I had so many parenting ideas before I actually became a mother. Bet you did, too. The word NO seems a lot easier to say when you have imaginary children. When was the last time you caught yourself doing something EXACTLY like your parents did or allowed that one thing you swore you never would? I shake my head and laugh when I think about my inexperienced, pre-parent self. All the times I firmly said, “I’ll never allow…” or my defiant, “When I have kids they won’t…” Riiiiiiiiiiiight. So. Funny.
The NOs that somehow became YESes.
Screen time/TV time
I probably said yes way more times than I should have, but I refuse to dwell on “mom mistakes.” Our kids turned okay and now they seem bored with staring at a screen for too long. Maybe restricting screen time makes them want it more? What’s been your experience?
Finish your plate
This sounds great in theory, but little tummies do not require as much food at one meal. As long as they were eating somewhat healthy, I didn’t make them finish. I just put less on their plate to start with and then they could ask for seconds. Having meals together as a family was more important than what they were eating.
When they were littles, we had a routine — dinner, play, bath, book, then bed — but we didn’t stay as true to the specific hour as much as I thought I would. As long as the order of events stayed the same, our kids grew accustomed to what would happen next. The routine was there — the time, ehhh — not so much.
But there are a few HARD NOs that I decided long before I dated, got married and had children that actually stuck. My stance never wavered on certain deal-breakers and absolutes. These rules are 110% true today with two kids as they were before I even gave birth.
The NOs that are actual, for real NO
No on the word “HUH?”
It doesn’t have to be “Ma’am?” but give me something other than “HUH?” Try saying, “Sorry, I didn’t hear you?” Or “What did you say, please?” but never the word that sounds more like a grunt, “Huh?” To me, “Huh” is super cringe-worthy and impolite.
I remember dating a guy in high school and meeting distant relatives at Family Reunion Cookout. A three-year-old cousin was cussing worse than any R-rated movie. It was unnerving to hear this little boy — not having a clue what he was saying — saying all the naughty words. His parents thought it was hysterical, but to this day I think they allowed part of his innocence to be taken away.
No smoking in a car or nearby
I smoked a long time ago so I’m not a prude, but this one seems like an absolute no-brainer. I cannot understand why someone would smoke around a child. You are old enough to make your own choices, but kids and infants have those decisions made for them. It’s not like they can avoid it. Children don’t have the luxury of getting another car ride or living in a different house.
No loud radio
Speaking of cars, no loud radios near children’s tender ears. We are a radio family. My husband’s long-standing radio career has been a wonderful provider for our family, so I am definitely NOT against radio. As a mom, I say NO to a loud radio near children, even more so in a closed environment like a car. Infants and toddlers can’t voice that it’s hurting their tiny little eardrums.
No forced affection
This is a BIG ONE for me. It is my hardest NO and it borders on H-E double hockey sticks, no. I will not allow anyone, including grandparents or other family members, to say, “GIVE me a kiss goodbye” or “I want a hug, gimme’ one.” You MUST ask my child. “Will you give me a kiss goodbye?” “May I have a hug, please?” You cannot force affection or demand it. Please ask. When you command it, you’re taking away the child’s power to decide if they want it or not. In my opinion, they need to learn at an early age that they can say no to ANY unwanted affection.
Okay, I admit this next HARD NO is ridiculous and really has nothing to do with parenting but…
No hangers on door knobs
I cannot help it. I get all nervous and twitchy when I see a hanger on a doorknob and I have zero ideas where my idiosyncrasy originated. It may be a superstition from days of yore, but I can honestly say I’ve never really been superstitious. I think it’s more likely that my disdain for hangers on doorknobs is because they’re not aesthetically pleasing. Find a hook, put it in the closet, leave it hanging permanently in the laundry room, but for the love, don’t hang it on a doorknob.