Protecting My Daughter’s Right to Say No

girl holding heart
Photo credit: See My Side Photography

My daughter is about to turn seven, and I’ve noticed a shift. I used to curate her social schedule — penciling in play dates, camps, and other things to fill that aspect of her life.  These plans used to be met with excitement, but now are met with resentment.
“You didn’t ask me first.”

So I’ve started asking her first. Someone invites her to do something, my reflex is to accept on her behalf. I’ve had to curb that and say that I will get back with them about said plans. I’ve turned into her secretary in a way, which is OK because it’s her life, not mine.

this new role has caused some discomfort for me.

For us, this has looked like her saying no to a birthday party invitation because she simply didn’t want to go. There’s no drama involved; she just would prefer to do something else with her time that particular day. It has looked like her trying a camp that I thought she would love, but turns out a full day camp of dinosaur art is not her jam. A half day studying dinos — not creating them — would have been her preference. But I didn’t ask, did I?

Being the go between her and her social life puts me in situations where she says no thank you to something, and someone gets upset. I’m left in the awkward middle of protecting my daughter’s feelings while trying to maintain positive relationships.

Through these experiences, I’m continually reminded of one of Glennon Doyle’s quotes. In her book Untamed, she writes, “every time you’re given a choice between disappointing someone else and disappointing yourself, your duty is to disappoint that someone else. Your job throughout your entire life, is to disappoint as many people as it takes to avoid disappointing yourself.”

This is a quote every girl and woman needs enlarged on a canvas. It’s so simple, yet it’s something we as women lose sight of or have had conditioned out of us. I’m not sure how or when it happens, but we become slaves to appeasing others. We take the path of least resistance at times while denying what we really want. I’ve always viewed this as selfish, but I am learning to see it as a form of self care and authenticity.

I feel like I am learning from her, as she effortlessly makes choices that she feels are in her best interest — not someone else’s. I see this gift of discernment in my daughter and feel charged with protecting it, cultivating it, and practicing it myself.

Megan Coffey
Hi! I'm Megan, former teacher turned stay-at-home-but-never-home mom to Peyton, 7, and Gage, 4. I host the Kansas City MomCast podcast! I'm married to the most patient person on this earth, Chris, and we live in Overland Park with our kids, an insane lab, and two guinea pigs. You can find me over committing to everything, reading informational and self-help texts, listening to podcasts, organizing, spending time with friends over margaritas, thrifting, and staying up way too late to have peace and serenity. I love people and hearing their stories and look forward to connecting with KCMC readers!