I Have a Hard Time Saying “No” to My Kids

Why do I often say “yes,” when I really want to say “no?”  That’s a good question—and no, it’s not a rhetorical question. I do have an actual answer.  I have a hard time saying “no” because I am a people pleaser. I actually come from a long line of people pleasers, so it really isn’t such a shocker that the torch was passed down to me to carry on the family tradition.

Now that I have become more *ahem* seasoned, I seem to be getting much better when it comes to saying “no”.  That being said, there remains a little part of me that wants to be adored by every single person who crosses my path, and it makes me feel kind of nutty when someone doesn’t think that I’m totally fabulous. 

Saying “no” to my kids

The biggest area of my life that I struggle infinitum with when it comes to saying those two little letters to is with my kids. I won’t lie; I definitely need a lot more work in the sticking-to-my-guns department when it comes to my offspring.  I usually start off with such a firm and convincing “no,” that even I believe myself.  But then like a cube of sugar in a cup of warm tea, I begin the process of melting. Trust me, my kids figured out how to play me when they were very small— quickly becoming masters of manipulation… and they have had years to perfect the art.

Saying “no” to my children is like getting trapped in a revolving door. They keep spinning me around and around so long — that when I finally find my way out—I am completely dazed and confused. Not having the strength to say “no” or argue with them anymore, I surrender, and they win. I’m not particularly proud of this flaw in my character which keeps me from standing up for myself and wills me to become everyone’s doormat—especially my kids’. But like most everyone else on the planet, I too am just a work in progress, doing my very best to outgrow my negative behaviors and not just trying to outrun them.

Issues with self-esteem

Why do any of us become human doormats for the people who we love?  I personally have wrestled with this question all of my life.  In my own case, it was passed down by a long line of women before me who struggled with their self-esteem.  I wonder sometimes what it would be like to get all of my foremothers into one room and have a marathon therapy session.  I think it would be quite fascinating, and perhaps even enlightening, to discover the origin of my family tree of people-pleasing.  

Another interesting thing about my own life-long reign in the land of people-pleasers is that overall, I’m a pretty tough chick—so why is it I crumble when it comes to saying “no?” and why does it matter so damn much when someone doesn’t like me? It annoys me to no avail that I can be such a strong, powerful force to be reckoned with in some ways, and a total emotional marshmallow when it comes to this one area.  All I can say to my fellow (wo)men out there (and you know who you are) is that trying to please everyone all the time is an impossible quest that eventually takes its toll on us.

Why you shouldn’t please your kids all the time

Raising children isn’t easy, because as much as any of us hate to admit, we are competing with all of the crap that we learned from our own parents. For so many of us new parents, we hold our beautiful newborns in our arms and make an unspoken promise to them that we will do better at parenting them than our parents did with us. Yet, in spite all of our good intentions, the programming we received as children is simply too strong, and eventually our denials become our destinies, making us break that promise to them.

Winning the approval of a complete stranger is one thing—sure it bugs us, but we move on and quickly forget about it.  Trying to please our kids all the time, now that’s an entirely different story, because by not exercising our right to say “no” to them, we end up teaching THEM how to be people-pleasers like us.

The only people we need to please...

In my own struggles to parent my children better than I myself was parented, I’ve tried hard to teach them that every one of us is just trying to figure out this thing called “life.” We do it in our own way, on our own timetable.  Yes, I’ve made my mistakes along the road of parenting, just like they will one day.  

 Each day, I try to wake up with a willingness to grow and evolve, doing my very best to teach my children about the power of personal change and responsibility. As their mother, I believe that the greatest lesson that I can ever teach them is that the person that they need to please the most in their lives is the sacred and beautiful person that they already are.

Do you always seek the approval of other people? How has it affected you (and your kids), and how do you plan on cutting out this habit? 

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Tags : confessions   mama drama and the dalai lama   conscious parenting   mindful parenting   self esteem   

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