What I honour in my child, I honour in myself

The more I honour, respect and celebrate my child’s ‘no’s the more I find space and confidence to honour my own ‘no’s.

Each time my daughter says ‘no’, I feel really happy. I am proud of her for knowing what she wants and expressing it so clearly and assertively. Of course that doesn’t mean she always gets what she wants (or doesn’t get what she doesn’t want). Very often I ‘honour’ her ‘no’ by listening to it, validating it (telling her I hear her and understand she doesn’t want what I am proposing, say a diaper change) and then go on to say that this is one of those times when mommy has to go ahead and do it anyway. It happens. But it is rare.


Most of the time, say if I ask for a hug and she says ‘no’ I look closely and find that she was already engaged in something and chances are I was ‘rude’ for interrupting with my sudden (selfish) need to express my bubble of love for her – with no respect or sensitivity to what she was doing. Afterall, my love will still be here in 10 minutes. Or if I say ‘do you want to go to the park?’ and she says ‘noooooo’, I wait. I know that in most cases (especially with something as tantalising as going to the playground) she doesn’t mean ‘no’, she means ‘not now… just let me finish what I am doing here, please, mom’ (but she doesn’t yet have the vocab, let alone the inter-personal awareness to express it this way). In a couple of minutes when she has finished the important business of putting all her toys in the laundry basket, I know she’ll tootle over to me and say ‘PAAAK’. She just needed a minute. I would extend the same courtesy (of listening and letting somebody finish what they were invested in) were it, say, my partner, so why not to my toddler just because she can’t say full sentences, yet. She can express herself very well, already.

As it is, I meet most of my daughters ‘no’s with a ‘yes’ (‘okay, we don’t need to do that, right now’). That seems to really help her trust that I am listening, that I care about what is important to her, that I will respect her wishes whenever possible. I also reckon the fact that 80 or 90% of the times Anya says ‘no’ our response is to smile (because it is so darn cute, apart from anything else), helps her feel empowered.

After all, imagine if every time you said you didn’t want something (sauce on your steak, to watch a re-run of ‘gone in 60 seconds’ with your husband…) not only were you forced to do it, but you were actually frowned upon if not outright punished for daring not to want something. What effect would that have? Would it not make you feel even more angry, hostile and disconnect from the one not listening to your wants?? It would me.

So, I respect my daughter’s fledgling right to self-determination, whenever I can… and as I help her uphold her own boundaries, I slowly but deeply register the importance of these, of ‘outer limits’, in our lives. I am doing all this, at least in part, because I want her to grow up strong in her own self-knowledge, in her ability to tune into herself and know what feels right and what doesn’t – in the moment (not 10 minutes from now) and to express it in a positive way. Somewhere in this process of supporting my daughter’s own, natural connection to her true feelings I find my own atunment growing stronger, too. And, in our relationship, at least, I find that because I have made so many deposits in the bank of ‘it is okay to say no’ I can make withdrawls from it, with confidence, too. I can say ‘no, sorry, you can’t have another go. It is time to go home now’ or whatever, confidently, too. I trust that she will hear me. I trust that she will know I am not just doing this to yank her chain or to exercise power over her. In fact, me being me, (in this example) I will already have told her that was the last go on the slide and we were going home soon, framed it positively and with regards to what is interesting and exciting to her (rather than saying ‘we are going home’, saying ‘do you want to open the gate’ – a big draw at this age)… I don’t just drop a ‘no’ on her, from out of nowhere. It is padded, usually. Padded with love, empathy and sensitivity for her needs, as well as a growing awareness of my own.

The interesting thing, then, is that as I help my daughter value her natural assertiveness, I notice my own finding more appreciation in me, too. All this gentle parenting stuff that I feared would make me weaker, a walk-over (as so many detractors warn us) instead is making me stronger, more in touch with my own feelings and able to express them. What I honour in my daughter I honour in me.


9 thoughts on “What I honour in my child, I honour in myself

  1. This post really hit home for me since my son recently discovered the power of “no!” and I am trying my best to respect his boundaries too and give him the respect I would want for myself. But man, is it HARD! On some things like diaper changes are definitely a must, however I will let him run around naked for a little while to show him that his desires are valid too. Eventually the diaper needs to come on though. I’ve been trying to give him more warnings to activities to not shock him into transitions so much but sometimes I forget and wonder why he’s telling me “NO!” while shaking his head vehemently. At least he’s get his point across I suppose.

    • I hear ya: when to push and when to yield? I have written a couple of posts on this topic already and am planning another one (‘cos it is a ‘theme’ I am working, myself). Watch this space and… WELCOME!! I look forward to following your stuff too. Love your blog’s name!

