When our oldest daughter was a teenager, she came home from school one afternoon, hopped out of the car, and ran into the house, considerably excited, while her friends waited expectantly in the car. She rushed up to me and said, "Daddy, can I go to (such and such a place) with my friends?"
I responded, "No, Doll, you cannot."
She was somewhat stunned and said, "Why not?"
I responded, "Because I happen to know those kids are the wrong crowd, and they are headed to the wrong place."
She gave the typical teenager response, "Everybody else is doing it!"
I said to her, "Now, Doll, you know that has no bearing on whether you can do it or not."
Again she said, "Well, why can't I go?"
And again I responded, "It's the wrong place with the wrong crowd."
She persisted, and I patiently said to her, "Sweetheart, let me tell you something. Those kids waiting out in the car for you say they're your friends. Tomorrow or next week they might not be speaking to you. I just want you to know that there is never going to be anything that you can do, regardless of what it is, that will keep me or your mother from loving you."
I went on to explain that I loved her too much to permit her to jeopardize her reputation or possibly even her life. She stood, lips quivering, for a moment, then literally jumped forward, grabbed me, gave me a big hug and kiss, and said, "Thank you, Daddy! I really didn't want to go anyhow."
I have no idea what she told her friends, but the important thing is that she was able to blame me and save face with the kids in the car.
My wife, the Redhead, and I have had the experience of different ones of our children saying loudly on the phone, "Let me ask my parents," and then as they held the phone high in the air to catch our response they signaled us wildly to say no to their request. We have no idea how many times they wanted us to say no because they didn't want to be put in bad circumstances or how many times they just didn't want to do what was being asked. But we do know that sometimes children need help in saying no.
When you give directives to a child, especially a teenager, you must consider the nature of your child. All four of our children responded differently to the word no.
I'm convinced that what kids need today are parents – not buddies. They need someone who will exercise mature judgment. Kids instinctively know – although they will argue to the contrary – that they really are not mature enough to make good decisions on some important issues. Like I say – they don't want a buddy at home. They want a mom and dad who love them enough to say no when no really is the best answer for the child. Yes, when the motive is love, even if the child doesn't fully understand, your decision will eventually be accepted.
Message: Be there for your kids. Later, when you need them, they'll be there for you.
Zig Ziglar is known as America's Motivator. He is best known for his inspirational messages of hope through his 28 books and numerous audio and video recordings. To be inspired visit his website at http://www.ziglar.com