Right after I had my first son, a co-worker who had a son a year older than mine gave me the best piece of child rearing advice I’ve ever been given.
We were comparing notes one day and she was telling me what to expect over the first few months. After several minutes, I told her that I was not looking forward to “baby-proofing” my house. I really didn’t want to move all the books and breakables that I had on the bottom shelves- there was really a lot of stuff that had to be moved. That’s when she stopped me.
“Don’t move anything. When he is a year old he will also be learning language and one of the first words he needs to learn to hear and interpret is ‘no.’ Don’t move those books, teach him what ‘no’ means. If they do not understand the meaning of this word when they are very young, they will never appreciate it when they are older. If you don’t teach this, what are you going to say to your 10 year old son who wants to run out into the street? What are you going to say to your 16 year old son when he gets his driver’s license and wants to stay out late? You’ll have time to bargain over curfew time later, but when he is young, he needs to understand ‘no.’”
I’m not going to say that my children are the best behaved kids to ever walk the planet, they are not. But when I speak, they listen. And when they try to disobey, they know there is a penalty coming soon. My sons never threw a fit in the grocery store aisle, they never stayed out later than they should have, and they never went somewhere they weren’t supposed to be. They were well acquainted with the word ‘no.’ I’m convinced that this one little gem of advice saved me from a multitude of potential problems.
I watched another mom say ‘no’ to her son today. Toya Gray, a Baltimore mama, was watching the news on TV when she saw a group of vandals and looters on the screen. One of them appeared to be her teenage son, so mama decided to investigate. She knew the neighborhood the TV cameras were showing and headed there. I can only imagine it was much to her chagrin that she found her teenage son stupidly going along with the crowd of vandals.
But mama was having none of that. She called her son out, smacked him on the head and told him to go home!*
This makes me wonder, what kind of relationship does this mama have with her son? I imagine she was probably embarrassed by her son’s behavior.
The average teen is going to follow the crowd. The average teen is going to be led around blindly and do what they see everyone else doing – no matter what. This teen isn’t the average teen, though. When this teen saw his mother and was reprimanded by her, he went home immediately. He must have an incredible amount of respect for his mother. He must have been taught at some point that he’d better obey his mother. He must have been taught what ‘no’ means.
Thousands of people have been wreaking havoc in Baltimore while police and other authorities have little recourse in making them stop. As of this writing, police have begun to use gas and rubber bullets to disperse crowds.
I wonder how many of these protestors were taught the word ‘no?’
*Just so you know, I do not condone hitting a child in the head.