It rolls off your tongue like honey off a spoon when your kids are little.
“No, you cannot use the sharpest knife, or any knife in the kitchen to cut those vegetables,” we tell our three-year-old.
“No, you cannot climb to the top shelf of that high bookshelf to see what the view is like.”
“No, you cannot hit your sister in the face because she played with your toy.”
We get so used to using that tiny word to protect our kids and to teach them acceptable behaviour that it comes out without us even registering it.
Some studies claim many parents resort to using that word up to 400 times a day!
Time passes, the kids grow up and, hopefully, more responsible, and we parents say it less and less.
Then one day we realize we’ve forgotten how to say it.
FEAR OF SAYING NO
Many boomer parents with young adult kids seem to be struggling with using this tiny word without drowning in a tsunami of guilt. Or is it fear? Or both?
The thing is, parenting doesn’t stop just because your kids are adults. My mother still points out to me when she thinks I’m doing something wrong.
The lovely writer Beverley Golden writes about the amazing influence her mother still has on her and the great example she lives, at age 100!
Read My Mother Taught Me Living to 100 Is All About Attitude and discover that parenting doesn’t end when your kids become adults and you can still have great influence with the example you set.
There are still things to teach – an opportunity to use our own life lessons to help our kids grow into better, stronger people.
We do this by example – they may be grown but they are still watching … and emulating.
If they see a people pleaser who has no time for their own interests and pursuits, that is likely the way they will choose to live.
Or, they could take the opposite road and become uncaring and selfish.
If you want your grown kids to live life to the fullest, take full responsibility for their choices (which usually results in making better choices) and achieve all that they want to achieve, you need to be showing them how.
And you know what that means? Using that little ‘no’ word occasionally.
By forgetting to use that tiny word when it counts, are we enabling our kids to take advantage and to become careless? Are we giving them a sense of entitlement that they don’t deserve?
I have been watching the struggles of a few friends lately who have forgotten how to use the ‘no’ word and as a result are living their lives vicariously through their children.
They are on constant and unrealistic call to babysit at the drop of a hat, hand over money they can’t afford and generally bail their kids out from all manner of messes.
The fact is most of us will do anything for our kids, but can we do what is really right for them?
By giving into all of their demands, especially when it impacts on our quality of life, are we actually doing them harm?
Could we be overprotecting them and taking away their power to solve (and even prevent) problems?
Don’t get me wrong. There have been many times Hubby and I have come to the rescue when our own kids have needed help and we’re happy to keep doing this – as long as they don’t keep making the same mistakes.
Fortunately, they usually don’t and we’re in a happy, helping place. I guess here’s the place I shamefully admit they sometimes call us Mr and Mrs Marshmallow, as we seem to give in so often.
We have a few friends who have welcomed their adult kids, complete with grandkids, to live in their home in order to save.
While there are compromises on all sides, the situation works because there is mutual respect and no one is taking the other for granted. Everyone is happy, and that is the key. When you find yourself unhappy, it’s time to say ‘no’.
On the few occasions Hubby and I have said that dreaded little word we have found that the kids find an alternative quite easily.
Our gift to them is the message that we trust them enough, as adults, to be able to sort out the problem without our involvement. They know we have their back when needed, but they also know not to take advantage.
In fact, we have found that as our kids get older, wiser and more financially stable, they are keen to do more for us.
Setting some boundaries has encouraged them to be creative thinkers and much better planners.
They delight in their independence and it has given them confidence and strength of character.
They have often expressed admiration for our busy, independent lives. This is the example we are living.
RECLAIM YOUR LIFE AND GET YOUR ‘NO’ MOJO BACK
This contrasts to the adult kids of the boomers who have lost their ‘no’ mojo.
I know several boomers whose quality of life has deteriorated because of their inability to let their grown children take care of themselves.
They have no time for themselves, are constantly stressed and are often dipping into their retirement savings to help out.
When you don’t have to pay for your mistakes, there is little incentive to make better choices and changes.
When you are so busy asking mum to do this or pay for that, you are not thinking of what you can do for yourself – or for anyone else.
I know it’s difficult when the emotions involving your own children are concerned – even harder when there are grandkids on the scene.
But the fact remains we are still the parents and we still have a job to do.
By constantly ‘rescuing’ them, we enable them to repeat the same mistakes over and over. Is this not just as harmful as allowing the three-year-old to use the sharp knife?
What are your thoughts?
Wishing you a gleeful week, Tamuria.