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  • Posted November 19, 2018

It’s OK to Say No

I don’t celebrate holidays, haven’t since my wife died (and if I’m being honest with myself didn’t really when she was alive either). There are many reasons, the biggest of which is my belief they do nothing more than perpetuate shameless consumerism. Now that we’ve established I’m the biggest wet blanket for every occasion, I want to give everyone else permission to say “no”.

I’ll hear people say they don’t want to do something but are going to because they feel “obligated”. I don’t think this is “fair” to anybody, because in my experience all too often the individual(s) who say things like this may be there in body, but are most certainly not “present”. I’ve admitted I’m jaded, and maybe I’m missing a bigger picture – but personally I don’t want to be around someone who doesn’t “really” want to be with me.

I’ve started giving my son permission to say where he does, and doesn’t want to go as well; because although I am his legal guardian he is still a 19 y/o man and should be allowed to make as many choices as possible (barring negative impacts on his health or well-being). Yes, we are our children’s parents; and in theory we know what’s best for them. But if they did not have the challenges they have would you honestly still be telling them what to do?

Let them tell you “no”, but teach them how to be respectful about it. Perhaps more importantly, educate them around when they actually have an option. Maybe I’m too idealistic, but I want my son to have as independent a life as he can; and part of his independence is allowing him to disagree with me. I’m working to help him communicate his thoughts and develop reasons; but I’m doing the best I can not to push back when he tells me he doesn’t want to do something.

I would challenge my fellow parents to act similarly, despite how difficult it will likely be. Yes, our children have disabilities; and, like my son’s, they may have manifested themselves in a lower IQ and reduced comprehension. But they are still people, and they should have a voice. I think we all (myself included) could do a better job allowing our children to find that voice and build their self-confidence; and it HAS to include the word “No”.