black and white picture of a crying child

No, it’s such a simple word. It’s often one of the first words a child learns after Mama and Dada. “No” was the second word my daughter ever spoke. Ironically, it’s something I fear more and more children aren’t hearing.  A few years ago I had a family member scold me for telling their child no. I’m paraphrasing here but essentially I was told, “We never tell our children no. We offer suggestions, we redirect, we say things like how about if or wouldn’t you rather but we never directly say the word no.”  I was floored. This family member must have sensed my bewilderment because before I could ask why in the hell don’t you set boundaries I was told that telling children no stifles their creativity, harms their psyche and invalidates their opinions.  It takes away their curiosity and bunch of other bullshit I started tuning out because it was and is bullshit. I chalked this encounter up to this part of the family living in an anything goes hippie centric town and said well rational people surely don’t believe this drivel.

Fast forward to last week when a child at my work was running around acting like a loon and the mother kept screaming, “make good choices!” Are you freaking kidding me? Make good choices? This kid is two, still shits in his diaper and can’t remember what he ate for breakfast. How the hell do you expect him to put thought and reason into the situation and decide to make a good choice? Yes, I am all for instilling rational thought but children at that age they are simply not capable of making good choices. And, what seems like a good choice for them (ice cream, running amock) is typically not what we the adults think of as a good choice (veggies, sitting quietly).

Sadly, this isn’t an isolated case. I’ve seen this same scenario play out dozens of times over the last couple of years.  And, I’m not the only person observing this craziness. The same day my incident happened, a cousin, who lives in another state, posted about a similar incident on Facebook. It’s everywhere. It must be some sort of parenting trend. But, honestly, what dumbass thought up this everything but no trick? It was probably some idiot with a string of letters behind their name and no real world experience with children.  And, can someone please tell me how offering all these “well, wouldn’t you rather” is better than saying No and offering a reason why you said no?  Isn’t the “wouldn’t you rather” a bit like gaslighting your child and making the child second guess themselves.  I mean if the whole exercise is built upon instilling the ability to use reasoning skills how the hell are they suppose to reason if you totally invalidate their idea. Give them some damn boundaries. Tell them no. Tell them why you are saying no. No, you can’t run from me in the parking lot some idiot will run you over and kill you.  No, you may not have cake for lunch it’s unhealthy and you’ll be starving five minutes later. And, just because these parents don’t say no doesn’t mean the world won’t. How are these children going to react when the world tells them no.  I can tell you how. The same way the child of a family member reacted. It was like I was speaking a foreign language. They don’t understand and they don’t believe it. They act like you haven’t even spoken.  No, what is this word you speak? That word doesn’t apply to me. Oh, but it does sunshine.  It totally does.

Photo Credit: Free photo lifted from the internet of a kid “pitching a fit” as we say down here in the South.


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