This I Believe … Saying “No” is more important than saying “Yes”
Having a child is a life affirming and transformative experience, but raising a child is a daunting and difficult task. As a new parent, I began to realize how vitally important it was to master the use of the word “no.” It didn’t take great talent or genius to do so, but it did take foresight, conviction, and a whole lot of patience to implement and live by that philosophy.
As a first time mother, I was ill prepared for dealing with a very smart little boy who was quite advanced in the art of being willfully stubborn. Although I quickly realized that it was much easier to say yes to most things, and far more pleasing to my son’s little ears, deep down, I believed that saying “no” when I meant “no” would yield far more beneficial results. After all, I wanted to raise a child who would grow into a person whom I and others, would genuinely like and respect, as well as love.
Being a stay-at-home parent, I was offered the wonderful opportunity to spend time playing with and reading to my son, and the absolute pleasure of witnessing the many milestones of infancy and toddler-hood. But, it also forced me to transform myself from a starry eyed, newly in love parent, into a “benevolent dictator.”
You know the saying, “I’m dancing as fast as I can?” That’s how I started feeling around my son and I knew that I had to do something quickly to reverse that trend or I
would be miserable and he would turn into a monster. So, I started saying “no;” not to be negative or arbitrary, but to be strong and responsible, and to avoid taking the path of least resistance.
My belief was steadfast and well supported by my husband who would often remind me to, “Stay the course,” and not to give in to our spluttering and enraged little boy during his tantrums. My mantra became, “Put in the time now and it will pay off later.”
It was very difficult at times … so tiring and emotionally draining, when my son and I would face-off and have a battle of wills, where I imagine, neither of us felt like the victors. He would fall asleep out of sheer exhaustion, all sweaty and snotty, and I would sprawl out somewhere and stare into oblivion, contemplating the emotional contradictions in my heart.
But slowly, things started to shift. Less and less often, did our fun times get interrupted for time outs and my son’s intelligence and strong will, started to serve him well. His strong nature became an asset, rather than a liability, precisely as his nursery school teacher had predicted.
He is now a wonderful, well rounded young man, who recently told me, that he gives me a lot of credit, for redirecting his spirit, rather than breaking it, and for having the confidence in my parental belief that, “no” would eventually lead to a resounding “yes.”
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