Home is Where Your Story Begins

April 20, 2011

NO!

Filed under: Life,Parenting — my3daughters @ 10:34 am

“No!”  It’s one of the first words a young child says.  It’s cute for the first two or three times then it quickly becomes annoying.  So we as parents say, “don’t you tell me that!” and break our children of what we consider a “bad habit”.  I agree that the disrespectful and stubborn “No!” of most toddlers should not be encouraged.  However, I think a lot of adults need to re-learn the word “No.”

Have you ever heard the saying “stop me before I volunteer again”?  It applies to people who don’t know how to say “No.”  They volunteer to be room parents, join the PTO, help with the bake sale, coach the team, lead the troop, provide the snacks—the list goes on and on.  ”But I’m doing it for my child,” they say.  To which I reply, “Really, and how does it benefit your child when you are too busy, too tired or too stressed to spend time with them? When you are feeling overwhelmed and frustrated and taking it out on them? When you are rundown because you can’t even find the time to eat properly or get enough sleep?”

Now, before you get mad at me for pointing fingers, know that I speak from experience.  There was a time when I didn’t know how to say “No” and my family suffered from it.  Fortunately someone wiser than me taught me to slow down before I ended up crashing.  Now I schedule downtime into my calendar every day, week and month.  I’m not suggesting you ignore your children.  That’s not healthy either.  I’m telling you that they will survive if you let someone else handle the bake sale.  Actually, they will thrive because they will have a less stressed out parent.  And you will be teaching them the value of a life that is a balance of work and play.

Not only do we need to tell others “No”, we need to tell our children “No.”  They may think they need every new toy and gadget on the market but they don’t.  I’ve had to tell my girls “No” a lot.  Amazingly, they are still alive.  I suggest giving your children an allowance instead.  Sit down with them, discuss what they will be required to spend their own money on and then help them budget.  If they really want something, help them develop a plan to save up the money.   Not only will this teach them a valuable lesson but it will remove stress from your life as well.  I know people who work two jobs just so their little prince or princess can have everything their heart desires.  Sure, everything but a relaxed and stress free parent who actually has time to spend with them.

Again, I speak from experience.  I was the only child of older parents, both of whom worked outside the home and had good incomes.  I was given everything and anything I wanted.  Imagine my shock when I had to start paying for things on my own.  It was very hard to go from having a new car, designer clothes, and the ability to eat out whenever I wanted, to driving an old car, shopping at a thrift store and considering a trip to McDonalds a major treat.  My parents thought they were being good parents, but in the long run it would have been better if they would have said “No” once in a while.  I am thankful that, while they indulged my every whim, they modeled a thrifty lifestyle.  I am able to look back now and put those lessons into practice.  Trust me; life is a lot better now than when I just had to have everything.

Not only do we need to tell our kids “No” when it comes to things that cost money, we need to tell them “No” when it comes to how they spend their time.  “No” you can’t watch TV while you do your homework.  Concentrate on your homework and get it finished so you can watch TV later.  What, do you really think their employers are going to let them have a TV in their cubical because “I can’t concentrate without the TV.”  Music played quietly (not burst your eardrums loud) is okay in my opinion.  There have actually been studies that show that certain types of music help with studies.

Here’s a hot topic—let’s say “No” to cell phones.  Now I’m not talking all the time because I would go crazy without my Crackberry.  However, I was at a party a few months ago and one of the parents commented about the girls all texting each other when they were in the same room.  Another parent pointed out that even some parents are guilty of it and used me as an example.  Yes, I was sitting there checking email and Facebook.  Thanks, friend, I appreciate your honesty and I am now very conscious of when I need to put my phone away.

Cell phones have no place in school and I love that our school district has a ban on them.  I just wish the parents would step up and help enforce this.  No cell phones in school means I should not be seeing Facebook status updates during school hours.  I have a lot of kids on my Facebook and they know that Ms Dawn will say something if she seems them on during school hours.  But why am I parenting your child?  And why aren’t you one of their Facebook friends?  There’s the parent who said, “I want my daughter to be able to reach me if she needs me.”  I didn’t have a cell phone growing up and I was still able to reach my parents if I needed them.  See, there are these interesting things in the school office called telephones and if you are sick or need your lunch that you forgot, the office staff will let you use them to call your parents.  Actually, all the schools in our district have a telephone in each classroom.  Little Sally or Tommy don’t even have to walk to the office to use the phone.  Amazing, isn’t it?

Cell phones also have no place during homework time.  Exactly how can you focus on your homework when you are getting and sending text messages constantly?  You can’t.  And Facebook (or any other socializing) can wait until after homework is finished.  We weren’t allowed to play or talk on the phone with our friends (yes, it is possible to actually have a verbal conversation with a friend using a phone) until our homework was done.

So how are your child’s grades?  Not so good? Well then how saying “No” to the cell phone, computer, trips to friends’ houses, parties, dances, trips to the mall (for those of you with girls) until the grades come up?  Wait, you say, weren’t you just talking earlier about a need for balance between work and play?  Yes, and I still am.  But if your child is doing poorly in school, they should not be rewarded with “fun” activities.  They can stay home and read, play games or watch TV after they finish their homework.  This is especially true for teens.  In my experience, they will be motivated to get those grades up so they don’t miss out.  And when they get into the “real world (not the one on MTV), if they do poorly at their job, they won’t have the money to do anything “fun.”  For now, school is their job and they need to do it to the best of their ability.

I could go on and on about areas that I feel we need to say “No” to our children.  Say “No” to staying up late on a school night (on a regular basis).  Say “No” to cooking them something different if they don’t like what’s for dinner.  You get the idea.  So learn to say “No.”  Say it loud, say it proud.  It’s what’s best for you AND your entire family.

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