Tags: Loving | Your | Children | Means | Saying

Loving Your Children Means Saying No

Wednesday, 04 May 2005 12:00 AM

So I've had to learn the hard way, for me and for them, that loving your children means saying no and sticking to it, that enough is enough just because it is and because I say so.

I find it excruciating sometimes. It is the hardest thing I do. If I weren't a mother, I joke, I'd be rich and young.

I am neither. I am the grown-up. NO is my new favorite word. I've leaned on other mothers, learning to say it.

My daughter and I are waiting at the doctor's office. She picks up a magazine with a picture of Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher on the cover. The mother's boyfriend is playing a part on TV of a boy who is almost the same age as her daughter.

My daughter and I both shake our heads. The daughter can't possibly compete with the mother. How can the mother set limits for the daughter? Maybe they go to the plastic surgeon together.

There is a rumor going around that a number of movie stars are now having plastic surgery done on their knees. Knees? My daughter tells me which girls in her school she thinks are anorexic and which are bulimic. My son tells me which girls in his sixth-grade class wear hundred-dollar jeans and push-up bras to school.

I don't wear hundred-dollar jeans, unless I find them at Loehmann's on a day when I have extra coupons. My daughter wears a uniform to school. I assign chores.

The girls dress just like their mothers. Why wouldn't they? If you don't want your daughter to wear slutwear, don't wear it yourself. The only thing that looks worse than a teenager dressed in slutwear is a middle-aged mother with her middle hanging out trying to look like her daughter's sister.

Can't we spare our daughters the lousy role models and our sons the confusion, even if retailers don't think we're ready to grow up?

It is also a question of values.

I remember saying that, some years ago, to two Hollywood mothers I knew, for whom budgets didn't set the same limit they do for everyone else in buying things for their kids. When you spend unlimited money on your daughters' socks – I told them pointedly, because my daughter had come home now wanting to wear for "every day" the $8 socks, or whatever it was, that we kept for "special" – it tells them that you think clothes are what really counts.

I used to use the same argument comparing the cost of their clothes or earrings to the donation I was hitting them up for, or ask them if they'd put all their jewelry in the hands of an illegal worker driving an uninsured 10-year-old van, the way they do their children every day, when they asked me why I paid my babysitter of 15 years so well and leased her a new car.

I was older when I became a mother, so some things were easier for me. I didn't want to be the kid anymore, but I didn't quite know how to be a good mother.

Along the way, I've been learning how to mother myself and my own children. There are a lot of myths about how much fun it is that aren't true. When they're little, they love you back. When you're working hardest, though, you're saying no, which doesn't get you a lot of thank-you's.

I watch other mothers, the way they brush it off, and try to learn what I didn't growing up. It is never too late. Happy Mother's Day to the other mothers, who teach me.

COPYRIGHT 2005 CREATORS SYNDICATE INC.

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So I've had to learn the hard way, for me and for them, that loving your children means saying no and sticking to it, that enough is enough just because it is and because I say so. I find it excruciating sometimes. It is the hardest thing I do. If I weren't a mother, I...
Loving,Your,Children,Means,Saying
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2005-00-04
Wednesday, 04 May 2005 12:00 AM
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