Let Your No Be No

Today I failed as a mother. Good thing I gave up Mother Of The Year 11 months ago because it would have been pretty rotten to get this far and then blow it the way I did. One of the first lessons in Parenting 101 is “Let your yes be yes and your no be no.”  Today my no was yes and my yes was maybe and then no and then yes and then no and then fine and then, well, you get the idea.

You may have heard that we have some bad weather going on right now.  It started this afternoon as a light snow and has progressively gotten harder, though I’m not so sure we have the blizzard conditions they said we were going to get. Then again, I haven’t been out since this morning so I don’t really know.

My parenting faux pas came in the form of first telling Katie she couldn’t go to a friend’s house because of the storm, but then relenting and telling her she could go with another friend whose parents were going to drive, and then telling her I wasn’t comfortable with it and then saying okay, fine, and then finally just saying no. It was no reflection on the friends (they’re seriously two of my favorite girls) or on their parents (again, some of my favorite people). But as I looked out at the road and the blowing snow it just made me nervous. Especially because by this time it had turned dark. I knew most likely they would make the short drive just fine, but I still had that twisty feeling in the gut you get as a parent and I finally realized it wasn’t worth it. It was just a sleep over, something there will be many, many more of. She wasn’t very happy with me, but as soon as I said absolutely no I felt so much better.

Still, it would have gone much smoother today if I had just let my no be no to begin with. You’d think after 18+ years of parenting I’d have this simple skill down. Maybe I’ll figure it out in the next 18 years.


  1. monnik on December 27, 2010 at 5:43 am

    Oh man. I do this from time to time. And you’re right. Not starting with a ‘no’ makes it all the more difficult.

    But you did what felt right, and that’s what parenting is all about.

    (Hope you had a Merry Christmas, and that you don’t get too much snow out there!!)

    • Jenster on December 28, 2010 at 10:01 am

      Thanks, Monnik. We had a GREAT Christmas and despite what’s been on the news, the snow where we are has been marginal. I saw your Christmas pictures on Facebook and it looks like you guys had a great time, too! A while ago you told me I would love your mom’s barn and you are right! Looks like a postcard. 🙂

  2. Lyn on December 27, 2010 at 10:49 am

    Jenster, first of all, you have to remember that parenting isn’t black/white. There was no instruction manual to take out the guesswork. Every parent has times when they would like to have “do overs.”

    Next remember that this isn’t the end of the world! That girl will have forgotten this in a short time, and I’m betting she “gets” the underlying motherly love and protectiveness. Trust me, one day you’ll both be glad for the lessons each learned in this.

    We never quit worrying about and wishing we could protect our children. I’m heartsick today; my daughter was slapped with “I don’t love you anymore” recently and with “I’m moving out” just yesterday. I want so badly to wrap her in bubble wrap and take away the hurt. So be happy that you are with Katie now; continue to teach her about love and tough decisions. She’ll be glad you loved her enough.

    And BTW …. I’ll bet she understands, at some level, that your wavering was because you wanted her happy, even if safe won the argument.

    • Jenster on December 28, 2010 at 10:07 am

      She did get the reason I kept going back and forth and as disappointed as she was, she was really pretty good about it and she and I ended up having a nice evening together while the boys watched some horrendous action flick upstairs. lol.

      I’m so sorry about what your daughter is going through right now. If only our kids could fully understand the depths of our love for them now instead of someday down the road. I hope your daughter’s relationship with her child will be quickly restored.

      As always, I appreciate your wisdom and encouragement!

  3. Becky on December 27, 2010 at 11:13 am

    You did the right thing, mom! It’s your job to listen to those gut feelings which are very often the Lord’s guidance intended to keep the kids from danger. Sometimes, the situation was in a state of change, and what started off as a “yes” answer turns to a “no” because things have gotten worse. There are also plenty of occasions in which you might start with a “no” answer, but the weather clears up and it becomes a “yes”. It all balances out in the end. =)

    • Jenster on December 28, 2010 at 10:08 am

      You’re exactly right about the state of change, Becky. And I’m sure you’re also right about it balancing out in the end! You’re so smart. 🙂

  4. CD on December 28, 2010 at 6:43 pm

    I don’t have kids… but I fail at that with myself a lotta
    times!!! So, a good reminder to this non-mom 🙂

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