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Does It Make Me A Bad Mom For Saying ‘No’ More Than ‘Yes’ To My Kids?

Posted: December 21, 2020

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I don’t think I am wrong to not give in to all of my kids’ demands just to show them that I love them and want the best for them!

As a mother, it is my constant endeavour to provide my daughters with every opportunity for their academic and personal enhancement. I firmly believe that encouragement comes not just by spoken words but also by parental action.

However, I would like to reiterate that I am a mother who does not needlessly agree to everything or give in to her kid’s demands. I love my children but I do not exhibit that via agreeing to their demands.

My girls often call me a tyrant at home, since according to them, I say ‘No’ more often than I say ‘Yes.’ Do I take that as an insult? Hell no! I take that as a compliment.

To me, it is a reaffirmation of the fact that as a mother I am really involved in the lives of my girls. Ours is a typical middle-class working household. Hard work has always been the foundation of the life that we have been able to provide for our children. But, has it only been our hard work, my husband’s and mine? No, it has not.

They know whatever they get is because of their hard work

My husband is a softie when it comes to his daughters. He can never say ‘no’ to them. So, the onus of that falls to me. The one thing that I have been very firm about, right from the beginning when they were toddlers is that any entitlements have to be earned. There are no free lunches in life, especially not at my home.

So, if my daughters have the latest cell phones, it is in recognition of their academic advancement or excellence or some other such achievement. I set them clear and achievable goals. Any entitlements/rewards/gifts they get are in return for their hard work towards the achievement of those goals. It is important to me that they exhibit the inclination to spend some sweat equity to get what that they want.

The concept of pocket money was something that I inculcated early in them. Though the quantum given has changed over time the value of the money and responsible usage is impressed upon them every time money is dispensed.

My children manage their pocket money and save up too. When they have enough, they deposit the same in their bank accounts. Over the years they have collected a tidy sum. Most of this is invested by me in their names, with their permission, and after discussing the pros and cons of the investments.

We were all for supporting her dreams but…

My older daughter is a creative soul. As a mother, I have always encouraged her creativity and artistic flair. When she turned sixteen, she came to my husband and me and told us that she wanted to start YouTube content creation.

Now, my husband has absolutely zero ideas about social media. Heck, the man is not even on social media! And, although, I am on social media, my understanding of YouTube is pretty limited. Initially, I was extremely unsure.

I admit the move was pretty uncharacteristic on my daughter’s part too. She is a quiet-natured homebody. But, YouTubing was her way of stepping out of her comfort zone and challenging her demons. How could I not support it? So, I did. And, even though my husband had some misgivings about his baby being ‘gawked at by all manner of men,’ he gave in. Did I not say that he can never deny his daughters anything?

But, after that our daughter told us that in order to video log she would need to invest in a camera which costs a whopping 50k. Additionally, she would also need to purchase some software and lights and other equipment.

To her credit, my daughter had researched for days and then identified the model of the camera that she wanted. As expected, when she asked for 50k, my husband instantly agreed. But, you can imagine how that sat with me. I put my foot down and said ‘NO!’

So, does that make me a bad mother?

I made it a life lesson for her!

I am sure many of you would think so. Well, I mean, who asks their daughter for a return on the stuff they buy them? If a child cannot go to her parents and ask for things then where is she supposed to get them?

Some of you may even think that it is all this saying ‘no’ that turns a child on the path of misdeeds. But, I differ on that thought. I believe that in the life of a parent there are many teaching moments.

They are instances that help us to build discipline, integrity and character in our children. These instances help us teach our children the value of perseverance, patience and hard work. Should we pass up such opportunities? I don’t think so.

It was not that I could not afford to purchase the camera. I could. But, my refusal stemmed from the fact that the moment for me was a ‘teaching moment.’ It was a moment when I could impart a life lesson to my child which would serve her well in future.

So, after much deliberation, I told my daughter that if she wanted the camera, I would loan her the money. No freebies at all! She could treat me as an investor and not as a money bank.

She came up with a great plan and we learnt a few things too

Why did I do that? Well, loaning her the money came with the following prerequisites:

  1. My daughter would need to come up with a clearly outlined business proposal.
  2. She would need to do a SWOT (strength, weakness, opportunity and threat analysis) of the decision).
  3. And she would need to show us an ROI (return on the investment) on the investment we were making in her. It could be a quantifiable return or in terms of personal or professional enhancement.
  4. She would need to tell her a ‘What If’ analysis (contingency plans or a backup strategy if things did not go according to plan).
  5. And lastly, she would need to pitch the idea to both of us in a presentation.

My daughter came up with the business proposal. It was a four-page document that detailed what YouTube is, how it could help her, and what she would do. She even came up with a repayment plan. Then, she pitched the idea to us. We questioned and cross-questioned her during the pitch like any other investor would. She answered and needless to say we did buy her the camera.

Now, many of you will ask why I did the above. Why I demanded that my child give me the above in return for just a camera that I could clearly afford. Well, it was because there are quite a few lessons that I taught my daughter via this entire episode.

These are the lessons she learnt

Owing up to your decision: I taught her to own her decisions and that any decision (important or otherwise) taken in life always comes with consequences. It is important to deliberate and to understand what the consequences would be before we jump into anything.

Rising up to expectation: I taught my daughter that when it comes to expectations, those who invest will have more than what she ever could from her dream. Dreams are free, aren’t they? They are not beholden to reality. But, realism demands an exacting price. It demands hard work, frustration and even failure at times. Making the presentation and understanding the pros and cons of her decisions helped my child to understand the same. It is a lesson which I am sure she will always remember.

Being accountable: Since I had invested in her proposition, I held my child accountable, with regards to periodic reports on her progress. This act ensured that she did not flake out on her decision or lose interest after a while. It kept her on track and ascertained that she knew what was expected and how far she had to go to deliver. This was my way of teaching her to be a responsible adult.

Being receptive: My daughter’s YouTube videos have generated interest and she is getting subscribers. However, my involvement did not stop at just loaning her the money. No, I am involved even now and am quite candid about my feedback.

Does it make me a bad mom?

I scrutinise each video. Then I offer suggestions on how to make it better in terms of content, body language, facial expression, diction, vocabulary, lighting and what not! It is clear to my daughter that as a person who has been invested on, she needs to be receptive to ideas and suggestions from her investors.

The upshot of the above has been that my daughter has emerged as a more confident individual. Oh, it has definitely not all been smooth sailing. She has had quite a few naysayers also. But, thanks to her immersion in her idea as a business proposal, she has been able to handle her detractors with ease. She understands that every problem comes with a solution and that sometimes she may need to look beyond the obvious curtains and part them to find the solution.

Recently, she came to me again and professed a desire to hire an agency to manage her Instagram account. You already know what my answer to that was, don’t you? My daughter is working on her proposal. The research is on and in due time she hopes to pitch it to us.

So, tell me, am I a bad mother for saying ‘no’?

Picture credits: Still from Bollywood movie Helicopter Eela

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Sonal believes that life is a repertoire of anecdotes strung together in a colourful array,

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