Thursday, September 27, 2012

No for the Sake of No

I wrote this post in response to this photo, which appeared on my Facebook Newsfeed a short while ago.

Often, when I write posts like this one, I intend to go back later, and save them - but life is life, and, often I move on to other things, and don't.

I plan on adding some pictures of my happy kids who hear a lot of yesses - maybe tomorrow. Maybe a year from now. Either way, you can find them in lots of other posts, already here....


I don't know which I find sadder...the original post,or all these comments.

None seem to hold a very positive or respectful attitude toward children.

We gave up an income to homeschool our two living children. Their brother died as a newborn - we know how precious a gift time is, and how uncertain life is.

Our son knew disappointment at 22 months old, when his long-awaited baby brother died without ever leaving the hospital. There was nothing we could do about that disappointment - it was a fact of life.

It was another long year's wait before his sister was born. She has lived with the disappointment of having an older brother she outlived before she ever knew about him, and of knowing she will never get to meet him, ever since she became old enough to understand in the most basic sense (age 2-3).

As we will not be having more children, both live with the disappointment of not having a same-sex sibling. Although close to each other, both have some interests that might be better shared with someone of one's own relative age and gender.

One modest income means that - for all of us - many wants and sometimes a need or two must wait to be filled. We are pretty good at making do, and very ingenious and inventive. No one is afraid to own second -or even fifth - hand goods, here...most of what we have is not new.

Two weeks ago, our beloved cat, whom we had shared our lives with for over six years, died quite suddenly. Again, a sorrow for us all that we can't remove.

Life is full of disappointments that can't be helped. Why pile it on for the sake of "teaching a lesson?" To me, the only lesson to be learned there is that sometimes grownups are hard and mean.

Would any of you like to have someone you cared about, and who held the power in your life, deny you what you wanted for that reason...?

My guess is, it was done to you, too, as children.

It was done to me. My mother had a favorite saying: "Suffer. It builds character."

She made certain that all of her children would have character - and none escaped without soul-deep wounds.

I do not say no to my children if I can say yes. If I can't say yes, I say not now, or we'll have to figure out how. My children know what a budget is, and they know we have one. At 11 and 8, they are reasonable in their requests, and generally can accept denial. Sometimes, when something is desperately wanted, there are tears and less than stellar attitude....

Honestly, though, I have been known to behave that way too, on occasion, and I am 43. How well did YOU handle it the last time you couldn't get something you wanted with every fiber of your being? Did you behave as well as you expect children to? And, if not, how can they, without an example of graciously accepting the impossible.

As to the comments that saying yes makes kids lazy, I have a story about my 11 year old son. The year he was 9, Nintendo released the 3DS. An avid gamer and lover of technology, he was in love. He researched it. We went places where he could try it. he talked to Japanese online friends who had it, and strangers he saw with it.

And we couldn't afford to just go get it for him. We told him we could try to do it for Christmas.

He decided he wanted to go buy it on his birthday, early in September. He began to save his allowance. He arranged to do odd jobs for his grandfather, and asked for money rather than gifts. He saved pennies.

He knew when the price fell by $30.

And, on his tenth birthday, I drove him to the store to bu it. He had been saving for five months.

I don't know how that could be called lazy or spoiled - keep in mind, we offered to buy it for him three months later...without him doing any of the things he did to save up.

It is possible to be your child's parent AND their friend - the best kind of friend who loves you and wants to see you happy and capable, and who guides you and enjoys you.

What is seen as children spoiled by things and parents who say yes too much, is often children who have been given things in place of time and affection, or who are allowed to do as they please without any guidance.

And it is not only children, in our culture, who seem to be trying to fill up a huge emotional hole with things and indulgence. Our economy is in the state that it is in, in America, for precisely that reason.

Denial for the sake of denial is small and mean - not to mention unfair to a child with no other power than to ask Mommy and Daddy and hope they can see that it matters to the child, and that they care enough to think that what matters to their child is as important as what matters to them.

And if any of our children were to die tomorrow - yes, it can and does happen, believe me! - what will have been the point in denying them? What memories will you have made, and what might you regret?

The best way I know to raise kind, considerate, compassionate, decent human beings is to treat THEM with kindness, consideration, compassion, and decency.

One last thing - in what way is this photo a POSITIVE outlook?! I have really enjoyed some of the other posts here, but this one is just simply mean-spirited, and very very unkind.


shannon said...

Amen! Well said, Shan. You hit the nail on the head when you said the problem is parents replace time and attention with "stuff". That's what the world sees when a child is throwing a fit in the store or percieved as "spoiled". Why wouldn't the child be throwing a holy fit when they want something if they've come to equate physical objects with being loved. So sad.

It sounds like you did a wonderful job with your children, and I'm so sorry for your loss.

Shan Jeniah Burton said...

Shannon -

Thank you for stopping by, and for your heroic efforts with the Catpcha, which I didn't know was on.

It's sad how many people think that kids need to be treated harshly in order to learn how to be decent humans...

Children are born decent humans. It's the adults around them who break them...

I struggle to remember why I ever thought force and punishment and lots of no's were a good idea - but there was a time when I did.

Life is better now. Miah and Lise are fun to be with, and they are both more than decent humans!

Saying yes to possibilities and real connection just works for us. =)