Home Home About Zen Mama Contact

Friday, April 27, 2012

The Power of “No”

“No.” There, I said it. “No.”

For some, this is a tough word to get out. Some have been taught that “no” is a negative. I disagree. It can absolutely be a positive when used properly. Never saying it is as dangerous as always saying it – perhaps more so. Being a doormat will never get you anywhere and can’t make you feel very good. It doesn’t have to be that way. All you have to do is learn one tiny, but powerful word – “No.”

No, I do not wish to hear your horrifying birth story.
No, I will not be vaccinating my child for everything under the sun.
No, you will not retract my son’s foreskin during a routine exam.
No, I do not wish to lie on my back during labor and delivery.
No, I do not want that monitor around me at all times.
No, I do not want Pitocin.
No, I will not give him formula or a pacifier.
No, I will not be mutilating my son’s perfect and healthy penis.
No, I am not scheduling a C-section.
No, I do not need an episiotomy.
No, I will not starve myself during labor.
No, I am not giving my son rice cereal.
No, I am not allowing my son to cry it out in order to get him on a sleep schedule.
No, he does not need iron supplements.
No, I do not need your free samples.
No, I am not fazed by your laughter at me because I refuse to spank or scream.
No, I am not going to wean him.
No, he does not need a bed of his own.
No, I will not cover up while breastfeeding.
No, I will not move to a “more suitable” location while breastfeeding.
No, I do not think attachment parenting will sully him for the real world.
No, I do not worry that he will not receive a full education if not in a classroom.
No, he will not be a hermit if he doesn’t go to school.
No, I will not turn his car seat around based on minimum requirements.
No, my pregnancy is not a disease.
No, I need not deliver my baby in a hospital.
No, we do not have to teach him about separation and the cold hard reality of life early on.
No, I will not feed him food from a jar.
No, I do not wish to put a chemical-filled diaper next to his most delicate skin.
No, I do not want or need your advice.

No, no, no.

I find myself saying this over and over again. And you know what? That’s OK. It’s good. It’s important. I refuse to be steamrolled by authority figures, friends, family, or strangers. I refuse to be made to feel vulnerable, powerless, and weak by someone in a lab coat and latex gloves or anyone else who is not in my position. I am not an ignoramus. I am well-informed, well-educated, well-researched and I have power over my own body and the decisions that I make for the health and well-being of my son. And no (yep, there it is again), my decisions do not often mesh with those of the mainstream population. And no (it just gets easier and easier with practice), I don’t much care.

Note that you’ll find no justifications for the statements above. That is because you needn’t make any. You don’t owe anyone an explanation as to why you’re not following their program. Of course, you’re free to offer one, but know that if you do, you open yourself up to an even longer and potentially more frustrating conversation. Is it really worth it?

And just to be clear, it is important to understand that there is a vast difference between aggressive an assertive. You can still be “zen” and assertive. You don’t have to be bitchy about your nay-saying. You don’t have to yell it, scream it, get violent about it. You just have to say it, when appropriate, and as often and firmly as needed to get it through to the intended recipient. You make and maintain eye contact, plant yourself firmly, speak in a clear voice, say “no” and mean it. Repeat as necessary.

Make no mistake, you’re going to piss people off. You’re going to ruffle feathers. You might even lose friends. So? Does any of that really matter in the big picture here? When it comes between doing those things and protecting yourself and your family, is there really any contest?


  1. My favourite quote by Dr. Wayne Dyer is: "Don't explain, don't complain!"

  2. Amen, Zen! It is so simple and so very overwhelming as we learn to say it. As usual, you did it very well.