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Tales from the Motherhood: Peer pressure is not just a kid thing

Sometimes I am that mom. You know, the one who says, “No.” The one who upsets the balance and kills the joy for everyone else involved in the proposed plan. It’s no fun being that mom, but sometimes, such is a mom’s life.

Being the mom who says “yes,” on the other hand, is so much more fun.

“Yes! Yes! Yes!”

Yes, that does feel good. But sometimes parenting gets in the way. What a drag.

It’s especially draggy when yours appears to be the only “no” vote.

Parenting is hard enough. But I think we make it even harder for ourselves when we don’t simply trust our own guts and go with our initial instinct about how we should handle a situation. We make it harder on our fellow parents in the trenches, too, when we exert peer pressure and challenge each other’s parenting decisions.

For example, another mom recently pulled me aside at a social gathering to encourage me to reconsider my decision about my kid’s participation in something I’d already weighed in on days before.
Because, she said, a couple of the other kids had asked her to speak to me about it.

Really? Yes.

Awkward? You bet.

Did I change my mind? No.

Who’s in charge here?

I get it. I have no qualms with kids exploring limits. While it’s not always easy to deal with, I kind of expect that sort of lobbying from kids from time to time. It’s their job to explore the possibilities and discern what their parameters are.

Awesome! Ask for the moon, I say. Go for it. I can’t always say yes, I tell Noah and Holly, but hey, there’s a reason you’re still in my nest.

Because while being a cabbage-patch-kid is all the rage among adolescents (who are too young to get the reference – but still, I make it), sometimes, it helps to have a parent. (Um, yes, that’s a matter of opinion, but I digress.)

That said, I’m a huge fan of picking my battles. I say “yes” as often as I reasonably can.

Adolescence is prime time for learning independence, after all. But in certain situations, I just have to say “no,” for now. There will be lots and lots of time for yes, in the future.

I like the way my friend Hilde puts it when she’s faced with similar quandaries.

“Save some things for later,” she says to her teenagers. I love the diplomatic, warm “yes” that’s implied.

So, it’s not “no” forever, just no for now. Nice.

But I get it. It’s hard to hear “no.”

“His mom” or “her mom said yes,” I sometimes hear, from my children.

“But I’m not his (or her) mom. I’m your mom,” I say.

You know the drill.

Sometimes I make unpopular decisions. It’s a lonely thing, at times, but sometimes, such is a mom’s life.

• Jennifer DuBose lives in Batavia with her husband, Todd, and their two children, Noah and Holly. Contact her at

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