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Why we need to teach our daughters to say “no”

Imagine waking up every morning and rushing off to take the kids to school and then being late for work. You walk in late for the meeting one morning, and later during your break your colleague needs someone to talk to about personal issues. And you don’t want to show a lack of empathy, but you also realize that you are running over time and need to get back to work. Before you know it, it’s time to go home, well, to pick up the kids in your case and you’re running late but then your boss decides to hand over some tasks to you because you’re so ”reliable” he says….

And you reluctantly accept them because you just don’t know how to say ”no” to him. You get home and you have a mountain of errands to run, including sewing something for your kid’s drama costume and you stil have to meet your boss’ dead line. But then your mum arrives unannounced and tells you how lonely she has been since your dad passed away. And you listen to her because again you don’t want to seem like an uncaring daughter. By bedtime, you are overwhelmed and exhausted and still haven’t accomplished all the things that you set out to do for the day. You’ve tried really hard to be a nice and compassionate person, but trying harder doesn’t seem to have worked in your favor, and being nice has not given you any peace or joy.

Eventually, you struggle to take control over your daily tasks, you get sick from the stress and you start to think that survival mode is just how it’s meant to be. That this is what living a life without boundaries means.

Strangely enough, we learn how to set boundaries as children, depending on how we are raised. In many cultures, respecting women’s boundaries isn’t really a thing. In some cultures, if a little girl doesn’t want to greet or hug or kiss a relative, she is seen as being “unfriendly” or ”stuck-up”. While a girl who is very friendly and smiley might sometimes be labelled an “attention-seeker”.  The message society sends girls is that they aren’t good enough as they are, that they have to try harder to please the people around them, to earn their “love”.

Be it bosses, co-workers, relatives or spouses, women are caught in a cycle of subtle manipulation. As a result, many young women cannot determine between a healthy loving relationship based on unconditional loveand a relationship based on insecurities and manipulative behaviour. Women with unhealthy boundary patterns tend to say “yes” to things that ultimately harm them and ”no” to things that are good for them.

Why we need to set boundaries?

We need to set boundaries to protect ourselves, to teach our daughters that it is okay to say ”no” and that they will still be loved if they disagree with those they love. And if they lose friends because they said “no” to their demands, then maybe those weren’t good friends to begin with. They need to learn to love out of freedom, not guilt.

We need to break the cycle that women have to be ”people pleasers”, and insist that conforming to social norms is not always the right way forward, and confrontation isn’t always a bad thing. By saying “no”, we learn to be strong and to believe in ourselves, we learn to not be afraid about being set apart from the crowd, especially when sense something isn’t quite right, like when a family member is abusive perhaps…

Setting boundaries is definitely hard, especially when you feel responsible towards the people around you. But the fact is that if you are not fulfilled or living to your full potential, then it could be a sign that you have to set boundaries to free yourself from burdens that are not actually yours. Ultimately, we are responsible for our own happiness, not the happiness of others, The sooner we teach our daughters to say ”no” to good things, the sooner we are teaching them to say “yes” to greater things and showing them how to be in control of their life, purpose and destiny.

Author: Sarona Wolter (act)



17.07.2018 | 14:02