It’s Tough to Stand Firm!
Standing Firm with Your Kids is Hard, but Better for the Long Run
When our children are young, we get many opportunities to stand firm over things like candy before dinner, screen time limits and their begging for stuff. Even though these are simple things, it can be rough on us to remain firm. After all, it’s painful to endure the ensuing responses whether they be disappointed looks or all out melt-downs. But deep within our souls we realize we must remain strong. We may not always act on that knowledge, but there is long term payoff each time we do stand firm.
When my children were young, I had shortsighted vision about standing firm. I guess when I stayed strong it was because I felt it was best for my child not to have whatever it was they were begging for at the time. I don’t think I was giving lots of thought to the practice I was getting for when they were older. I now have the hind sight to share with others what holding firm is really all about, long-term.
Saying ‘no’ when you know you should tells your child that she has a strong parent, you love her enough to set and enforce limits and helps her to learn delayed gratification as well as resilience. Another great thing about standing firm is that you are modeling inner strength for your child. When you do not cave to her pressure, she is less likely to cave to peer pressure later on.
Not giving in when our children are young helps us to get really good at standing our ground for when they are older. Then we need it more than ever. I see it much like working out. If our ‘stay strong under the pressure of begging’ muscles are worked all along, when our kids are teens, we are more likely to be able to hang on. We already know what it feels like to have our kids mad at us and we know it will be fine in the long run. We understand that this is part of parenting and we will all get through it. Our kids will get over their anger.
When our children become teenagers they may want to do things that we are uncomfortable with – attend parties where no parents are home, attend parties where a parent is providing alcohol, (yes….there ARE many parents out there who are trying to be cool!), ride with someone who is an unsafe driver or spend countless hours texting while grades are slipping. It is highly likely that as the parent of a teen, you will be faced with having to say ‘no’ to some pretty creepy stuff. If you have been wimpy around limits since your children were little, it will be a lot harder to stand your ground in the heat of their teen pressure. Or, let’s look at it from the positive perspective. If you have been fairly good at it all along, your kids already know that you stand by your values, your word is meaningful, you are firm even when they turn up the heat and you will feel strong enough to take their pressure. The best gift from all of this is that your teens, loud as they may protest, will have a deep respect for you.
So, if your kids are still young, know that when you stand firm by saying ‘no’ when you need to, you are making your life easier down the road. And you are doing your children a world of good by providing loving limits.
No parent is perfect at setting and enforcing limits. We all say ‘yes’ to avoid the wrath or let our kids keep up with the Joneses at times. But when we generally enforce limits from the early ages, we increase the odds the teen years will be more enjoyable.
~ Happy Parenting!
Amy Egan is a certified coach and a trained facilitator of the Love and Logic (TM) parenting programs. She is available for private parent and life coaching, parenting courses and workshops, and speaking engagements. She and her husband are the parents of two teenagers and get many opportunities to practice what Amy teaches! You can contact Amy at firstname.lastname@example.org