How to safely say “No”. The Family Value behind “No” and “Why”

family values

How to safely say "No".

The ratio must be 10 to 1.  For everyone 1 yes I gave to my daughter, there are 10 no’s.  And the older she gets, the frequent the no’s became.  Was it me, her timing or what she wanted to do that resulted in more no’s?  Daddy, can I do this?  No.  Daddy, can I do that? No.  However, it’s the aftermath of saying no that’s more of the issue.  How to safely say “no”. The family value behind No and Why

My daughter was good for always asking, Why, Why not, Why can’t I or even Why can’t we? Asking why isn’t the real issue, it’s asking it again, and again, and again. 

Until recent, I would engaged in her “why” boxing matches which could easily go 10 rounds.   Usually, ending with my daughter standing in the middle of the rink as reigning champion with another KO under her belt, until the hot tub match.

“Daddy can I go into the hot tub?”



“Because the chemicals aren’t balanced, plus it’s raining and you just got out of the shower.”

“Yeah but can I go in?”



“Because the chemicals aren’t balanced, plus it’s raining and you just got out of the shower.”

“Can I?”


“But why?”

Perhaps looking up and making eye contact with my daughter, ring name “the honey badger,” might make her accept my reason.  I looked up.  We made eye contact and I said slowly with a hard ending after each word, “Because the chemicals aren’t balanced, plus it’s raining and you just got out of the shower.”

She came back fierce, and with increased intonation and asked, “Why?”

The Family Value behind "No".

Not knowing when the bell would sound to end the round, I increased my intensity but this time I said, “what did I just say?”  This should have been an easy question.  I gave the reason three times.

“I don’t know!”

“Really! You don’t know!”  Like a child, I said, “well, I guess you’ll need to pay more attention to what I say next time.”

“I do pay attention, so can I?”

I looked away.  What can I say that will stop this back and forth?  Will she outwit me?  I looked up at her again.  She was just standing there looking at me all cool and calm in her recently donned bathing suit.  Yet, me on the other hand, is boiling inside.  What are kids made of?  Does she have a soul?  How does she do it?  What kind of career exists that would require this amount of perseverance as a strength?  The silence was broken.

“Well can I?”

board, school, immediately

What's Next?

“If you payed attention, like you said you did,” I said sarcastically, “then what did I say were the reasons.”  Of course, this strategy isn’t foolproof nor does it bring this conversation to an end.  In my head, I knew I had only prolonged the conversation.  Can I quickly make a run for it?  No, she will only chase me like the badger she is.  I didn’t move and waited for her reply.

“Because it’s raining?”

Of course she picks the least of the two reasons why she can’t go in the hot tub. “Yes!” I said.

“I don’t care if it’s raining.  I’m already going to be wet what’s the difference?”

If only it were lightening outside, the KO would have been all mine.  However, the match ended in a draw.  She stormed off.  Never in silence but rather with a declarative statement either with: I’m going to ask Mommy or I’m going to get something to eat! This time it was, I’m going to get something to eat.  Of course it was an hour before dinner.

“No!” as I scramble off the sofa to the top of the stairs. As you can imagine, this lead to more rounds. 

What was the purpose of this argument?  Was it about having the last word? Could it be that I’m the parent and you’re the child and you must listen to me? 

When in doubt, I think of a quote a friend of mine said, “They are just doing their job.” Yes, their job of being kids and providing parents with opportunities.

My frustration wasn’t about my daughter repeatedly asking me why.   She was just doing her job.  It was more about my own insecurities to be a good father.

And now the "Why"

In this case, it was more about teaching the value of safety.  A value that every father owns when it comes to their family.  Once I was able to name it, I was able to describe it to my daughter and connect why she couldn’t go into the hot tub.  While this may or may not get prevent my daughter from asking me “why” a million times, it did provide for a different and better kind of conversation, one that achieves my personal goal of instilling values rather than about a three letter word.

Later that day, I approached my daughter, and I asked her why she keep saying “why” when she clearly heard me the first time with supporting reasons.  “Can you answer that for Daddy?” She calmly looked up at me as said, “ask me later.” 

Her response stopped me dead in my tracks and at that instance, I had a moment of clarity.  She could have been able to go into the hot tub later when it was safe

While SAFETY was my family value in this article, add a comment what might have been your family value? Discuss it with your family and place it on your Family Values Roadmap worksheet, downloadable as a free PDF on my site for free when you sign up.

Share my story with a friend and ask them what would be their family value connection!


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1 thought on “How to safely say “No”. The Family Value behind “No” and “Why”.”

  1. I never knew about the 10 to 1 ratio before, but it sounds about right. I am not going to aim for this ratio with my grandchildren. Who says I am too old to learn something new?


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