Monday, December 19, 2011

Do You Say No To Your Children?

As we hit the homerun stretch of the holiday season, one of the most important words, we as parents can learn to say is "no".  I realize that I'm starting this post off on a rather negative note, and it's certainly not my style, but it's a hard lesson to learn and I was reminded of it just this week.  All you have to do is spend a little time out in the malls shopping with a child or observing others shopping with their children to see what I'm talking about.  Some parenting personality styles have more trouble saying no than others.  For instance, if you are  'D' personality, you probably wonder why anyone would write a post about saying no, nevermind have trouble saying the words.  However, if you are any of the 3 remaining personality styles you understand the problem from a different perspective.  'I' personalities don't say no because they love to say yes to everything fun, exciting and festive about the holiday season.  'S' personalities probably have the most trouble saying no because they want to please everyone and don't want to disappoint anyone.  Finally, 'C' personalities have trouble saying no because they want to make absolutely sure they have gotten all the facts before they make a decision and say no to anything. 

Of course during this time of year it's not just about saying no to children and all their requests for gifts this season, there are many areas in our lives where saying no is healthy and a good idea.  Do you limit yourself and say no to material things that you can't afford?  Do you make careful choices about where you spend your time or do you say yes to everything that comes down the pike because you don't want to miss out on any experience?  Do you say yes to things because you'd feel guilty if you said no, even though you really don't want to spend your time doing what you just agreed to do?  Finally, do you say yes to things because you don't want your child to be unhappy even though you can't afford monetarily or time-wise to honor their request?

As parents, I'm not sure we realize what a disservice we do to our children when we always say yes and don't teach them the value of saying no.  Of course we spoil them with too many material things but the real danger is that by never modeling how to say no, we never teach them to say no to themselves as adults. I was reminded of this lesson myself when teaching  a Dave Ramsey Financial Peace group. One of the young adults in the group explained that budgeting was extremely hard for her because as a child growing up, her parents managed to somehow buy everything she wanted, even if it meant sacrificing themselves.  Consequently now as an adult, she has a very hard time saying no to herself whenever she wants something even when it wrecks havoc with their financial life.   We don't just spoil our children for the moment.  We also model for them how to handle their future decisions. 

How do you as a parent balance saying no with saying yes to your children?  How successful are you at saying no to yourself?  Where do you think you learned that?


  1. Very helpful and timely piece, Lynne. I used to be an "S", but I've grown into a much more of the "D" style over the years, especially in raising my children. Had to be firm! :)
    Thanks for sharing your wonderful thoughts.

  2. Great post. Kids might not always appreciate when we say no, but saying no oftentimes lays down healthy boundaries, and kids in the long run, appreciate those and thrive in them.

  3. I wish more parents would read this, Lynne...There's too many of them trying so hard to be popular with their children and ruining them for life!

  4. @Martha, I think I have also grown into a stronger 'D' style parent myself but it has been quite a struggle for me. I write this article as much for myself as others!
    @Jessica--boundaries are so important! Thanks for pointing that out
    @Corinne--you are so right. Working in a school, I see this approach to parenting all the time.
    Thanks to all for the comments!!