Please and Thank You, No!

The first lessons of good manners, and other than “Mommy” and “Daddy,” often the first words we teach our children, are “Please” and “Thank You.”  We teach them to ask nicely with a, “Please,” and to always say, “Thank you” when someone has done something kind or given them something.  The word, “No” is often the first word they remember us saying to them, repeatedly and usually with some conviction, which is why they seem all to eager to repeat it back to us, seldom to our amusement.

Hearing our children calling us “Mommy” or “Daddy” gives us parents great pride, and their following that up with an “I love you,” can bring joyful tears.  At some stage, the good manners of “Please” and “Thank you” can seem strangers while having fun with their friends, thankfully becoming reacquainted as they grow up.  What else have you noticed about the words, “Please” and “Thank you” and “No?”

Were you ever so displeased with your child saying, “No,” that you may have said something like, “Don’t you tell me no?”  The message that may send children is that they have no power and should never say “No” to an adult.  There are other interpretations, but they do learn at a very early age that “No” is not a word that they may regularly use.  Though we may not want our children to tell us that they will not clean their rooms, we do want them to know that in some cases it is perfectly appropriate for them to say, “No,” which may make it more confusing for them.

“No” is one of the most powerful words anyone can ever say.  As an adult, are you reticent to saying, “No” when asked to do that next project at work or a favor for a friend?  Might that be the result of what you learned as a child?  Were you always trying to please your parents (or to not displease them)?  Has that carried into adulthood where you find yourself wanting to be “nice” and to please others, even to your detriment?

SuccessWhat if the next time someone asks you to do something, you pause and give careful consideration to what is really best for you, and if you decide that you really don’t want to or don’t have the time, tell that someone, “No.”  Now, imagine how wonderful it feels because you haven’t added that “one more thing” to your already busy life and you can actually breathe and do something just for you!  Sometimes, our greatest successes come from our saying, “No,” because it frees us to do that which is most important for our joy and wellbeing.  How cool is that?

The Greatest Job in the World

If you are a parent, you have undertaken to do the most important, challenging, and rewarding job anyone can ever have.  It is likely that you have had days when you wondered what in the world you got yourself into.  Have you ever thought that you weren’t going to make it as a parent or that you weren’t doing a good job?  Did you ever wonder how your children would turn out considering the mistakes you thought you made?

If you are a typical parent, chances are there have been times when you wondered whether you were really cut out for that job and if your kids would be okay.    What I believe is that you have done a good job, and if your kids are still at home, you continue to do the best you can at all times.  Chances are that you have actually done a pretty darn good job.

Even though there isn’t an instruction manual for raising children, and even though we swore we wouldn’t make the same mistakes our parents made with us, we have instilled certain character in our children that, though they may not always exhibit it, will serve them well as they grow into adulthood.

A teacher of mine who practiced Family Counseling for decades shared with me that when parents came to her with a “problem child,” she would meet with them all, then the child, but she would spend more time with the parents in counseling sessions.  In business we know that culture is a top-down phenomenon.  The same holds true for families.  The most important part of our job as parents is to allow our children to be who they are (not to mold them into some facsimile of ourselves or to be their friends) and to teach them to be caring and responsible adults.

You have in you everything you need to make good decisions, and it is most likely that, especially related to your children, your decisions have been, overall, good ones.  In doing “the right thing” by your children, they will grow up to be good adults.  When your children accomplish something that brings them great joy and you beam with pride, remember that you really did do a great job.  How cool is that?