Positive Parenting – Part Three
Why It’s OK to Say No to Your Child
When my husband and I were first-time parents we took a six week parenting course through our church.
The sole reason for the commitment, was that we had heard friends of ours wax lyrical about how they would teach us to get our baby to sleep.
Now one thing, you may not know about me, is that sleep is more important to me than food, water or breathing, except I do need oxygen to actually sleep, so breathing only just pips sleep.
I need an enormous amount of shut eye! I am talking a solid 8-10 hours a night and I was understandably terrified of having a baby and never sleeping for the remaining – oh five or so years.
The horror stories of sleep deprivation were at the forefront of my mind and I was deeply concerned.
Because, to put it lightly, I’m not the slightest bit pleasant to live with when I don’t sleep. The End.
So I dragged my eight month pregnant bump, my hubby and my sick bag to these parenting night classes without fail.
I took notes, threw up in the car on the way, threw up in the toilet during the sessions, tea breaks and all the way home.
However, I was focused. With a Capital ‘F’.
By hook, crook and regurgitated food, my baby was going to learn how to sleep.
And then roughly two weeks after the final class, our little one arrived and I, brand new, milk-leaking, fully lactating, emotional mess new-mummy, was beyond grateful for those weeks of absorbing wisdom from other parents who had gone way before me. I was so thankful to benefit from their experience and sound counsel.
Because, as they say, knowledge is power and “Praise Be!” – because our little one did sleep and so did the five that followed in the 13 years after her.
I will touch on what we learnt about sleeping and subsequently implemented, in the next blog, but for today, I want to encourage other families that it’s ok to say no, as a huge part of teaching our little ones to sleep began with a wise and gentle “no”.
It’s ok to say “no” to the midwife, who tells you that your newborn needs “topping up” and your breast milk isn’t sufficient.
It’s ok to say “no”, because the hospital personnel want to take your baby away for tests that you don’t understand the significance of.
It’s ok to say “no” to your mother-in-law who tells you how to burp your baby properly.
It’s ok to say “no” to visitors when you need a rest, or your friends who want to come see the new baby when their children are poorly.
It’s also ok to say “no” to your baby or toddler.
Hear me in this – you can say “no”.
Just because you are a parent, does not make you a slave to your precious little person. Yes, you love them with every beat of your heart and would die for them in less than a second, but you are still the adult and they are not.
When your baby cries, it’s ok to say “no”. If you are unable to hold and rock your baby because you have other little ones to see too.
That is ok.
Saying “no”, isn’t “I don’t see you”, it’s simply, “I’m not at your beck and call”.
And sometimes there is only mummy at home to care for her little ones and only one pair of hands.
In our baby course I mentioned, the leader explained a story about a mother of three children who found it very difficult to say “no”.
Her children loved to play outside on the swing in their garden, however on this one day it was grey and wet and they were unable. Disappointment and tantrums followed this poor mother’s meek attempts to explain the weather situation.
However, so bound up in the trap of doing everything her children asked of her, she went outside and dismantled the swing, piece by piece.
And you guessed it, she then brought it inside and constructed it in the lounge room for her children, who by that time had moved on to other things.
An article in ‘The Sydney Morning Herald’, on this subject, says this:
“The pendulum has swung too far and we have gone from not being emotionally attuned with our children to thinking that protecting them from any discomfort or things that they don’t want to do, is a way of showing love”
What I am saying, is that being a parent is one of the most wonderful gifts one can experience in life, but don’t make yourself a slave to your children.
You are their greatest teachers! Every day holds countless opportunities to mould and shape their hearts – gently.
“A child who is able to wait and delay gratification, is a wonderful person to be with, and actually mastering this, is one of the most important factors for future success in life“, says
Georgina Manning, Director of Wellbeing for Kids, and a counsellor and psychotherapist.
Model to them correct behaviour and as you do, they will benefit abundantly from these safe boundaries, rich in learning every day.
Be their guardian, as well as their greatest cheerleaders for life, and you will be amazed and immensely proud of the little people you raise. And I have a hunch, your heart will be happier too.
Which is a direct result, of on occasions, saying no.