Just Say No

Scrolling through my Facebook feed, an article caught my eye. When I read my friend's "introduction" to the article, I stopped my hovering finger from clicking the mouse button that would bring me to the article. I knew I shouldn't read it, as it would only serve to make me angry.

The article was about things that a parent did not allow their child to say to adults. One of those things was the word "no," 

Not only do I not forbid my children to say "no" to anyone, but I encourage my children to say no if it's the appropriate word to say. Teaching a child not to ever say no to an adult or an authority figure is incredibly dangerous. Unimaginably dangerous. The possible consequences of teaching a child to blindly obey an adult can be horrific - abuse and abduction are the first to come to mind. But, you say, they'd know to say no in those situations. Maybe, but not always...not nearly often enough. 

Then something else popped up in my feed - a bit about school detention slips that were supposed to be humorous. I readily admit that we had a laugh at a kid calling a teacher a Muggle, but there was one letter to a parent from a teacher that stated that a student tried to correct misinformation given by the teacher, repeatedly, and that it would be in this student's best interest, even though the student was correct, to learn to obey authority no matter what. A teacher insisting that a child just learn the misinformation given in class rather than question what he knows is wrong. That's some scary stuff!

I nearly turned of my computer and gave up the internet. 

Instead, I did what I should't have done and clicked on that first article to see what other words I'm "not supposed to" allow my children to say. They included "I don't want to" and "I don't like this." Again the warning bells with big flashy spinning lights went off in my head. Not only do I want my children to be able to say these things, but I want to empower my children to say these things whenever they are appropriate.  If someone tells my child to have a drink or a smoke or a snort or do something sexually when they don't want to, I'd rather they be able to say "I don't want to" or "No" than to go along with it because it's someone perhaps older than them or with more perceived authority. I want my kids, in any situation in which they find themselves uncomfortable, to be able to say, "I don't like this." 

I also teach my children that adults aren't always correct, that grown-ups make mistakes, that authority figures sometimes abuse their authority, and that they need to follow their instincts and morals in any situation they encounter.

And yes, I allow my children to say no to me. I've heard "I don't want to" when I have told or asked a child to do something. Sometimes my response is "OK, which one of these things do you want to do?" or sometimes my response is, "Me neither,but we both need to do what we don't want to so we can have some fun later." I've found that my children are much happier and much more productive human beings when we recognize the I don't want to's and the I don't like this's and take them into consideration. 

If my children are assigned tasks and one doesn't like doing their task and wants to trade with another, who does like doing it, then why not, as long as the task gets done? If my child has an assignment to do and doesn't want to, that's a different story - however, the child is still allowed to state that they don't want to and ask for help figuring out a way to make the assignment more pleasant. One of my children was having trouble with sermon notes for Confirmation class, so as we discussed the sermon, I typed out what she said, verbatim. She was surprised when she read it - and discovered it's easier for her to talk about it than to translate her thoughts directly to the written word. Now she has the option of recording herself and then writing down what she says, or asking me to chat with her about the sermon, which I'm usually very keen to do.

So, please, empower your children to use words like no, stop, I don't want to, I don't like this, and hear them out when they use these words. It doesn't mean that you have to let your children get away with doing whatever they want or disrespecting people. It means that you are treating your children like the human beings they are. 


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