Do you find it hard to say no to your son or daughter? You know you should, but you just can’t bring yourself to do it? You give in too many times. I have. You want to be strong. You say you’re going to say no the next time, but . . .
I’m not speaking of a mature, responsible teen or adult child. Of course you help them if you can when they need it. I’m referring to the son or daughter who’s irresponsible, has addictions, or other patterns of destructive and dangerous behavior.
When you say yes to the latter, you think you’re being loving and helping but really – you’re not. Love needs to be tough. Helping only keeps them dependent on you, and it prevents them from receiving the gift of learning hard lessons from painful consequences. Those difficult lessons are exactly what they need to aid their growth and maturity. They could be the wake up call that will open their eyes.
Instead of chickening out and doing what you don’t really want to do, practice saying these statements:
“No, I won’t call in sick for you at work/school.”
“No, I won’t pay your____________bill.”
“No, I won’t bail you out of jail, AGAIN!”
“No, I can’t loan you any money.” (If you do, be okay with not getting paid back.)
“No, you can’t live with me if you won’t keep my rules.”
“No, you can’t drive my car .” (Because their license is suspended, they’re under the influence or they’re not dependable.)
I’ve been there. I know it’s hard. These are some of the toughest things you’ll ever say to your child. It’s frightening. There’s no guarantee what will happen when you do. It’s super tough. But if you don’t start saying no, you’ll only help your child continue living like they are. Nothing will ever change. I know you don’t want that!
Please don’t be too hard on yourself. You’re doing the best you can. None of us has ever done this before. We make plenty of mistakes. You’re in good company. I hope it helps to know you aren’t the only one. But wait. You need to change. You can’t keep doing what you’ve been doing. You have to get strong so you can say no when you need to – when they really need you to.
So forgive yourself and determine to begin doing things differently. What do you need?
Boundaries. We all need them to be emotionally healthy in these difficult situations. When we don’t have them our lives become unmanageable and things start falling apart, like the picture of the broken down fence. They help us take care of ourselves and help our children in the way that’s really helping.
Here’s a prayer you could use the next time you need to say no and are afraid:
Dear God, I feel weak and scared. I really don’t want to say no to my child right now, but I believe it’s the right thing to do. Give me the strength and courage I need to love them like this. Help me trust you more with __________. I can’t fix them, no matter how many times I say “yes” instead of “no”. I surrender them into Your hands. Please work where I cannot.
In Jesus’ Name.