Why I Choose Tough Love When Parenting My Children

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“Sometimes I say NO… though my heart longs to say YES.

Like the other day.

My son lost another tooth, and he was thrilled to find a dollar and four quarters from the tooth fairy. He begged me to buy him some candy at the grocery store while he was at school.

And when he got home to find that bag of Airheads on the counter, he actually hopped up and down and squealed! So excited!!

‘Thanks mom!!’

He ate every bite.

But then he realized he had to fork over the money.

‘Hey, Luke. You owe me some money. Remember??’

And when he came downstairs with it, his cheeks were streaked with tears.

‘But it’s my tooth fairy money.’

I almost caved. I almost handed it back to him and smiled and said something like, ‘Don’t worry about it, Buddy. That candy is on me.’

But I didn’t.

Shockingly he was fine.

He moved on. He forgot all about it in maybe three minutes.

On to the next thing.

That’s what we do as parents, don’t we???

We do the hard stuff.

We say NO.

We follow through.

We enforce consequences. We check-up.

We make sure someone’s parents are going to be home. And we even insist on talking to the MOM… ugh, how embarrassing.

We let them fall on their butts on occasion.

We say things like, ‘Huh. Maybe you should talk to your teacher about it.’

We don’t buy the next new gadget. We serve vegetables. We send kids to bed on time.

And when our 12-year-old loses the one-millionth hoodie… we let him go to school cold without one.

Sometimes I realize a YES would make my kids so happy. And I want to be the ‘cool mom.’

A buddy.

A friend.

I long to see my kid’s face light up with glee because I’ve let him skip school or stay up late or I’ve signed off on that form or made an excuse to get him out of a consequence or ‘helped’ write that paper or let him go to an R movie or smiled and nodded at staying up way past bedtime or out with friends after curfew.

I’m sure it would feel amazing…

But really??

That’s not my purpose.

I’m a MOM.

So, I love them and play with them and cheer for them and help them and teach them and pray for them and try to give them every single thing they need.

I really do hope to provide the very best possible life I can imagine for them.

And oftentimes… that means I say NO.

I make the hard decisions. Then I follow through.

And it sucks.

They whine and complain, and their faces turn into little scowls.

They tell me it isn’t fair.

Apparently, NO ONE ELSE has parents like this!!!

‘Mom, you are actually THE WORST.’

And sometimes it hurts my heart.

I want to say yes. I do!! I long to see an excited smile or hear a ‘You’re THE BEST, Mom!!’

But really, I’m just doing MY BEST…

To be a GOOD mom.

And that means sometimes I say NO… though my heart longs to say YES.”

Young boy wearing a green shirt holds up a dollar bill while smiling
Courtesy of Mikala Albertson

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Mikala Albertson of Ordinary on Purpose. You can follow her on Facebook and Instagram. Join the Love What Matters family and subscribe to our newsletter.

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