Nancy Reagan drilled it into our minds so hard it became a joke. Once the War on Drugs started, we were in it. Soldiers, dutifully wielding the only weapon given to us - our words.
We grew up and never lost our mantra. At times, it is still a joke. "Step away from the chocolate. Just say no."
Exhausted multi-taskers are re-learning the thought in a trickier fashion. We have to say "no" to nice people instead of drug dealers. The people who ask us to take on one more scoop of potatoes (or activity) when our plate (or life) is already full.
I think the tide may even be turning for those nice people, now too. There has been an upswing in the current that flows with the banner, "Make sure you take time for yourself." Many folks are stopping for coffee and going to the gym instead of signing up for for the volunteer activities that are pursuing us. Or maybe that's just me.
But now, we need to bring back the "Just Say No" battle cry one more time - for the sake our own kids. Wake Nancy up - she'd be on the same page, I'm sure.
We need to just say "no" to our kids.
No to stuff they don't need.
No to stuff they didn't earn.
No to one. more. thing.
We've got the peer pressure problem all over again, only we think we're doing something good for our kids by helping them fit in. This isn't news. Just as it made no sense to jump off a bridge when everyone else was doing it before, it still makes just as little sense to push our kids off the bridge when all the other moms are doing that today.
Why do we need to?
I, for one, would like my kids to grow up as unspoiled as possible. If we give them everything their hearts desire, I don't believe they will appreciate what it's like to get something you truly want. Even beyond that, if we make our kids work to get something they truly want, they can better understand the value and purpose of work. How awful would it be for us to give our children everything during their childhood, then to throw them into the adult world where it really doesn't work that way?
I had to teach my daughter this lesson just this week. She agreed to take care of a friend's dog for a day. But later that day, she had the opportunity to go out for a fun activity with her other friends, missing a feeding/walking time for the pup. I covered her responsibility for her, but when the friend came over to reward my daughter's effort with a candy bar, I did demand my share of that candy bar. Not because I wanted the candy or even because I didn't want her to have the candy. Just because I wanted her to understand that she made a choice to not fulfill her duty, and so she did not earn the full reward.
Why is it so hard for us to say "no" when we know it is the right thing?
Why are we not recognizing the "kid pressure" as the same circumstance we were in when we faced "peer pressure?"
When we were teens, maybe we stood up pretty well to those offering us cigarettes (or worse). But maybe it was hard for you. Maybe you had visions of the "cool" people making fun of you, in those awful days when we had no idea what cool really was.
And now, as adults, what are we afraid of? We're afraid, essentially of the same thing, that our kids won't see us as "cool parents." Or possibly we are afraid that our own children will suffer our fear - that their friends will tease them for not being "cool."
Since it seems every kid has to have the newest toy.
Or video game.
Or see the latest movie.
Or stay up to a certain bed time.
Or have the exact same lunch as their friends.
Keeping it in perspective, we find the same rule applies: No two kids are the same, and therefore, no two kids have the same needs. We must keep that in mind. And sometimes that explanation helps ease the disappointment.
And remind them that even though we say no some of the time, they have probably had more than enough yeses to make up for it all.
Passion Under Grace,