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.