Saying “no” — which includes setting boundaries for your children — is one of the greatest acts of love that you can give your children, beginning when they are small and continuing throughout their growing up years.
If you never say no to your children, never teach them the value of “no,” you will create a monster. You can’t give in to children every time they want something, and it doesn’t matter if you can afford to give them everything they want — you still shouldn’t.
For example, it’s OK to buy children back-to-school clothes in a big shopping trip, but if you buy them something every day, then it’s not special. You don’t want to desensitize gift-giving. And if parents don’t say no, if their child is demanding something — whether it’s a new toy or dress — kids won’t appreciate what they’re given. It will become meaningless to them.
Now let me tell you — believe it or not, children and teenagers are happier when they’re told no. It makes them feel more secure. Here’s a great example: your teenage daughter or son will come to you one day and say, “Everyone is going out tonight and I want to go too.” You’ll say, “Your curfew is midnight!” Your child will say, “I hate you, you’re the worst mother, you’re not cool — I want my friend’s mother!”
You’ll stick to your guns, and your child will meet her friends and here’s what will happen: one friend will have the same curfew, another friend will have a 1 a.m. curfew and another friend will have no curfew.
Now, I assure you, that child without a curfew wishes they had one. The curfew you imposed tells your child, “I love you, I care what happens to you and I want you home at a reasonable time.” The child without a curfew doesn’t feel like her parents are cool. She feels like her parents don’t care about her and aren’t worried about her.
Believe me, being a little tough on your kids — giving them boundaries, saying no — these are huge acts of love!