“Are there any other middle school moms out there whose kids’ don’t have an IG account? My daughter doesn’t believe me when I tell her she is not the only one.”
This was a post I read on my local moms’ group Facebook page.
I recognized the name, as her daughter and mine attend the same school, so I responded: “Me! We don’t have social media for our kids either.”
She sent me a private message a few minutes later. “I seriously thought we might be the only ones left. I’m not ready for her to have it yet, but then I thought maybe I was the only one and being overprotective. Knowing that there’s one other parent out there made me feel so much better.”
It’s not the first time I’ve heard this. It’s lonely when you are the mom saying no in a world that always seem to say yes.
It’s not only about social media. It might be about curfews or sleepovers or Fortnite.
And being the only mom to say no—regardless of how right you are—can come with consequences for your tween and teen.
A friend of a Junior in high school called me during prom season to say she was the only parent out of 20 kids who said her daughter couldn’t attend a co-ed sleep over, so the group dropped her off early so as not to disrupt their plans. Another friend said she was ostracized for not allowing her 16-year-old son go to Mexico for spring break without any adults.
It’s a delicate balancing act, raising big kids. You want them to be independent, yet one mistake can change the trajectory of their lives. You want your son or daughter to be accepted by their peers, but not at the expense of risking safety. You want them to become trustworthy, but sometimes you know they can’t yet be trusted.
So we say no.
Teens lack the ability to make smart decisions on a regular basis. Friendships—which are so important to teenagers—can easily outweigh their need to be responsible or safe. They are thrill seekers. They like to push limits.
But more than that, they’re not stupid. As much as we want to believe our kids tell us everything, they don’t come home and tell us when they’ve engaged in risky behavior.
So, sometimes we say no, because we don’t get a replacement if something happens to our kids.
Being the “no” mom is lonely. It is hard. It makes every relationship—with your child, with their friends, with your friends—more difficult.
We want our kids to be happy. It’s nice when they fit in. And sometimes we just don’t want a knock-down, drag-out fight about every ask.
But there are times when saying no is important, even when—especially when—every other parent is saying yes.
And the weird thing is, our kids want us to set limits. Sometimes they are even relieved when we say no, giving them an out for something they may not have been ready to do anyway.
If you’re sometimes a “no” mom, know that you’re not alone. It’s just that no one is posting photos about that time they said “no” to their kids.
Keep parenting from your gut. Your kids will turn out alright.
I mean, we did. Right?
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