False Assumption 5: Yes, but…

by | False Assumptions Series

I should be able to out, “yes, but” my kids.

In all my many years, I have never met a parent who could actually out, “yes, but”, a kid who was determined to get what they wanted.  I have concluded that it is just not possible since kids have infinitely more new and fresh ways of shaping and reshaping their request, than we parents have new ways of saying, “no”.

So why do many of us continue to rally back and forth with our kids in a futile attempt to get them to gladly accept our “no”?

Possibly the most common reason is that we want our kids to be happy, even though we are unwilling to provide that happiness by giving in to their wishes when we know better than to do so. What often keeps us in the debate is that we are hoping to get from them a response that might go something like one of the following:

“Oh, thanks for saying no. You are right!”

“I really need you to limit me and I appreciate it”.

“Thanks for interfering with my getting what I want.  That makes me sooooo happy!”

“I’m glad you are wise enough to know that I’m not mature enough to realize that what I want is not good for me, so thanks for watching out for me”.

“Thanks so much for saving me from myself!”

Dream on.  We may never get those responses-and if we do, it will be long after the fact.  Probably not until they have given birth to their own kids and finally get it.

The outcome of such futile battles with our kids is usually one of two unfortunate Scenarios.  Either we get so worn down that we give in to their pleading just to end the pain of it all, or we get so frustrated that our anger leads us to play the power card (because I’m your mother!),  thus ending the discussion in a destructive manner that damages our relationship . Neither is acceptable and certainly not enjoyable.

Consider this alternative approach:

Son: “Hey, Dad, can I spend the night at Jason’s house tonight?”

Dad: “I’m going to have to say no since it’s a school night and you need to be up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed for school. Maybe another time”

Son:“But Dad, (yada, yada, yada)”

Dad: “I’ve told you once but just to make sure you heard me, I’ll say what I said one more time (no need to change your wording the second time.  It’s a lot easier and far less taxing just to use your original words). I’m going to have to say no since it is a school night and you need to get up early for school tomorrow morning. Maybe another time”.

Son: “But Dad, (a new and improved version of the original yada, yada, yada)”

Dad: “I don’t have any other way of explaining my decision so I won’t try again to get you to understand.  It’s not that I want to cut off communication with you, it’s just that I don’t have any more to tell you that I think might help you understand”.

Why is it that all this stuff is far easier to explain than it is to do!?  But do, we must.


Suggestion: State your position clearly, be willing to repeat it a second time if necessary, and no more. (“If I had any more to add, or a better way of stating what I have already said, I’d say it again.  I don’t, so I won’t”).



Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *