In a recent conversation with my best friend over Facebook Messenger, I couldn’t help but notice how utterly exhausted she sounded. Over the past few days, she had been juggling the care of her three daughters, each of whom had fallen ill and required trips to the doctor. As we chatted, she explained that despite her exhaustion, she still had to pick up her teenager from school. It made me wonder why she didn’t opt for her daughter to take the bus instead. Her response surprised me; her daughter had stayed after school for sports pictures, even though she was no longer actively involved in the sport due to an injury. This added another layer of responsibility to my best friend’s already full plate.
The weekend was fast approaching, and Saturday held special significance for my best friend. She was celebrating the completion of her nurse practitioner’s program with a grand brunch. However, her teenager expressed a strong desire to attend a sporting event on the same day. That’s when I decided to step in and offer my perspective. I reminded her that Saturday was her day, a day she had been looking forward to for weeks. I encouraged her to assert herself and say “no” to her daughter’s request. I even demonstrated, over-exaggerating the word “NO,” and encouraged her to repeat it with me.
As parents, it’s common to go to great lengths to please our children, often to the point of exhaustion. However, it’s high time we recognized that self-care also includes the ability to say “no.” Straining ourselves trying to fulfill every request is detrimental to our well-being. Furthermore, our efforts are not always appreciated as they should be. I’ve heard children say things like, “Well, I didn’t ask to be here,” as if it justifies pushing their parents to their limits. While it’s true that some parents might overcompensate due to various reasons, those of us from the Gen X generation practically raised ourselves, and it didn’t harm us; it built resilience and self-sufficiency.
As mothers, we often grapple with mom guilt, especially when work keeps us from being there with our children. Nevertheless, it’s crucial to set boundaries when it comes to our kids. We can’t allow them to overwhelm us just because we brought them into this world. We need time to recharge, and sometimes, that means we have to say “NO.” Teaching our children that “no” is a healthy word is essential. They need to understand that they’ll hear it from time to time because saying “no” can prevent them from developing unhealthy habits, help them grasp the concept of consequences, and impart lessons in self-discipline.
While parenting may come with its challenges and moments of guilt, it’s vital to strike a balance between meeting our children’s needs and preserving our own health and sanity. By teaching our children that “no” is a healthy word, we empower them to navigate life’s complexities with resilience and maturity.
In the end, saying “no” isn’t just an act of self-preservation; it’s a valuable tool for nurturing well-rounded, responsible, and considerate individuals who understand the importance of boundaries, empathy, and self-sufficiency.