Just say NO!

I grew up in a Pop-Tart loving home… because of that, and because it was the 80s, we had the opportunity to turn in a few Pop Tart box-tops for a Paula Poundstone VHS. 

I could probably recite most of that Paula Poundstone VHS tape today. Just thinking about how Paula rationalizes eating a full box of pop-tarts makes me smile. But one bit in particular is engrained in my head — when Paula makes fun of the parents that don’t say “No” to their kids. 
Paula’s impression of said parents? “Ashley, Mommy doesn’t like that.” 
To this day, whenever I hear a parent saying some version of that line, I want to laugh and cringe… and then I hear myself saying some version of it to my own kids and I feel as awkward as Hannah Horvath
Why can’t I simply say NO!?!
At least I know I’m not alone. Just this morning… I heard the hubs say “Sedona, you need to be reasonable, ok?” which… let’s face it, is a version of “Mommy doesn’t like that” 
I was in a mood (as in: hadn’t drank my coffee yet) but I couldn’t simply stand there and take one more day of pussy-footing around the kids. So I flat out told the hubs to grow a set, stop asking her permission if something’s “ok” and to be the parent. 
Yes, that’s right, if you can’t say NO to your kids, you, my friend, are a pussy.
And… I know I’m not exempt. Meow
I have a hard time saying no without feeling like a ginormous bitch. 
Hell, I have a hard time saying no to a lot of people, not just my kids! 
I have to remember that when it comes to our kids, we’re their — get this — parents
Sometimes, our kids are going to have to hear NO. It’s a part of LIFE
We can’t negotiate the occasional shittiness that can = life at times. We all have to take responsibility for our actions… and kids need to learn respect & responsibility. Because let’s face it, you (yes you!) know at least one person who never truly learned respect &/or responsibility… you know you do. Are these fools from homes with rules & boundaries? Hmmm… 
Ending a sentence with “ok?” is like giving a child permission to say it’s “not ok” and let’s face it, most kids will push our buttons to see just how far they can take a parent that refuses to say NO. 
Who’s running the show in the house? The kids or the parents? 
I’ve been asking myself that question quite a bit this week, as my children grow restless with indoor recess at school, tempers are short… and let’s face it, the beer is running dangerously low in my fridge. 
I’ve started removing things that cause problems: 
  • You’re going to fight about what after-school snack I brought? 
    • No more snacks in the car!
  • You’re going to fight over who gets to snuggle with who & where at the end of the day? 
    • No more bed-time snuggles AND an earlier bedtime. 
It sucks to be that parent. 
But… I can already tell it’s starting to work. Sure, Sedona still tries to take advantage & push the hubs’ buttons, but she’s getting better at accepting the changes I’m throwing out there. In a way, I do believe Sedona’s level of respect has gone up. 
My stubborn 8yo on the other hand… has not been adjusting to this new concept of “tough-love” without a fight. Natalie is a very routine-oriented girl, so when things change, she turns into a tantrum throwing toddler. The hubs & I have both been told we hate her, among other things. Oy, the teenage years will be fun with this one. 
I’m trying to do my best to remain strong and consistant, rewarding GOOD behavior when I see it as well. 
And maybe, just maybe, if I can be tough now, I can lighten up as they grow older. 
Maybe if I say no a little more now, I can say yes a little more later. 
How do you deal with rules & boundaries in your home? 

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6 Comments

  1. Posted January 24, 2013 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

    I am that parent. I am the ‘mean mom’. Things get taken away, scenarios that result in repetitive bad behavior, get squashed…. I am the parent that other parents use as a threat, when they want their children to behave.

    Some days, it’s depressing.
    But I also know that because we run a tight ship, and reward good behavior (my kids get allowance for doing their chores, and we have a points chart and can choose stuff from a prize box, by cashing in said points), I have the kids that no one minds having over for playdates, and get complimented on their behavior everywhere we go.

    Tough love is hard, when you first change the routine, but it is SO worth it in the long run.

    • Posted January 24, 2013 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

      I spewed beer out my nose when I read “I am the parents that other parents use as a threat”. Awesome!!

      My children are fairly well behaved at school & on play-dates. But, when Momma & Daddy are around, I don’t know what it is… they have their moments & push our buttons. We’re working on it. Hopefully if we can remain consistant, it will continue to get easier.

  2. Posted January 24, 2013 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

    When all else fails, I remind myself of the five-year-old with a binky or the kid still crying for his momma at school, 5 months into third grade, and I feel a little better about the job I’m doing. I’m a horrible person.

    • Posted January 24, 2013 at 5:07 pm | Permalink

      You are so right on, Rhonda. Not horrible at ALL, just honest… Which happens to be one of the many things I enjoy about you.

  3. Posted January 25, 2013 at 12:59 am | Permalink

    I think it’s interesting when I say NO and other parents try to give Liam a way out. Um…NO! Last year he would not put sunscreen on at the zoo and so we left and both of the other mothers called about 5-10 minutes later to say, “..you aren’t really leaving are you?, etc. etc.” Yes we are leaving, sunscreen is a rule in our house, and tantrums instead of words are unacceptable. We are also members of the zoo, so we can come back another day. He’s still not a fan of sunscreen, but he’s never pulled that “you’re-killing-me” scream about it again.

    • Posted January 29, 2013 at 6:51 pm | Permalink

      THANK YOU!! I never understand the family that sits at the table in the restaurant “ignoring” their temper-tantrum throwing child. Yes, I get that it’s one way to deal with it, but ignoring my kids in public never worked for me. Liam (and his future partner!) will thank you one day for sticking to your guns, giving him boundaries, and for being a strong Momma with a big heart!

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