Every parent of a two year old knows the power of no. Your here-to-fore sweet baby is suddenly full of negativity, and you swear if you hear just one more no, you’ll … well, I’ll let you fill in the blank.
Back in the day, I belonged to a twins group and we had a speaker who explained the power of no in the life of parents and toddlers. She said that there are three things you cannot make a person do: eat, sleep or poop. When you have an infant, you are under the illusion that you are “making” them eat when you nurse them, sleep when you put them down in their cribs, and poop when you change their diapers. And then comes two … and “no” … and you realize (again) that you really have no power at all.
That’s not entirely true, of course. As parents, we also have the power of no. We can control a whole slew of behaviors with our “nos”: how much television our children watch, whether and when they have junk food, which video games they are allowed to play, whether they may pierce or tattoo their person. Our “nos” have a lot of power — if we learn to wield them wisely.
As a parent, I figured out that part of the equation pretty quickly. Just ask my kids — I have never been afraid to be the mean mom. The “no” I haven’t learned to use is the one to the adults in my life:
- No, I don’t want to join another committee or board.
- No, I don’t want to help with the fundraiser, fun run, school whatever … .
- No, I cannot take on another volunteer project.
- No, I do not have “five” minutes when you really mean 45.
- No, I will not give away my professional services for free because you are my friend, neighbor, acquaintance, plumber (OK, maybe to the plumber).
- No, not everything in the world is my responsibility, despite all appearances to the contrary.
This may seem like an odd topic for my first post on the new Chicago Moms, since I wholeheartedly said “yes” when our fearless leaders asked me to participate. I’m thrilled to be here and would say “yes” again in a minute, but right now I’m going to hang out with some two year olds to get my “no” on.
Category: Mom Challenges