mojo picture


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.



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 in to 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.




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.






  • Being a parent who has the ‘job’ of laying the foundations for their children’s future and teaching them the difference between right and wrong, is a tough one but the rewards are seeing these children grow up into fine adults.

    I do remember my parent’s often said no to us but they used logic and we in turn used logic to get what we wanted. 😉

    I remember a time when my parents were helping out a younger couple by babysitting their 3 year old daughter when their babysitter gazumped and it was their wedding anniversary. My sister and I chipped in too and all went well except the little girl kept doing little things that could have hurt her – like trying to pull the tail of our dachshund Jinnie who wasn’t amused. My Mom kept saying No and later, her parents told us that she liked visiting ‘Aunty No’s’ home because there was a dog. 🙂

  • With Mothers Day in the USA coming up, the timing of this topic couldn’t be better as it is another perspective for adult kids & moms to explore.
    One of the best gifts I get from time to time from my son who lives far away is a call where he wants to discuss a work situation, relationship or parenting issue. He values my input and likes how he has turned out.
    We are fortunate that with our blended family we balance yes & no that work for us. My hubby’s greatest problem is letting one of the boys pay for him. An opportunity is coming up this Sunday & he has agreed to just offer to pay the tip. This will be a breakthru.

    • Roz, I agree, it is so wonderful when your adult kids seek your advice – the best validation as parents. Congrats on the breakthrough – it is vital to let them have a turn at treating us. One of my sons and his wife are taking us to dinner tomorrow night and I can tell they are really excited about it – I am too. 🙂

  • I agree with NOT saying yes out of obligation or that if we do say yes to others it does NOT mean saying no to ourselves. I also believe there is power in how we can reframe a no into saying something that eliminates the word no and sks questions like: what else could you do, or what is another idea, or what if you try this instead…??? This can spark creativity and open up different avenues of exploration. Depending on the situation a no word can feel very energetically draining and limiting when instead a reframe can feel empowering. Great food for thought – thanks for the article.

    • Teresa, that is excellent advice and you are right, saying ‘no’ can be so draining. Reframing it can turn what appears to be a negative into a positive.

  • Thank you for saying this, Tamuria! So many parents have a tough time still being parents as kids are growing into adulthood, and the repercussions are pretty stark. I especially love: “By constantly ‘rescuing’ them, we enable them to repeat the same mistakes over and over.” Truer words!
    Great insights here.

    • I think people get caught up in wanting to be their adult kids’ friend, Susan, forgetting they already have plenty of friends and what they need are parents. We need to step back and let them make their own mistakes and learn from them when we can.

  • I agree that saying no is important, especially for older children. When I came back from school, my mom set the ground rules and said, if you live here, you need to pay rent. I paid her once a month plus my other bills. It lite a fire under me to get my own house. So, within three years, I got married and we moved into our new home. Setting the ground rules is important. Thanks for the reminder. I need to remember this when my kids come back from college.

    • This is a great example of how saying ‘no’ and setting boundaries encourages adult kids to move forward with their own lives Sabrina.I think expectations have changed, making it a little trickier fo parents these days.

  • My comments are exactly the same as yours. If you don’t learn how to say “no,” not just to your kids but to everything you don’t want in your life, you’re not living your own life — but yielding to other people’s needs. What an awful example to set for others!

    • You are so right Jackie – it’s important to know when to say ‘no’ to everything you don’t want in your life. This way you take full responsibility for your own life – nowhere else to put the blame – and you are setting a stronger, happier example.

  • First of all, big THANK YOU for being so kind to me and sharing my post celebrating my mother on her 100th birthday! I am surprised and very appreciative, Tami!

    As far as saying “no”. I have to say that I don’t think my mother ever said no to me and as far as my daughter, an only child and only grandchild, the word “no” is definitely an unknown. My dear Gemini daughter learned from a young age how to get people to say “yes” to her and I fear we did her a great disservice in not saying “no” sooner and more often. Even today, she seems to have everyone wrapped around her finger, as people just want to help her and say yes to her all the time. In spite of all this, she is a delightful spirit and has a very kind and giving heart and has learned to be responsible, albeit a little bit later than some, and is building a life out of the limelight of the TV show she grew up doing. I personally know I do not have an easy time saying “no” either. I love the Paulo Cohelo quote and it is very similar to something Dr. Northrup recently said: “When you say “Yes” to something you don’t want to do, you say “No” to something you do want.” Funny how for some of us, we learn that saying no is somehow associated with feeling guilty afterwards. Lots of things to think about in this post, including saying “no” more often.

