The One Phrase Every Parent Needs in their Toolkit.

When you children ask you to go somewhere, have someone over or buy this or that; do you find yourself agreeing to things that you later regret, or do you go the opposite way, is your default answer set to NO? (FYI…That was me)

I found myself automatically answering no whenever my children made a request and not because everything they wanted was unreasonable, expensive or too hard.  I was struggling to see my past my stuff.  I was a single mum raising 3 chatty and full of life kids, I was working full time and although I wasn’t unhappy, I was at times stretched, so found it difficult to say yes, I was worried about another burden on my time and energy.

I had a wake-up call when one of my girls pointed out in that hurt and disappointed voice (damn me for empowering them to speak up) that I always say no.  At the time, I felt attacked and a bit defensive, but sadly, she was right, I did always say no and I wasn’t happy about it, it wasn’t fair to them or me.

So what I adopted, because I didn’t want to then switch to always saying yes, was a new phrase that has served me very well over the years.  There are many variations on the theme, but it is essentially, “let me think about it”.  This one phrase has created peace and harmony in my family like none other. Because when I say it, I mean it, I DO think about it and I get back to them with a thought-out response, rather than a shot fired from the hip.

“Let me think about that” gives me space to think…Is this something I am willing to do, is there really a reason why not, other than I can’t be bothered?  Because mostly, I decided that “I can’t be bothered” is not a good enough reason.  I won’t accept “can’t be bothered” from them when I ask them to do the dishes or bring in the washing, so I need to model more appropriate responses.

It also means that if it is a no, it’s accepted in a far better way because I will have a reason why not (and it’s Friday night, I’m too tired to be responsible for other people’s children) is a valid reason for not wanting to host a sleepover. It tells my children I care enough to take the time and see if I can make it work for us both.

If nagging occurs for a quick response, I will say, “If you give me time to think, it might be a yes, but if you demand an answer before I have had time to think it through, it will be a no. So, would you prefer me answer now, or will you give me time to get back to you?”  Works a treat!!

But remember, it will only work, if you keep to your word and follow up with a thoughtful response.

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