When Did “NO” Become a Dirty Word? The Value of Setting Limits

I was watching an episode of House Hunters where a couple who had already lost $30,000 on their last house looked at a house which was $70,000 over their budget. I said to my husband they would never choose that house and he said, “They will.” And they did.

How did sanity lose out to granite counters and double sink vanities? When did we decide that we deserve what we want regardless of the consequences? How can we expect our children to control themselves when we don’t?

The same week I was sitting on a plane next to an older mom whose children were in their 20’s. We talked about the rules and expectations we had for our children which garnered me the title “meanest mom on the block.” We agreed that it’s more important to be a “parent” than a “friend” and that our children had turned out the better for it.

But parents today seem afraid to say “no.” Whether it’s putting their baby down to sleep when they’re crying, timing their 3 year-old out for yelling, or telling their 13 year-old they can’t do something just because everyone else is. They seem more concerned about their children liking them and not fussing at them, than being firm with clear expectations and rules. Has life has become so stressful we lack the energy to stand up and not give in?

So, let’s learn to say “no” to ourselves and our children. Limit-setting promotes responsibility and self-reliance. Valuable qualities, indeed.