lot of today’s kids get things handed to them just to quiet them up.

I have been in the grocery store and have watched parents give their kids whatever they wanted just to stop their whining. I hear parents in my office talk about giving their kids electronics for school and then complain when their kids play endless games with them, ignoring their school work.

When my daughter was growing up she had the same thought process that I did. “When dad goes to the store I will hit him up for candy, donuts, etc.”  I’m not a total “No” dad and here were times that she did a great job on her homework, or did her chores on time or she might have gone out of her way to do something nice for our neighbor in need.  I would find ways to reward her for her efforts.

The one thing I did differently from my parents, was to take time to explain to my daughter why I was saying no and what she could do to earn money so she could buy the things she wanted. Some of the parents that I work with feel that having their children do chores is cruel and unreasonable punishment.

Being a responsible parent teaches our children to act responsibly with their money they can earn from doing chores, birthday money, whatever the reason to save and spend wisely. Saying no doesn’t make you a bad parent when your child or grandchild comes to you asking for money. If they haven’t earned it don’t be an enabler and hand it over to them because they keep asking.

Saying no means being self-disciplined and being a parent who cares enough to sit down and explain why they are saying no. This usually stops the badgering from the child. I have to say that when my dad told me no, he did me a big favor. As a 14 year old teenager I had my own lawn mowing service and did pretty well thanks to my dad. He provided the mower and trash bags to get me started. He taught me how to run my own small business.  I have carried those lessons with me throughout my adult life and have served me well.

In closing, if you are having a difficult time in saying no, don’t be intimidated by your children, family, or friends. Do you need help learning to say no? Are you afraid that saying no will distance you from those you love? Standing strong will help you take back control of your life and not allow you to be taken advantage of. If you answered yes to any on these questions give Dr. Mike a call and set up an appointment with him today.


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