Normalise saying no to your child

Saturday March 27 2021

Min Atek

By Min Atek

‘Can you pick up your shoes and place them neatly where they belong?’  This is a song I sang for four consecutive days and after having enough, I picked up five pairs of shoes, packed and stored them in some unknown location.

The next day being a school day, the child thought if he asked politely, I would hand over the shoes back to him. I said a very firm no.  Shocked, he looked at me and began to give me what he perceived to be perfect explanations in order to get the shoes back. I listened quietly, nodded my head in agreement and held onto my NO!

During another incident, I collected some of his favourite jeans, T-shirts and some of the bedding. Knowing his mother, eventually he began to understand the point I was driving home. If you cannot be a responsible steward of the resources given to you, the parent can withdraw the privilege to allow you some deep reflections on how to move forward.

Many parents today have found themselves in a place where they are allergic to the little word No! One old man taught me that ‘the parenting journey is not a popularity contest.’

As parents, we are tasked to make decisions and choices for children which may not necessarily be popular but essential for their own good.

Not too long ago, after a series of repeated warnings, I confiscated mobile phones and every electronic gadget from my teenagers. Their reactions were typical; shock, anger, denial, frustration, disbelief and pain.


Often times, each one of them comes and requests to have their phones back. In fact, one particular child writes what they believe are charming notes to woo me into changing my mind.

So far, my response has been the same, NO. Do I enjoy to chastise or reprimand my children? Absolutely not. Repeatedly saying no to a child is no mean feat. Sometimes I wish there was a way of handing the entire parenting role to someone else, while I paid them. But that is not necessarily wise or prudent.

I carry the responsibility of leading and grooming these children. I am challenged to push them out of complacency and mediocrity, all of which will not win me the popularity ticket. I will not be their most favourite person and oftentimes, I can see if they had a way, they would exchange me for another mother. But someone has to put in the hours and resources. I endure the experiences and the discomfort. Every tree needs to be pruned in order to bear much fruit.