Is Your “Maybe” a Lie?


say no

“Can I go to the football game Friday? Everyone else is going and their parents are just dropping them off,” my 13-year-old daughter asked me with wide eyes, anxiously awaiting my response.

In moments like these, I once would have said, “maybe” or “we’ll see.” But I already knew the answer was going to be “no.” I just didn’t want to say it. Attempting to avoid witnessing her disappointment, I was just buying time. This was actually causing more problems than good. Here are 4 reasons to stop saying “maybe.”

1. “Maybe” multiplies the disappointment.

Saying “maybe” gives your child or teen the impression that it could happen, and therefore he or she goes on thinking and hoping it will. This builds anticipation. So a day, a week, a month later when the event actually comes, his or her disappointment is even worse.

2. “Maybe” isn’t your honest answer.

We really aren’t being honest with our kids when we say “maybe.” We have good reasons for saying “no” and we have wisdom beyond theirs. They might not like it or understand it, but that doesn’t mean we should shield them from the truth. In fact, the more we share our wisdom with them, the more they will internalize it (slowly but surely).

3. A changed answer later is a good surprise.

It’s ok to say no and change your mind later. If you say no and change your answer to yes when your schedule changes or after you’ve learned more information, you’ve got a nice surprise for your child. Warning: Do not use this option too frequently or your child will start to expect it.

4. Too many “Maybes” invites challenge.

When you say “maybe,” you give up your right as a parent to be definitive. When we aren’t definitive, we allow the child to believe the answer is up for debate. Sometimes it could be, but most of the time, it is not. Your “no” puts up a firm boundary where there needs to be one. “No” is one way of loving your child. “No” says, “You didn’t earn this,” “This isn’t safe,” or “This doesn’t work for the family.” These are all messages our kids need to hear sometimes.

When do you find it most difficult to say no to your children?

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