“Because Mommy Said No”

I am sure that there are many of you reading this that have faced situations where your children ask for something that you don’t let them have, like junk food, not so junky but still not good for you food, a television show or a movie simply not suited for their age level, etc. And the first response from a spouse or relative’s mouth is “Mommy(or Daddy) said no.”

This is a phrase I hear often, especially since I raise my children a lot differently than people around me are used to.

I get why this is the first response – people like to please my children; they like to see them smile AND they like to be the ones to make them smile. I get it. I also get that this is the easiest answer to give and that it is a true statement. However, there is SO much more to it than that. The phrase “because mommy said no” makes mommy out to be the bad guy, when really, she makes decisions for her children out of love.

I also get that people have different ideas about what is okay for a child to have; that a little sugar never hurt anyone, that food dyes don’t really effect children’s brains and behavior (yes they do!!!), that they themselves grew up eating Doritos, jelly made more with sugar and corn syrup rather than fruit, and soda, so these items must be okay. However, most times the amount of crap per serving, including sugar amount, is a lot higher than people realize AND the people wanting to give these foods have no clue about what else the child has consumed that day. In addition, people wanting to feed these foods to my children obviously have different thoughts on the subject, which is fine for them, but not for my kids.

After all, mommy (or daddy) is the one who knows exactly how her children respond to certain things. It’s mommy who is there to calm the kids when their little bodies can’t handle the sugar/chemical overload; it’s mommy who is the one to wake in the middle of the night to ease fears from a nightmare from something they saw during the day. It’s mommy that has to teach that though ‘Aunt Betsy’ says something is okay to do at her house, that it’s not socially acceptable to do elsewhere.

I would like to explore alternatives to this phrase, as I personally find it disrespectful to make mommy out to be a bad guy when she makes decisions for her children out of love. I realize people don’t necessarily mean it that way, but that is how it is perceived – not just by the parent, but by the children as well. SO, what are some alternative phrases or ways to turn this around and make it positive? If you are a parent, perhaps you can work these suggestions into a conversation. If you are a family member who often finds themselves having to say no when you don’t want to, perhaps one or more of these will work for you…

1. Don’t put yourself in the position to have to say no if it’s not something you like to do. If you have things around that you know the kids aren’t allowed to have, put them out of the children’s sight.

2. Turn it into a positive – “you can’t have __________, but you can have ___________.” It’s not always possible to keep a child from seeing something mom doesn’t want them having. Here’s a for instance: You are at a park and the ice cream man shows up. (My children are allowed to have certain brands of ice cream or frozen yogurt every once in a while, but I draw the line with the ice cream man – I believe everything sold from these trucks have at least one, if not all of the artificial food dyes, TBHQ, high fructose corn syrup, etc.) Johnny wants the ice cream from the truck as the other kids have – instead of saying, “mommy said you’re not allowed to eat that,” how about “that stuff isn’t good for you. How about we call mommy before we leave the park and ask her if there is a different ice cream that we can get for you instead?”

3. If it’s not a situation that you can avoid or turn around, explain the truth as best as the child can understand it. “These have a lot of sugar in it and sugar is not good for people because it makes them sick,” or “you are not old enough for that show; you have to be six.”

4. Be okay with the fact that the child may cry or have a tantrum of sorts – especially if they are toddlers – it’s normal and part of a learning process for them :).

Before ending this post I would like to say thank you to my family members and friends who have tried and continue to try to respect my decisions in the way that I raise my children. For the most part people have been able to come to an understanding about my beliefs and try hard to be respectful even when it hasn’t been their way of thinking. Thank you.

About Raising Natural Kids

A mother of two looking to raise awareness about the everyday issues that parents face, focusing on raising children holistically.
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7 Responses to “Because Mommy Said No”

  1. My parents are really good at NOT using the “Mommy said so” line but my husband and in-laws are awful when it comes to that. It gets my blood boiling too!

    I have not been able to figure out a solution to this. I am really grateful that you wrote this post because I can only see the “Mommy said so” line becoming more and more engrained in my husband. If I can’t help him to understand why it is so detrimental, then at least I have some really great suggestions as to how to help my daughter understand where I am coming from. I like the negative into a positive idea a lot! Offering an alternative certainly helps alleviate the tension from being denied something.

    Thanks for the wonderful post and for participating in our first Carnival!

    • Thanks for having me! I began writing this as more of a rant a couple of months ago – I needed time to pass to tone it down and write more rationally about it – when I saw your call for the carnival submissions it was perfect timing!

  2. latomate74 says:

    Another great escape is not having relatives in the country ;-)

    But having said that, I agree with your post; as soon as my DD could request things, I have always explained “Mummy loves you and doesn’t want _________ to happen”, be it a broken limb from doing back flips on the sofa, inappropriate or disspectful behaviour such as spitting, a sugar rush/crash after too much halloween candies, etc., and I follow it up with an alternative or 2 choices. “I’d rather you didn’t eat that candy as it’ll give you a sore tummy, how about a smoothie or raisins instead?”. She’s learned this and will now say with a sigh “you love me, I know” when I ask her not to do something ;-) so, as long as she knows I make decisions out of love, I hope she’ll grow to make the right choices for herself as she grows.

  3. I really enjoyed this post. It was a perspective I hadn’t really thought of before. I have a parental relationship in my life that tends to be (trying to be gentle here)… overbearing. This particular person used to undermine me all of the time when I was a new mother (sometimes unintionally and sometimes on purpose but without ill intent) and I found myself in a position with her that I never found myself in with anyone else. I found myself needing to say to HER (not to my child, because he isn’t even two yet) “Because I am the mom and because I said so!” Because she is so overbearing and meddlesome, she had to really be taught that she had her shot at parenting and that this was my shot. I would be making the crucial decisions regarding my son. I feel like we struck a really good, respectful balance, and she learned to ask me before making decisions or before granting permissions that I may not want granted. Now when I hear her say “Your mama said ‘no'”, I feel a bit proud, because it’s her way of acknowledging that I am responsible for my son and that (gasp!) she is not. I like hearing her say it because I know it means that she is grasping a concept that had been previously lost on her.

    I think that if I have ever used this phrase, it was my way of acknowledging another woman as mother. You know, a way to reinforce what decisions a mama has made, a way to reinforce that she is the one who is responsible for the little one. But, like you said, it really does send a few messages that aren’t very positive, and I had never thought of it that way. I will be much more mindful of the words I use and of how they could be perceived by a mama, and by a little one.

  4. But I do want to say that, like Jennifer, it drives me BONKERS when my husband says it. He and I are supposed to be unified. I feel that when HE says it, it divides us, and makes OUR decisions seem like MY decisions, as well as creating a good cop/bad cop atmosphere. I will be definitely be having him read this post.

  5. Melissa Vose says:

    Ah yes! The phrase “mommy said no” can be pretty huge! I think the delivery and intent is important though~my MIL says this phrase but in a very supportive way, and I never mind it coming from her. She says it as a reminder, and as a way to show that she respects my parenting choices. But veiled as a way to blame mommy AND disagree with her? Not cool.

  6. Wolfmother says:

    Very interesting subject! I think that I have to use this phrase directed at my husband more than anything, as he is not as adamant about healthy food choices as I am (and yet he is the fitness nut, go figure!) and offers things that really affect our son negatively. I have to often be the ‘bad guy’ and insist that he stop offering certain things to our son who thinks that his Dad is AWESOME of course for doing so, but I am the one having to deal with the aftermath. Good grief!

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