Parenting Tip #1: Never Say Never

When you are a parent, as soon as you utter, “My child will never…” you will soon find your child doing that exact thing.

Mom and child pulling on her hair

Okay. You’ve done it. You’ve watched someone with her child and thought, “Gasp! My child will never behave that way!”

You’ve done that more than once, right?

And how many times have you found your child doing that exact thing sometime down the road?

Never say never.

Side bar–do you remember that show, An American Tail? I loved that show. “Never say never, whatever you do.”

Okay, back to the point. In The Parenting Breakthrough (which I still maintain as one of my all-time favorite parenting books), Merrilee Boyack lists some of her parenting tips.

Number one is Never Say Never.

“I can almost promise you that the minute you get that word past your lips, you will have set in motion a chain of events guaranteeing that you will face that situation”.

(page 2)

Call it Karma, call it your pride getting in the way, whatever, but the idea that your child will never XYZ is something to avoid.

Children have minds of their own. So despite you deciding what your child will or will not do, it isn’t really up to you in the end. It is up to the child. 

Now, I am not saying “don’t have goals for your children” or “don’t hope and instruct your children not to do certain things.”

You know what I hope? Lots of things. I hope my children never use recreational drugs. I hope they are kind. I hope they never stray. I hope they develop a strong faith in Christ…

Can I guarantee these things? Unfortunately no.

I can do my best to ensure it. I can put forth every effort. But I cannot say with confidence “They will never…” That is their choice to make, and hopefully when they come to that choice, I will have done all that I could to help them choose that right path.

And you know, thus far, I can actually think of things I have thought, “my kids will never” where I have been able to stick to it. One example is reverence in church. When we were pregnant with Brayden, I was a careful observer of those around me at church. There were some children who were so well behaved and others who were…not. 

One in particular had his parents right where he wanted them. He got bored in Sacrament meeting or Sunday school–understandably. They aren’t exciting for a 18 month-2 year old. He would throw a little fit and get taken out to the hall.

The hall was a lot of fun! He got to chase balls (yes, you read that right), run around, eat food. These things were great fun for the 18 month-2 year old! I observed that other children his age and younger were able to be good in meetings (I later discovered upon inquiry these children were all Babywise babies).

I vowed right then and there that I would never take my children in the hall and have it be fun for them. The hall would not be a fun place. 

And we have stuck to that. Sure, having fun in the hall would be a lot easier. But if my kids are taken in the hall, they get to sit on the parent’s lap.

And that is all. No talking. No walking. No eating. No drinking. No thing. In the meetings, they can do quiet, appropriate activities. So while the meeting itself is no amusement park, it is far superior to the hall.

But generally speaking, watch yourself when you start to say, “I will never” or “my children will never…” A major problem with this line of thinking is that it is usually accompanied with a great amount of judgement on the other parent.

Boyack, in her always humorous way, says, “Frankly, I think the Lord starts to chuckle the minute we say, ‘I would never…’ and He sends us that very challenge” (page 3).

So make goals for yourself and your children, but don’t judge and condemn other parents in the process.

My Own Story

We were heading to a nearby farm for some fun in a corn maze and playing on straw forts and such. The whole fall thing.

The days were warm and Brayden had been wearing shorts. I told him to go change into some pants so he would be warm when the sun went down. I rushed around getting everything else ready, then we left.

As we were playing, I noticed something.

Brayden’s pants! Oh no!

You know when you see those kids whose pants are painfully, obviously, too short? Yes, I had said I would never take my child out into public like that.

And guess what. I did it.

The child had been growing like crazy lately and I couldn’t keep up with getting the small clothes out of his closet. So there he was, out in public, with pants that were too short. I shook my head and thought to myself, “Never say never.” Then I took a picture so I could remember the moment.

Here it is:

and that doesn’t do it proper justice, so here is another picture:

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Reader Comments

  • Amanda: This made me laugh because I have said the same thing! That’s one of my pet peeves, right up there with babies without pants. You wouldn’t believe how many people I see walking around with their kids (birth-3 years old sometimes) with no pants, socks, or shoes here, just a saggy disposable diaper, eww! lol! But yeah, we all have those moments. I know what you mean about trying to keep up with the outgrown clothes, it’s hard!
  • Redheads said: Ha!!!! That is too funny! My girl is very skinny and tiny, but she has long legs. So many times, the pants will fit around the waist, but not be long enough. So they are like capris! Which works for Florida! I am not sure what we are going to do in January…guess I will have to get her a belt and start sizing up!
  • The Wettstein Family said: I hate that! You have the kid all dressed with his shoes on and you’re running out the door, and just as you’re leaving, you realize you dressed your kid in floods!! It happens all too often at my house as I sometimes confuse my boys’ jeans since they are so close in sizes. You make me laugh!
  • Pwebbie said: Thanks for injecting some humor into my morning! It has been hard for me to keep up with my little one’s sizes too. So often she’s right between them, but I usually end up erring on the side of too large. Then she’s swimming in her clothes! Oh, well, can’t have perfection.
Never say never as a parent

3 thoughts on “Parenting Tip #1: Never Say Never”

  1. You make me laugh, it's reality. I used to be very patience with my girls, and don't like other mothers who just begin to shout to their children…well last tuesday i shouted to my big girl and i just realized that we can't judge others because we can have a bad action as well. Thanks for this reflection, humility it's such an important thing to teach us and our children.

  2. Hi, this is so true. I thought it was just me, but when people would ask the well-known question "is he sleeping good for you yet?", we would be like "oh yeah!, of course!", and right there, either that same day or the next one, Elijah would decide not to sleep for a nap or there would be a middle of the night issue. I can't recall a single time when it didn't happened. I even got so freaked out about it that I stopped telling people about his schedule or BW (and I consider myslef not to be supersticious, lol!) Now you made me realize that it was a humility problem, and I think it certainly was/is. I guess sometimes we felt that we worked so hard getting him on schedule that we forgot that is was God that was guiding all the way, and he is the one giving us strength to keep going. I have to learn not to judge other parents when I see their kids, but humbly recognize that God's help. I also heard once that when we see another child throwing a tantrum at the store, our attitude shouldn't be "that will never be my child", but to say a quick prayer for their parents' patience 😀

  3. Thanks for your thoughts ladies!lol Aymee. You definitely need to knock on wood huh! And good point about the prayer for the other parent. I don't think you can be a parent and not experience at least one public meltdown…unless you never take the child in public…:)


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