On Saying No To My Children

by Eden Strong
Originally Published: 

“Can you please just stop saying no!” my exasperated daughter exclaims.

“Um….no.” I reply to her cautiously, unsure of the reaction out of her that I might need to deal with next.

We were at the playground where what I thought would be a fun afternoon, had suddenly turned sour when my full time job as her mother intertwined with my other job as her referee/disciplinarian preparer of her future.

My dreams of flipping through a magazine on a park bench while I smiled at my children, listening to their shrieks of joy while thinking about how lucky I was, had turned into something that sounded more like this; “No, don’t climb on top of the monkey bars. No don’t touch the baby rabbits! No don’t stick your hands in the trashcan! No sorry, we can’t get ice cream from the ice cream man. No sorry, I can’t let you go home with the little boy you just met. No, don’t push her. No, you don’t take his toys! No, sorry we can’t stay any longer.”

The long series of questions in which I had answered “no” had culminated to this moment right now, where the face of my clearly annoyed daughter was asking me “can you please just stop saying no!”

I don’t know about you, but I feel like I spend a great deal of my time saying no to my children.

I do it with my toddler on a near constant basis; “No, you can’t eat that. No, don’t touch that. No, don’t climb on that.”

Unfortunately it doesn’t seem to end, as I’ve come to realize with my first grader; “No, we can’t do that. No, we can’t buy that. No, we can’t go there.”

I feel bad… kind of.

Not really, actually.

I don’t enjoy saying no per say, my kids definitely don’t like it, but as much as it annoys me, it really doesn’t bother me.

It’s my job to protect them, to teach them, to help them grow into amazing adults. Unfortunately, they don’t see the road ahead, they only see the moment right now, the moment where they would love to throw caution to the wind, do really fun things, eat really fun things, buy everything, and most likely run around naked.

Sorry, no. Just no.

I feel bad that they can’t get/do/have what they want, but at the same time I don’t. I don’t feel bad about telling them “no” for reasons that while I try to explain, they might not understand for many years to come. While I know that it’s not what they want to hear, I know it’s what they need to hear. I have been gifted with the privilege of being their mother and I will do right by them. I will make sure to give them what they need, regardless of the fact that they may resent me for it now.

So to answer my daughter’s questions, “can you stop saying no!?”


because I love you.

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