Up until recently, Emma Harris always thought of herself as a “yes” girl. Her anxiety couldn’t handle saying “no” to someone, so she was always saying “yes” to everyone but herself.
This mother of two had an intense fear of turning people or her kids down, so she simply never did when at all possible. “‘No’ provoked a guilt in me that I wished to avoid so it always seemed easier to say yes than to face the consequence of decisiveness head on,” she wrote on Facebook. “Even if that ‘yes’ led me into situations I also wished to avoid.”
However since becoming a mom, Emma realizes that this fear of “no” is something that she’s carried into her parenting, and she now wishes that she learned to embrace this simple word much sooner. “I always worried my kids would hate me for ‘no’s’ the same as I worried people would hate me for them before my children,” she wrote. “I was happier to accept looking like a walk over then a monster.”
Emma admits to always giving in and saying “yes” to her kids, even when it wasn’t deserved or even requested, but she recently looked at the world with a different perspective. “I watched my children playing in it, totally innocent and unaware of all that’s to come for them. Oblivious to this sphere of fear we reside in,” Emma wrote. “I realize the kindest thing I can do for these children is to teach them to love ‘no.’ And myself.”
Now, Emma realizes that saying “no” isn’t about denying her kids something, but instead is giving them the gift of reassurance that is OK to refuse to do something. “When I say, ‘no’ to my child it’s not because I am a mean mother, it’s BECAUSE I am THE mother,” she wrote. “‘No’ is not just the bad cop. It is so much more than that.”
It’s equally important to Emma for her to teach both her boy and her girl the meaning of “no” as soon as possible, but for different reasons:
“It’s telling my small son who will one day be a man, that NO means NO. A man who I hope will go on dates, or a have relationships or marriage. He needs to know that No means No and there are not any exceptions to that. As his mother it is MY JOB to drill that into his head from day one.
It’s teaching my daughter also, that NO means NO and that she needs to feel OK with that decision.
She’s ENTITLED to say ‘no.'”
Instead of feeling guilty and taking “no” as a sign of weakness, Emma hopes that her children will see this powerful word in a way that she never did:
“‘No’ is power.
‘No’ is brave.
‘No’ is protection.
‘No’ is knowing your own mind and being aware of its boundaries.
It’s discipline. It’s respect. It’s the cruel to be kind.”
Emma hopes that with time, she and her kids will all learn that saying no may feel like being the bad cop but come to understand that no is never bad. “I want them to know that ‘No’ doesn’t always mean failure, but that sometimes it’s confirmation that winning is coming. Just not yet,” she wrote. “Now I say ‘No.’ Not because I don’t love my children, but because I love them TOO much to always say yes.”