An Irish mother has opened up on Facebook about her former obsession with pleasing people, and her decision to give herself (and her kids) permission to say ‘no’ way more often.
Emma Lou Harris, a Limerick-based mother of two, recently decided enough was enough. She was sick of always being “a yes girl.” So she wrote a heart-rending post about it, and wow, did she ever nail the importance of “learning to love No.”
Learning to love "No" I've always been a yes girl. Yes to everyone but myself. My anxiety simply couldn't tolerate…
Nope, nuh-uh, non
As Emma Lou explains in her post, she has struggled with a life-long need to please people. Something so many women can identify with. She explained that “‘No’ provoked a guilt in me that I wished to avoid so it always seemed easier to say yes then to face the consequence of decisiveness head on. Even if that ‘ yes’ led me into situations I also wished to avoid.”
What really rattled her though, was the fact that this desire to please was seeping into her parenting, and leading her to cave into the demands of her children, 3-year-old Frankie, and 1-year-old Jax.
As Emma Lou explains, she was “always giving in, always saying yes when it wasn’t deserved and sometimes at times when it wasn’t even requested.”
The reason? She was worried her kids would “hate” her for saying no. In her words: “I was happier to accept looking like a walk over then a monster.”
If you’re nodding your head, you’re not alone. As parents, we feel a powerful instinct to please our children. But as Emma Lou points out in her post, there comes a time when we need to set some critical boundaries.
“Saying ” No” is not about denying them something, but it’s gifting them with the reassurance that saying ‘No’ is Ok,” writes Emma Lou. “When I say ‘No’ to my child it’s not because I am a mean mother, it’s BECAUSE I am THEE mother.”
Oh yes, A thousand times yes! She goes on to explain what this means for her son:
“It’s telling my small son who will one day be a man, that NO means NO.
A man who I hope will go on dates, or a have relationships or marriage.
He needs to know that No means No and there are not any exceptions to that.”
And also what it means for girls:
“It’s teaching my daughter also, that NO means NO and that she needs to feel ok with that decision.
She’s ENTITLED to say ‘No’.”
We all agree
Judging by the comments on Emma Lou’s post, we’re all struggling with the tough job of standing firm.
One mother comments that “this was my biggest struggle. Until I had an ah” moment and everything changed. I’m learning to say NO and be happy and content with the decision . This post was so on point for me.”
It helps when mothers like Emma Lou can honestly unravel the things that hold us back as parents, and find a way forward that not only makes us feel better about our parenting skills, but also helps our children become better human beings.
Emma Lou’s sign off says it all: “Now I say ‘No’. Not because I don’t love my children, but because I love them TOO much to always say yes.”