No means no. No has always meant no. But, for whatever reason, we allow ourselves to be persuaded, to be accommodating, to compromise our boundaries. I have spent hours (literally days) in therapy and boundaries are huge. One needs to set boundaries and maintain those boundaries. Once boundaries are crossed, wheels are set into motion that shouldn’t have even been moved.
Hannah: Please mommy, please I want to go outside.
Me: No, Hannah. For the 8th time (honestly, it was), we are not going outside, we do not have your snow gear and we’re staying inside. Period. No more asking.
3rd party: Hannah, would you like to go outside?
That situation showed Hannah that what Mommy has to say doesn’t matter. The 3rd party in that situation usurped me as a parent, undermined me as a parent, crossed a boundary that I had set for my child. My child saw and heard me be treated as less than a parent.
Me: No, I don’t want my children to walk down the icy hill.
3rd party: (physically taking Hannah’s hand), Let’s go Hannah, “be brave!”
Me: No. (physically taking Hannah’s hand) No, Hannah. It’s too icy, hold my hand.
3rd party: Took one step and fell down hard on the ice.
That situation also showed Hannah that what Mommy has to say doesn’t matter. And physically crossed the boundary by taking her hand after I had said NO. Also, implying that I’m not brave. That by choosing to not walk on the ice, I was in fact the opposite. I was cowardly.
Me: Do not cut Eliza’s hair.
3rd party: I know you said not to, but we cut Eliza’s hair.
Me: Complete and utter meltdown. I couldn’t even speak for hours, I was so upset. I had specifically said in 5 words, crystal clear, “Do not cut Eliza’s hair”.
That situation is by far the most undermined I have ever felt as a parent. My baby girl had her first haircut by someone I didn’t know. Someone I didn’t trust. Someone who had no regard for her precious little baby curls and threw them all away. Eliza’s hair went from long and flow-y to short blunt bangs, short blunt sides and a chopped off backside. No more long, almost 3 year old baby curl she has had her whole life. That is in some barbershop’s trash can. But that isn’t the worst of it. Hair will grow back. I will grow out the bangs she was given against my wishes. I will grow out the sides that were cut against my wishes. It is just hair; it will grow.
What will not grow back is the boundary that I had set. One rule. One boundary. Please do not cross it. Eliza will never know how atrocious her hair cut is. She has only heard and seen me be supportive of it. I am taking her in to *my* barber tomorrow. The barber I trust, the barber I know. She can fix Eliza’s hair. She cannot fix the broken boundary though.
Boundaries. We are supposed to learn about them as children, and then throughout life learn how to set appropriate ones for ourselves, and subsequently our children. I never realized how hard it was going to be to maintain these boundaries. I never realized I would be fighting a constant battle to keep my position as parent. But the fact remains; I am the parent. I set the boundary. You are not; you respect the boundary. And if you choose to disrespect the boundary; know that you are sending a message that screams undermining…insolence… and I am left feeling less than. But, I am not. I am not less than.
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