Why You Should Say No

If you ask your husband to go to dinner at your favorite restaurant, and he says he doesn’t want to go there, how does that feel?

If you ask your best friend if she can come over because you are feeling sad, but she is unable to, how does that feel?

Do either of these situations stir up in you a feeling that these people in your life are rejecting who you fundamentally are as a person?

Of course not.

Or, I certainly hope not.

You are able to understand that your desires don’t take priority at all times. You know it doesn’t mean your family and friends don’t love you.

What if your partner told you no, you can’t go to that restaurant? What if he locked you in your room because you asked too many times?

You would quickly, I hope, leave this relationship.

How would you feel if you asked your partner to go to the restaurant and he said yes? And then he sat looking miserable the whole time, maybe even snapping at you? How would you feel if when you got home, he quickly rushed around from task to task, exasperated with all the things he had to do because he spent time with you? He wakes up the next day exhausted, unable to give of himself. And in the back of your head, you know he is thinking: This is your fault!

Would that feel good to you? Would you feel like your partner valued his time with you? Do you want your partner constantly draining themselves in order to feed your every little desire?

Of course not.

Or, I certainly hope not!

We have a deep desire to make our children feel that we are on their team. We want for them to feel validated in being their authentic selves.

The best way to do this is stop viewing children as fundamentally different from adults. They are only developmentally different. They have the same needs as us, largely. To be loved. To feel understood. To be mentored in things that they don’t yet understand.

It sucks when we don’t get what want. Of course we want what we want. That’s why we want it. But we can deal. Our reactions are mild.

Kids cannot control their emotions in the same way that adults can. They’re developmentally different. Very young children do not have impulse control yet. Even once it begins to develop, the decision-making part of your brain isn’t fully developed until early adulthood.

But does that mean that they feel that a “no” answer is a fundamental violation of who they are as a person? No. It doesn’t. All that it means is that they don’t have the tools yet to manage their own disappointment.

Not getting what you want already sucks. It would be much worse if people were yelling at us, lying to us. If they were trying to help, but feeling guilty and stressed. If they were slowly building resentment towards us.

I would rather have no favors done for me than ones with that price tag.

Kids ultimately feel the same way, even if they can’t say it. They can handle a “no”.

What they can’t handle is a parent who can’t handle saying “no.”

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