Thursday, May 22, 2008

Tough but Fair...

We’ve talked a lot this week about tough love as it relates to raising children: about the need for discipline, for giving our children the room to make their own mistakes, and the need for them to then live with the results of those mistakes. As a parent, I agree. Those are all enormously important and incredibly difficult things to do. Looking into your child’s eyes and saying “no” is hard. Letting him suffer the consequences of his behavior can be harder still.

But the concept of tough love has other implications as well. It isn’t just about raising children. And oddly, it can tie into our topic from last week: time management. I live near my father, who is an utterly wonderful man, and quite possibly the world’s best grandfather. I am grateful every day for the time and effort he puts into being part of my sons’ lives. But sometimes I have to say no to him, too. Since I work at home, it’s so easy for him to suggest we do something during school hours—whether it’s shopping for this or that, or he’ll offer to come over and help fix something around my house, or suggest today is the day we take my car for an oil change, his treat—how can I say no? He’s been there for me every day of my life. But this is work. I have to remember that. So sometimes, I do have to say, “not today, Dad,” even if it kills me. Same goes for friends. In-laws. (And I have fabulous in-laws, too!) My RWA chapter—this is the first year in forever I said no to chairing a committee or being on the board. And even the dh, when he asks if I can run this errand or that, when I really need to be writing.

Saying no is never fun. It’s so much easier, for me at least, to go with the flow and have everyone smile at you. But that’s not fair to you, and it isn’t really fair to anyone else.


  1. Sigh. I can't say NO either. I get volunteered for EVERYTHING and I nod and smile like a bloomin' idiot and agree even when I know I should JUST SAY NO.

    Great post, Cindy!

  2. Oh, I can relate, Cindy. I'm still a sucker for requests by my parents. Even as tough as it is to say no to a child, it is almost unbearable to have to say no to a parent... Excellent post.

  3. Yep. My dad was given a brand new laptop by a parishioner. He called me up and announced that he needed me to come stay with them for a couple of weeks and teach him how to use it.

    Um... he lives in Texas...1700 miles from here. He was very upset when I said that I just couldn't come there right then and teach him how to use the computer.

  4. I say no a lot. Is there a point where no is too much?

  5. I could never say no. As a result I was so overwhelmed by various tasks, volunteering, babysitting, visiting my mother daily, coordinatind and judging contests,... Finally, it's my husband who stepped in and made me see we didn't have a life anymore. I dropped the judging of contests. I plan to drop coordinating my chapter contest. I told my daughter I can babysit two days a week but I can't just drive 45 min every other day for emergencies. They always have emergency.

    I believe disciplining children and let them learn from their mistakes, but if the consequences are bad I step in and help. I can't see my kids suffering.

  6. My MIL goes through bouts of depression/loneliness once a month or so, and if I'm 'in the zone' when she calls and wants company, it's hard to squeeze in an hour with her. Especially if I've already been to see her the day before! I usually tell 'No promises, but I'll try' and she knows I'll have more news when there is several days between visits! But sometimes I absolutely cringe when I see her number on the Caller ID and realize an entire week has passed, or think, 'but I just saw you last night!'

  7. Bravo Cindy! this is an excellent point of view as relates to the topic of discussion here!

    Indeed we have to show tough love to ourselves too, since we should be the first person to love our selves. If we don't love our selves, then nobody else will... ( But then that is another matter)

    We have to be tough with ourselves in order to be strong, physically, mentally & emotionally!

    Support is good sometimes. But a constant support & dependence would cripple us & can deteriorate into being a crutch!

    & to be crippled & walking with a crutch would be shattering for self esteem!


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