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6 Things You Want Your Kids To Be Able To Do – pt 6

April 15, 2019

I’m a People Pleaser. I’d like to think I’m moving toward recovery from this, but I can’t say I’m recovered yet.  I’ve always wanted people to like me.  I mean really, really like me.  For most of my life, pleasing people was the best way to get the affection and affirmation I longed for.  Be funny.  Be smart.  Be happy.  And most of all, never tell people “no.”  Nothing displeased people more than say no.  So never say it.  Just say yes to everything.  And then kill yourself to do what you said yes to.

There are many problems with this.  Not the least of which is that it’s very hard to keep track of what you’ve said yes to when you say it often to many different people.  So as much as I wanted to please everybody, I constantly found myself disappointing them.  Normally this wasn’t because I didn’t try to keep my commitments.  I tried really hard.  Most of the time it was because I hadn’t been able to keep track of all of them, and some of them slipped off the map.

Until I was well into my 30s, I didn’t even know I could say no.  Being in paid ministry as a career didn’t help this much.  It’s not really a good excuse.  It’s just a reason.  I thought if somebody in the church asked me (or told me) to do something, I was automatically bound by their request or demand.

Getting a calendar and learning how to live by it helped.  At least with a calendar, fewer things fell off the map.  It was part of the answer, but not the whole answer.  The bigger part of the answer to this problem was learning a skill I hadn’t developed up to that point in my life.  I didn’t know how to say no.  When I began learning how, my life got a little less messy.  Not everybody was happy that I had learned to say no, though.  This took me a little by surprise, but I believe it’s just the way it works.  I’m not great at it yet.  I’m still learning.  But I’m getting better at it.

All this shameless self-disclosure set me up to talk about the 6th thing on my list.

  • To know the difference between needs and wants
  • To know the difference between suffering and inconvenience
  • To know how to sacrifice for someone or something
  • To know how to express their emotions in appropriate ways
  • To know how to make, save and spend money
  • To know how to say yes and no

I believe knowing when and how to say yes and how to say no is a life-giving skill that you will want your kids to have.

Remember when they were 2?  Saying no wasn’t a problem then.  It seemed like that was their favorite word.  Until they turned 3 and it became “why,” because they didn’t always want to say no.  Obviously, we’re all capable of articulating this very big two-letter word, and have been saying it for a very long time.  The problem is we’re not very often good at saying it at the right time for the right reasons.

So let’s start with a wrong reason to say yes or no, Peer Pressure. If you’re kid’s in preschool, there’s peer pressure there, even if the literature the director of the preschool sent home with you assures you otherwise.  If you’ve got human children in the room, there will be peer pressure.  You remember from your own school career that peer pressure is omnipresent.  There’s no getting away from it.  Lots of bad things have come to pass in kid’s lives as the result of buckling to peer pressure.  Perhaps some good things have come from it, too, but the scales are tipped very far in the direction of bad things.  It’s a reality that you can’t make go away.  You can’t afford to pretend it doesn’t exist, or that it’s not an issue for your kids.

Most kids will try to leverage peer pressure as a trump card.  “But EVERYBODY’s doing it.”  If you haven’t heard it yet, get ready, because it’s coming.  And if you’ve heard it, you’ll hear it again.  Even thoroughly well-adjusted kids feel the pressure of what everybody’s doing.  I don’t know of a good work-around for this.  My best advice is, “Don’t try to reason with them on this.”  Your air-tight line of reasoning won’t overcome the emotion your kid is feeling.  They’re not telling you that everybody’s doing it because they’ve done the research on it, and it seems like the very best thing is to join in and do it, too.  They’re telling you this because they really, really want to do it.  It’s very strongly emotional.  So strong, in fact, that it will often become irrational.

What you most want is for your kid to develop their own criteria for saying yes or no.  To get to that destination, you’ll have to be directive.  Especially when they’re young.  Sometimes you’ll just have to draw a line in the sand and say, “No, you won’t be doing this,” and live with the backlash.  When the dust settles and their blood pressure comes back to normal, talk about why you said no.  This is when your reasoning matters.  But not when and they are in the stress of the disagreement.  Come back to it.

To do this, you have to think through and own your personal criteria for saying yes or no.  Out of this, you’ll be able to guide your kids to a good criteria for them to own and use.  So what’s your criteria?  I’ll make a few sketchy suggestions.

  1. Is it morally right?  Sounds too easy, maybe, but if you don’t start here, you’ll wish you had.  For young children, don’t ask if it’s morally right.  Ask if Jesus would say it’s a good thing to do.
  2. What will doing this (or not doing it) do to your reputation?  More importantly, what will it do to Jesus’ reputation?  This is really part b to the first one on morality.
  3. How much time will doing this take?  It doesn’t apply to every decision, but it’s more often than not a consideration.
  4. Can you do this and keep your commitments?  In other words, will you have to say no to something you’ve already said yes to in order to do this?  Is there room in your life for this without missing a commitment you’ve already made?
  5. Do you have the money to make this work?  I mean, do you have it now?  Because if you don’t have it now, you really should say no until you’ve got the cash.
  6. Have you done your homework?  Just thought I’d put this one in, because it will probably fit…

You should add to the list and replace items that don’t work for you.  You need your own list.  And your kids do, too.

From → Marriage, Parenting

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