We’ve been knocking heads more than usual these days. As a mom of teen people transitioning into young adults, I’ve been anticipating some friction. I was sorry, however, for the timing. In the middle of putting out some surrounding fires I became short with her. I’ve coached my kids to set me up for a “yes” whenever possible, that’s my heart as a parent.
I’d prefer avoiding dishing out a “no” whenever I can. Occasionally, we need to find a middle ground when I’m not comfortable with the “ask.” That day much to her dismay, I was tired. A quick “no” was easy to dispense. Putting out the fires of everyday life can be exhausting, and I was ready to scream, “Calgon take me away.” That’s when she approached me with her request.
It wasn’t altogether unreasonable, yet as she pushed against my boundaries of comfort, I pushed back. “Push back” is that a term in your home? I laugh sometimes when people share their stories of “sass” from their kids. My typical response is… “have you met my 6’5″ son? I’m a pro at push back.” Preschoolers have no chance against me. Usually, I’m the one getting the “push back” this was my rare occasion to dish it out.
She was handling it well. There was a game of tug of war being played which required her to be assertive. I’ve coached my kids to be assertive. It takes courage to be assertive.
I want them to “ask.” I don’t want them to be held back by fear. They’ve just got to be ready to handle a “no.” This is hard for many adults. Myself included. Often times I think we can misappropriate a “no” and add it to our “rejection” list. It’s hard not to personalize everything in life. A “no” can simply be that…”no.” It can have nothing to do with you. A “no” can be birthed in a variety of ways; the timing’s not right, the need doesn’t fit, or it’s just flat out not comfortable to give a “yes.”
I used to tell my kids that when I checked out of the hospital when they were each born, that with them I also received 1 million “nos.” “No” is the word we use to create boundaries. Boundaries with ourselves (no ice cream Melissa.) Boundaries with others (no thank you…salesperson.) “Push back” on the other hand can help us find a “yes” when “no” seems wrong.
Like I said, I didn’t want to say “no,” I just wasn’t comfortable with saying “yes.” Ultimately, through “pushing back” on her request, forcing her to edit her request until we could both be satisfied with the solution, she presented an option that yielded a “yes.”
I’m seeing both of my teen people grow in this area lately, and it makes me smile. They are about to leave the comfy confines of our family nest and I want them prepared. The world is tough. I’ve spent countless hours trying to mold and shape them with thoughts about leadership, purpose, and choice. This sadly, has not been the case for the vast majority of their contemporaries. In order to live the life they desire, they will need to lead up, down, and from side to side – create their own territory, navigate their own way. I’m not ashamed to have trained them to stand up for themselves in a chaotic world. Who knows maybe they’ll even show others the way. I want them to be strong and courageous, these are the kind of humans we need more than ever.
Be strong and courageous – and assertive this week my friend.