Teaching LOVE by Saying “NO”

I had to do a double-take.

What?

Wait a minute.

Did that say what I think it said?

Yep. Yep it did. 

Pictured on a ginormous billboard was a small child. And on that child’s face was a plastered smile the size of Ohio and in that child’s hand was a two-scoop ice cream cone (an intact one at that…no drippy-melty, no messy-messy).

And to the left of this child with the big smile and the yummy cone, read the following:

We avoided the tantrum! 

I have absolutely no clue what was being advertised or who was doing the advertising ( because in all honesty, my parenting mind was a mess of twisted thoughts), but the message was as big as the billboard.

Give your kid what they want because dealing with a tantrum is NOT what you want.

And at first, my parenting mind smiled and my inward mama agreed (“mmmhmmm”) because Lord knows, “Ain’t no parent wanna deal with those train-wreck tantrums.”

Why?

Because NOT dealing is easier and simpler.

Because NOT dealing is less noise, less drama, and less work.

Because NOT dealing is more convenient and more peaceful.

Because NOT dealing seems to make EVERYONE a “little-bit-more” happier and sane!

My mama brain gets it; I really do! In fact, my mama-self has settled for that route more than I would like to admit. 

I’m trying to have a conversation with a dear friend…just avoid the tantrum.

We’re spending time with family…just avoid the tantrum.

I’m drinking my HOT coffee…just avoid the tantrum.

We’re out for dinner…just avoid the tantrum.

I’m attempting to write…just avoid the tantrum.

We’re hosting a play-date…just avoid the tantrum.

I. GET. IT.

And yet…as I glanced again at that kid with the cone on the billboard, the other part of my mama-self cringed.

Why?

Because even though NOT dealing might be easier, simpler, and more peaceful in the short-term,  it doesn’t necessarily produce BETTER in the long-term. 

Parenting intentionally in and through the “hard” is HARD WORK.

Parenting intentionally in and through the “hard” is NOT CONVENIENT. 

Parenting intentionally in and through the “hard” is SACRIFICIAL.

Parenting intentionally in and through the “hard” is NOT FOR THE FAINT OF HEART. 

Parenting intentionally in and through the “hard” requires saying, “NO,” to not only our kids, but also to life’s many, MANY ice cream cones. 

Why?

Because when we say “no” and “hold our ground,” (even though  a tantrum may ensue) we are teaching our kids all kinds of things that ice cream cones can’t. 

We are teaching boundaries.

We are teaching expectations.

We are teaching, “Life isn’t always a ‘yes.’ ”

We are teaching emotion regulation.

We are teaching self control.

We are teaching delayed gratification.

We are teaching, “You aren’t the controller of your universe.”

We are teaching, “You and your needs aren’t the universe.”

We are teaching LOVE, and PERSEVERANCE, and CHARACTER, and HOPE in things that DO NOT disappoint. (Romans 5:4)

So hold fast, parents of tantrum-throwing children of ALL ages, the rewards of DEALING WITH THE TANTRUMS (rather than avoiding them) can most definitely outweigh the reward of that immediate ice cream cone–the one that will eventually melt and drip away. 

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