    • Adult kids are probably the hardest group of people to refuse anything so I really understand you not using that word Beverley. Sounds like your daughter is amazing regardless. Sometimes, saying ‘no’ is more about helping yourself, as the quote says. When we start to feel resentment about the lack of time, or appreciation, then we know it is time to use that word.

  • My oldest is in his second year of college. I tried to interfere too much last year. This year I have pretty much kept my mouth shut and not rescued him. I am starting to see a few small changes. It may take a while, but letting them grow, including allowing them to experience the consequences of their actions is probably the best thing I have done for him.

    • It’s great you can see the benefits of stepping back a bit – so hard to do, especially with our first born kids I think.We are so used to protecting our kids from everything it’s difficult to allow them to learn from their own mistakes without trying to rescue them from themselves.

  • Since I don’t have kids, I can’t personally relate to this. However, I did find it interesting that after I was grown and on my own, my mother had no problem saying no to me, yet she couldn’t say no to her friends. She eventually became the only one in her circle who could still drive and she found herself carting people and their walkers around to various doctor’s appointments. It was wearing her out but she felt guilty because if she said no they would have to take a taxi!

    • Learning how to say ‘no’ can apply to anyone who is feeling stressed and used by others. It is often guilt that stops us, but I think I’d rather live with the guilt and deal with it then to have resentment about what I do. Sounds like your Mum was a great friend but was being taken advantage of.

  • I so agree! My parents were pretty strict with my sister and me growing up, especially money-wise. We had part time jobs from a very young age and we’re always responsible for purchases we wanted to make. I sometimes wished they had indulged us a little more, but have come to appreciate the self sufficiency they instilled. I am trying o walk a little less severe line with my son while still helping him grow into a responsible and contributive member of society.

    • It’s hard to get the balance just right but I guess the best gauge is how you feel about whatever you do. If you’re feeling stressed, resentful, or used then it’s time to start using the ‘no’ word.

  • Joan M Harrington

    May 7, 2016 at 7:36 am

    Hey Tamuria 🙂

    Great post! As I was reading I was thinking to myself, I wish I had said “NO” more often to my kids…..especially my daughter 😉 I let tons of things “slide” with her so many times…..looking back I wish I had been more tougher…….Now she is 25, working full time, living on her own and became a very responsible adult, so I guess being too lax did not hurt her just made her take responsibilty later on……was I a good mom, I believe I was and I raised them the best way I could. My son will be 21 in July and I am very blessed with 2 amazing adult children who are learning to take full responsibility for their actions and live their life true to them. Makes me happy.

    Great post!

  • Renee groskreutz

    May 8, 2016 at 7:52 am

    We have to say no to our kids for so many reasons. A couple of weeks back our daughter called us out of the blue from college. She said that we should come see her for lunch. Our first thought was “heck yeah!!!” but then we realized how truly busy we were. We would up saying “no.” It felt weird but she respected us for it.

    • So good Renee. You gained respect and avoided feeling extra rushed and maybe even resentful because you really couldn’t afford the time. It’s funny how scary that little word is, especially when using it on our kids, but also so powerful.

  • You are right.. of course… saying no can be the nicest things we say to ourselves… and giving us the power back!

    • Giving us the power back is right Kristen and it means our life quality is better and when we do things for others, we do them happily and without resentment.

  • Tamuria – For more reasons than I can go into, I really needed to read this. I especially needed to hear that I still need to be the mom, even though my children are adults. There ARE things they still need to learn from me. Even though my children are both independent and rarely ask for help (and don’t need to be told “no” for babysitting or $) I still need to draw boundaries on the too frequent snide comments, impatience with their disabled father, etc. I appreciate your nudge to stop being a passive victim and get back in the “Mom” driver’s seat. Thank you.

  • Have you thought about extending this into parenting guide for parents of adult children? There’s a lot of adult children out there who still need to grow up to the responsibility of being an adult

    • You have given me a bit to think about Joyce, it’s a great suggestion. I totally agree there are a lot of adult children who need to grow up to the responsibility of being an adult, and I do have some more post ideas on this subject. Thank you for the suggestion and the support. 🙂

Leave a Reply