Parents, Hold Your NO!


Holding your NO as a parent is not always easy. But for heaven’s sake, hold it! And hold it tight and true! I recently posted a video of me having to come to terms with this fact all over again. And I already knew it. Talk about teach and re-teach! Parenting is not for sissies! And we need each other–phoning a friend is encouraged!


Stop, think and ask yourself when was the last time you had to hold your “NO”. If it was tough and you still did it, I’m high-fiving you virtually!


I often work with young adults who are coming out of addiction for the 2nd and 3rd times. Their parents love them. Most gave them everything they could by way of opportunities and experiences but somehow failed to give them the very thing the kid actually needed.


Real Love.


Not imitation crap that we call love, but the real deal. The kind where you know you are loved even when you totally screw things up. And that people love you for YOU and not how you make THEM feel.


Not to be confused with rescuing kids or blaming parents for the poor decisions kids will sometimes make ALL. ON. THEIR. OWN.


I repeat: Real Love is caring more about the happiness of the other person rather than how they make you feel. That’s Real Love according to Greg Baer and his book Real Love.


But really it was presented way back with influencers like Jesus and the Buddha and in stories like The Gift of the Magi, and in TV series like Little House on the Prairie and Parenthood. I could go on. But it’s not like most of what we experience in our own lives and in the media today.


What we see now is imitation love.  On Youtube, Facebook,, Snapchat, Instagram, and the like, most of us are craving the followers or likes or comments to make sure we feel valued and adored.  We are trading praise, power, pleasure and safety rather than waiting on the real thing. Most of us don’t even know the real thing exists.


It sounds good, but come on, who can care more about my happiness than how I make them feel?!?


And this is where parents have to double down. Otherwise, kids will take the next easy means to feel praise, power, pleasure or safety.


This is our primary job. I realized it when my kids were 5 and 7 years old and prior to this I thought I had been doing a good job. I had no doubt I loved my kids. But I didn’t understand that loving them meant not needing them to make me feel like a good parent. Say what?!?


I had been a nanny, a teacher, a school counselor, a non-profit director for education and a therapist in private practice all where I had to build relationships with people and communicate effectively in order to be successful in my job.


But I’m here to tell you, that isn’t the same as parenting! It just isn’t. When it’s your own kid, it brings up all your unfinished business from your own parents. I don’t care how much therapy you’ve had or how “amazing” your parents were, you will be humbled by this awesome task of parenting! And if you’re not finding that to be true, I’m going to suggest you might be getting it wrong. Or I want to come be a fly on your wall and study your magic!


Yes, there is a wrong style of parenting if you want your children to thrive and live fulfilling lives with quality relationships and contribute to society. Yes, I know you’d take a bullet for them or unflinchingly check to see if you were a kidney match, but the tougher ask is will you hold your “no”.  Will you let them fail? Will you allow other people to invent stories about you? About your child? Will you love your kid THAT much?


They don’t need to like you or agree with you or even want to spend time with you for you to be doing your job as parent. In fact, that might be a sign that things are going okay, especially if your child is a limit pusher. Limit pushers need us more than most! And they know you desperately want to be with them having fun, laughing, enjoying life together, and one day you might. But not right now. Right now, they need you to be the prefrontal cortex for them. They need you to say NO.


So their life can become a great big YES later on!

“Easy choices now = Hard life later on

Hard choices now = Easy life later on”