When you called from work to ask if you could go to the mall with a friend you haven’t seen in weeks, I didn’t think twice about saying “No”.
You had chores to do, homework to finish and youth group later in the evening. You resisted, telling me how much you wanted to spend time with your friend, but I stuck to my “No.”
You weren’t happy about it. You rarely are when I tell you “No.”
But, dear daughter, although it may be hard for you to understand, when I tell you “No”, I’m not punishing you or trying to steal your joy. I am trying to teach you some important life lessons.
When I tell you “No”, I am trying to teach you to be responsible.
You will be making decisions on your own soon, and you need to learn how to manage your time well. I want to teach you how to prioritize what is most important in your life, so you don’t fail to follow through. I want to teach you that although having fun is worthwhile and needed, you also must be mindful of your responsibilities.
It’s so hard to say no to the fun stuff, I know. And when you are on your own, there will be so many opportunities for you to go where all the fun is, because who doesn’t want to have fun all the time instead of doing hard things?
But here’s the truth about life, sweetie: It’s a balance of both. If you choose to have fun all. the. time., you will slowly skip the critical steps you need to take that will lead you into a fulfilling and productive future. Every day you will make decisions that will either pave the path toward those goals or away from them. Take your steps wisely.
When I tell you “No” I am trying to teach you how to take care of yourself.
I want you to make choices that support your physical health as well as your mental well-being, and sometimes when you ask to stay out later or go through that drive through, or fill your days with back to back activities, you aren’t taking care of your physical needs.
I want to teach you to be mindful of the foods you eat and the sleep you get and the activities you pursue because each of these things is crucial for living your life well. If you wear yourself down trying to squeeze too much into a day, you will eventually end up burnt out and exhausted.
Life is not a race, but a journey and you must pace yourself or you will lose your stamina, your strength, your fervor. You have so much life ahead of you and you must learn how to manage it in a way that will keep you well, not only for today but for the weeks and months and years ahead.
When I tell you “No”, I am trying to help you understand the power of this word and how to use it yourself.
When I tell you “No”, I want to impart on you the profound purpose the word “No” can have in your life. You will be faced with ongoing decisions when you’re on your own and many of them will make you feel uncomfortable with saying “No”. You might even be afraid, and that fear may keep you from standing your ground, sticking to your principles, or taking good care of yourself.
There will be friends you don’t want to let down and even boys you don’t want to disappoint. There will be opportunities you may feel obligated to experience and people who demand more than you can give.
Saying “No” can be one of the hardest things to do, because deep down, we all fear we will be rejected, abandoned, or even forgotten. But it’s the most important word you must learn to use. Saying “No” often requires courage and confidence that honors your own voice and values, instead of others. It requires strength and security in who you are that cannot be swayed by people’s opinions of you and the response you will receive.
Saying “No” will continue to help you decide who you are and who you want to be.
Please don’t give in to the pressure to say yes, thinking it is simply easier to do rather than make things messy and hard. I promise you, it’s worth the mess and fear. It’s worth it because sometimes on the other side of that yes, there can be painful regret.
The word “No” is a powerful sentence all on its own and yet, it’s one of the most difficult words to say. I want to teach you that you always have a right to use this word when you are facing a decision that warrants it for the sake of your safety, your health, and your well-being. I want you to learn to use it well and use it often, okay?
You make many good decisions every day to be responsible and healthy despite all the pressures you face, and I’m so proud of you. But there’s still so much to learn in just a few short years. I will do everything I can to guide you in developing the life skills you need to be the very best YOU, you can be, and one of the most important ones is learning to say “No”.
No one ever gets it right all the time, but if I can teach you as much as I possibly can, I hope you will be better prepared to live your life without my “No”s and be empowered to say them yourself when you don’t have me around.
So, my dear daughter, that is why I say “No”.
This is a contributed post by Christine Carter. She writes at TheMomCafe.com, where she hopes to encourage mothers everywhere through her humor, inspiration, and faith. Her work is published on several various online publications and she is the author of “Help and Hope While You’re Healing: A woman’s guide toward wellness while recovering from injury, surgery, or illness.” and “Follow Jesus: A Christian Teen’s Guide to Navigating the Online World”. Both sold on Amazon.