  2. Pingback: Honour your father and mother that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you. Exodus 20:12 | bummyla

  3. Pingback: Ask me ‘why’ one more time, kid – make my day! « Loving Earth Mama

  4. I have been looking for a good book or article on positive/gentle discipline. I have seen good things regarding “how to talk so your kids will listen”, however my little one is just 1 year. From what I’ve read, this book is for older children. Do you agree? Any other suggestions?

    • Hi Andrea,

      I love that book as well as the other famous book by those authors, ‘Siblings without Rivalry’. I think they do cultivate an attitude of respect and empathy for your child and helps us remember to see them as full people, always, as well as giving simple, practical techniques to apply – but yes, they are aimed at slightly older, more verbal kids.

      There are many great books on positive/gentle parenting out there. I particularly resonate with the ones that come from a ‘Connection Parenting’ view point (and shun what I see as outdated control behaviours such as bribing, punishing, spanking, time-outs, etc.). I am in many ways still a beginner at this, yet books I love that have helped me turn to gentle parenting, include:

      – ‘Unconditional Parenting’ by Alfie Kohn
      – ‘Connection Parenting’ by Pam Leo
      – ‘Playful Parenting’ by Lawrence Cohen

      I haven’t read, because I stumbled on them past the baby phase but have read a lot around (eg by other authors about them or other articles by these authors):

      – ‘Aware Baby’ by Aletha Solter
      – ‘Your Self-Confident Baby’ by Magda Gerber

      I love the philosophies of both these authors and would say I follow them, even without having read these exact books. Aletha Solter’s website has a ton of her writing: http://www.awareparenting.com/articles.htm. I also did attend a RIE class in my area and I TOTALLY recommend it, if there is one near you. RIE (Resources by Infant Educators) is the approach founded by Magda Gerber. That is how I got into it, personally. There is also a great website (and facebook page) that goes more into RIE which is by Janet Landsbury: http://www.janetlansbury.com/. These two last ones are perfect for the baby age. Some of it may seemingly clash a little with some Attachment Parenting philosophies (like breastfeeding on demand, full-term) but you find your own way through it as a parent, as a family. Personally, I am all for letting my children express their emotions fully AND I believe in following my child’s cue in terms of how much/how often/until what age she wants the comfort and nutritional boost of breastfeeding… but as I say, you find your own balance.

      I also follow and LOVE https://www.facebook.com/TheWayOfThePeacefulParent on facebook. You can post questions on there and the community is just so supportive, informed and giving. It is a total touch-stone for me. You can also join the https://www.facebook.com/pages/Loving-Earth-Mama/208544985825038?ref=tn_tnmn, of course, if you haven’t already. Another fantastic, positive, supportive community of wise-mamas (and some papas, grandparents, etc).

      Sometimes, I like browsing through Naomi Aldort (author of ‘Raising Our Children, Raising Ourselves’)’s page for inspiration: http://aldort.com/answers.html. I don’t agree with everything she says, but a lot of it sings to my soul :)

      I also love, love, love the philosophy of Hand in Hand Parenting, founded by Patty Wipfler. They have both a website with great information http://www.handinhandparenting.org/ and a blog with incredible stories of success with this approach http://superprotectivefactor.com/. Again, you have to work with it in a way that makes sense for your family, but this way of looking at and understanding children’s strong emotions has really resonated for me. Plus, it is underpinned by an understanding of the deep importance of cultivating an on-going relationship that is close and connected, thus preventing many of the potential melt-downs and ‘testing’ from even arising. Patty Wipfler’s insight is gold.

      Here’s a great reading list, if you are still hungry for more: http://www.peaceful-parent.com/products.php, it is by Genevieve, of the Way of the Peaceful Parent (above).

      And, if you haven’t already, check out some of my own peaceful parenting posts, such as:

      Hope this helps, do come back and touch base if you want. Good luck and blessings on your beautiful journey of discovery and connection,

      • Thank you so much! You have given me many options. I think I’m going to start with “Aware Baby” but am a bit worried that it will go against how I’ve been raising my baby, as I am still nursing my one yr old. I guess most times there are parts you have to ignore.
        Thanks again! Oh, and am getting ready to join your Facebook page!

      • I am still nursing my 2.5 year old AND I still love that philosophy. They are not incompatible, you just have to weave them together in your own special way :)

        And, yay, come join the fun on facebook!! :D

  5. What a beauty! She has goergous lips! I can’t believe you caught that smile. I always hope for a moment like that, but it’s so rare. By the way, mom looks great. You would never know she has 3 little ones so young; she looks so well-rested.

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