And celebrate when they do!
I know how crazy that might sound, believe me.
And yet it is such an important element to conscious parenting.
Saying NO is one of the most important things for young people to be able to do.
When kids say NO they’re not testing your limits and boundaries. That is the traditional view.
The thinking is that if we don’t push back then they’ll just take advantage of us.
Learning About Their Inner Strength
In fact this is not what is happening.
They aren’t testing us, they are testing their own inner strength.
And evaluating themselves by how we react.
Do my parents recognize my truth, my needs, my values?
They’re not thinking about how they can control you,
they’re looking for validation of their feelings, their needs and their strength.
Don’t Squash The NO
When we squash the no, we are also squashing their belief in their inner strength. We are dampening the feeling that their own boundaries are valid, worth protecting and standing up for.
Isn’t that the opposite of the message we want to give our young ones?
Don’t we want them to know themselves and honour themselves?
When we don’t honour and celebrate the NO we are sending a message that we love them conditionally, not unconditionally. We are saying that we love, value and accept them more when they are compliant with us. Not when they are authentic with their own feelings.
Of course our kids want our approval and our love. This is why they will often do what they think they need to do in order to obtain it. If honouring their own space makes them experience our disapproval they may lose the ability to protect it.
I want my daughter to say NO when she feels NO.
I don’t want her to just go along with the crowd because she doesn’t believe in herself. I don’t want her to go along with a boy and have sex when she’s not ready because she feels like saying NO means she’s rejected.
The only way she will develop the ability to say a clear NO in life and with men is if she learns to do so with me. If we can embrace our children when they disagree with us and when they say NO we are teaching them to do so in other areas of their lives. This is a skill that they will carry with them for years to come. Instead of denying themselves they will honour who they are and what they feel.
The No That Comes From The Heart is Not a Combative No.
If the no comes from a place of fight and conflict then it will be a reaction.
It will really be about them trying to maintain some sense of their freedom.
Or it becomes a habitual way of interacting with you that carries over into their lives.
These are not healthy expressions of NO because they’re not really about honouring their deep voice.
When their deep voice says YES we want them to say YES
and when their deep inner voice says NO…
well we don’t want anything to get in the way of that!
This is why we embrace the NO, so that we take the fight out of it.
A solid NO or a clear disagreement becomes their natural right.
This feeling of it being natural also means they don’t need to say No when they don’t really mean it.
Building Real Strength
If we can encourage our kids to say NO and to disagree with us whenever they feel like it we are showing them that we honour their inner voice, their values and their needs.
If we celebrate when they do say NO to us then we send the message that standing their ground, standing up for themselves and standing in their truth is worthy of celebration, no matter what anyone else may think.
We are giving them the gift of independent strength.
p.s. When I told this idea to my friend Inya, she just laughed and laughed.
She said that she is going to re-imagine her entire childhood from this perspective.
In a way that is a useful thing for us all to do.
I think this will be another blog post!