“Do not handicap your children by making their lives easy.” – Robert A. Heinlein
I was seven years old when I first experienced being told “no” without a reason why, or at least a reason that I thought was legitimate.
I was shopping for a field trip with my grandma and mom and I wanted a pack of choker necklaces– You know, the elastic, plastic chokers that everyone wore in the ’90s. This pack came with 3 different bright colors. Though I already had chokers at home, I asked my grandmother could she buy them and she said, “No, I’m not buying you those.” End of story. Now, because I didn’t understand why, I made the mistake of asking Nanny (my grandma) why couldn’t I get the chokers. Needless to say, Nanny took me to school in that store and she made it CLEAR not to ask again because I didn’t need anything else. This wasn’t the last time that I didn’t get my way with her.
10 years Later
I was 17 years old and I wanted to go out with my friends. I was the 4.0 GPA-taking-advanced-placement-courses-and-involved student. Nanny told me I couldn’t go, no reason added. By that time, I was literally fed up with the over-protectiveness and was so ready to move out. I even used to compare my life to being in jail and there were times where I hated living with Nanny. Church EVERY Sunday morning, cleaning on Saturday, would never get me all the things I asked for, would barely let me hang out with friends and even some family, and a million and one rules to abide by out of respect. I was fed up and I swore if I had kids I would never raise them how I was raised.
26 Years Old
Now I’m on my own, and I budget better than most adults my age because I am the queen of, “Let me put this purse back. I don’t need it right now.” Nanny taught me. When I have to choose between clubbing with friends and staying in to work on my blogging, I can easily put my work first and just stay in. Knowing what my priorities are, being able to stand alone, and being disciplined are some of my best qualities…Nanny taught me.
When I was younger, I didn’t think that being disciplined by Nanny would teach me discipline. I didn’t think that not getting my way would teach me how to not be disappointed when I don’t get my way in life (because when does life ever go exactly the way we have it planned). I’m okay with not following the crowd because Nanny didn’t allow me to follow the crowd when I was younger. I’ve been comfortable with being who I am since I was about 10 years old; I didn’t have all the name brand clothes and shoes to fit in, so I had to rely on being kind and having a great personality. I was a 10-year-old that knew how to just be me and to actually like being me—this is a lesson that some people don’t learn until they’re in their mid-20s, if at all. I owe it to Nanny and her tough love.
There were times when I was told “no” but I would still make the situation work for me. So I couldn’t get the Tommy Hilfiger jean jacket, I would get the next best thing and make it work or find a way to make the money to buy it myself (legally, of course). I learned to use my resources and my talents to make money, a lesson that’s very valuable in adulthood. I learned how to not always take “no” for a final answer, and that most times, when there’s a will, there’s a way. Resilience is what Nanny taught me.
So while tough love may not work for every child in the same way, if it’s meant for me to have a family, I will raise my children exactly how I was raised. Most parents worry that they will run their children away, that their children will hate them, and that they will rebel. And honestly, those are valid concerns. However, tough love gives more pros than cons and is probably one of the most old school, but effective parenting styles. I would love to see this style of parenting in this new generation, instead of parents focusing so much on being their child’s friend. It’s very important that we don’t take tough love out of households for good, and I can give eight reasons why it’s important to bring it back: Discipline, self-love and acceptance, the ability to prioritize and stand out among the crowd, respect for self and others, good morals, kindness, and resilience. These are all very important traits for successful adulthood that can be taught with self-love. These principles can serve as a defense against the many struggles this generation of children faces, such as bullying (cyberbullying), slut-shaming and sexual harassment (because face it, this generation is over-exposed to sexuality), gang affiliation, and most importantly, violence of all types.
Tough love doesn’t mean not letting your child have a life, but it does mean not letting your child run their own life until they are of age or until they prove they’re able to do so with common sense. In Nanny’s house, that meant until you left her house. A child is a child and needs to be trained. Nanny would nod her head in agreement as my grandfather would quote, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” I’ve made many mistakes, and I don’t have my life all together, but my character is unquestionable. I’m a good person, mostly because of how I was raised. Remember, it’s the lessons that you teach your children that will make them who they are, not the material things or being just their best friend.
Written By: Kahina Ray
Follow Kahina on Instagram: @_k.ray