Accepting the Word “No”

As part of my never-ending education, I am currently reading the book, “Generation Text: Raising Well-Adjusted Kids in an Age of Instant Everything*” by Dr. Michael Osit.  I’m only on chapter three, but I’ve found it well written thus far.  It’s on my iPad, so I’ve been reading it on the treadmill.

PJ Reading on Treadmill

One of the concepts that I am always discussing with my children is the difference between wants and needs.  So when Dr. Osit started discussing this concept in Chapter 3 (I Want it Now! Immediate Gratification), I started shaking my head vigorously in agreement.  And then I read this statement:

“One of your main goals as a parent is to teach your child how to tell the difference between wanting and needing.  To do this, YOU must be clear on the difference.”

Now, I have to point out that the author highlighted the “you” in that quote.  I didn’t do it.  And I have to be honest, my first reaction was, “Absolutely!  You tell all those bad parents out there that their understanding of a want and a need is all screwed up and they are teaching their children poorly.”

Yep, major self-righteousness in the house.

And then I started to think, “Hmmm… he’s not talking to me, is he?!?”

So, I stopped reading and thought about it.  There’s no doubt about it, my definition of want and need has blurred a bit in the past couple of years.  Before we started Goat Milk Stuff, we were pretty broke and everything extra that we did earn went toward paying off our mortgage.

But now, our mortgage is paid off and there is some freedom in our budget that we’ve never had before.  My older children definitely know the difference between a want and a need, but what about my younger children?

If they say they need something, what do I say?  I usually tell them to write it down on the shopping list.  Just because they write it on the list doesn’t mean that I buy it for them.  But I really don’t sit and have the conversation about whether or not it is a want or a need.

After some soul searching, I discovered, that I’ve definitely loosened up on this area, and I’ve decided to be a little more vigilant about it – particularly with the youngest children.  My conscience was now clear and my self-righteousness smothered, so I read on and eventually came to this sentence:

“A well-adjusted child is one who can both wait to get what he wants, and accept that he may not get everything he asks for without pitching a fit or repeatedly asking for it.  It is our job as parents to train our children to temper their reactions and cope with the delay or denial of their wants.”

At this I heaved a big sigh of relief.  I may have loosened up on the wants vs. needs mantra, but in a family of ten, everybody definitely does not get everything that they ask for.  And we definitely parent them to handle it in an appropriate manner.   Unfortunately, I’ve often witnessed parents who give in to their child’s every demand and wish.  While I’ve always intuitively known that method is a bad way to parent, here’s a great summary of the reasons why:

“If your kids are conditioned from early childhood to expect to get whatever they want, they will be confused and disillusioned when the rest of the world does not follow suit.  As adults, these children face significant problems with anger management, professionalism, and personal relationships.  If an individual doesn’t learn effective coping mechanisms regarding need and want gratification in childhood, that person runs the risk of developing a number of immature and inappropriate behaviors as an adult and can subsequently suffer from depression and anxiety later in life.”

WOW.  Is that not scary?

I bring this up to encourage you (and me).  I usually do not feel badly when I deny my children things that they want.  (I know, I’ve said it before, I’m a mean mom.)  I’ve always thought not getting everything they want was good for the children.  And yet – I actually felt guilty about telling Brett that she could not have a cell phone, even though I didn’t believe she should have one yet.

Brett with Cell Phone

I don’t feel guilty any longer!  It’s just as important for teenagers to learn to handle “no” as it is for toddlers to handle it.  I am being a good mom and teaching her how to handle disappointment.  Plus it will make getting a cell phone that much sweeter for her because she had to wait for it and anticipate it.

Overall, I think I’m on the right track with distinguishing between my children’s wants and needs.  Now that it has been brought to my attention, I’m more aware of the fact that I need to communicate that difference with the younger children.  It will be fun watching their reactions.  I’m anticipating something like, “Ummm… can I write it down on the shopping list anyway?”

So what about you?  Do you find it hard to say no to your children?  Do you think that needs to change?  Or are you comfortable with the balance of your yes/no?  I’d love to talk about it and hear what other parents are thinking, so please leave me a comment.




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  • Sheila

    Thanks PJ! I so needed this today. As a fellow homeschool mom I have more than average time with my children to train them. This is an area I am definitely weak in. Thanks again for the encouragement.

    • Hi Sheila,

      I’m so glad that you found it encouraging. I love it when I read something and it jumps right out at me. Especially when it is something that I *think* I’ve got under control and then realize under closer inspection that it’s an area that needs some work. LOL


    • Hi Sheila,
      I’m so glad that you found it encouraging. I love it when I read something and it jumps right out at me. Especially when it is something that I *think* I’ve got under control and then realize under closer inspection that it’s an area that needs some work. LOL

  • Kim

    Michael before the age of 2 could recite the definition of want and need.  He could distinguish between the two and make an appropriate  request.  “I need carrots” but “I want that toy.”  His definition included the fact that you get what you need, but you might have to wait (forever occasionally) for those things that you just want.

    He explained this in detail to my mother one day.  Her take-away:  (and I quote) “I’ve never wanted a single thing since that day.  I NEED it.”  Sigh!  If only we could teach our parents too.

    • Good for Michael, bad for your mom. LOL


    • Good for Michael, bad for your mom. LOL

  • Jmestel

    Memories!  I used to tell my dad I NEED this or that.  He would say “is it a want or a need?”  Of course I replied it was a need.  He would respond, ” I think it’s a want.”  I didn’t say anymore, because I knew it was useless to argue at that point!  Strong, loving father.  I don’t know how many times my boys have heard me repeat this to them!!!

    • I love it! It makes it so much easier when our parents model good parenting to us. Just repeat it! 🙂


    • I love it! It makes it so much easier when our parents model good parenting to us. Just repeat it! 

  • Teachwitt

    I teach high school freshmen.  Often I am the FIRST person in their life that has told them no.  It is a hard blow for them and for their parents. 

    • You’ve got a really good point in that it is shocking to the parents too. Jim taught Junior High for 7 years and came across many parents that thought their children should not be told no. Unfortunately, it’s often to the detriment of the child and everyone around them.


    • You’ve got a really good point in that it is shocking to the parents too. Jim taught Junior High for 7 years and came across many parents that thought their children should not be told no. Unfortunately, it’s often to the detriment of the child and everyone around them.

  • MaryBeth

    I loved your “mean Mom” reference. Despite the fact that I am now in a position where I could get my kids most of their wants, I am proud to have been called the “mean Mom” who says no. We have been playing the need or want game since toddler-hood and hopefully they will grow up to realize that nothing comes easy. Hard work is necessary no matter what they choose to do. You aren’t a “mean Mom”, you are an awesome Mom. Your kiddos are lucky (and I am sure they know it). 

    • goatmilkstuff

      Thanks, Beth – when we left them for the first time ever, you would have thought the world was ending.  I felt very loved. 😉  


  • Jenton

    Hmmm – Proud of being a mean mum?? What a disappointing thing to read on your post. You can parent well and bring up caring, giving, responsible kids without being mean. Try being consistent, loving, firm, gentle, fair instead of mean. Shame on you.

    • goatmilkstuff

      Hi Jenton,

      I’m sorry that you misunderstood what I was trying to say. Around my house, when I am being consistent, loving, firm, gentle, and fair that often means that my children do not always get what they want. This is part of my definition of a good parent. I think that children who always get what they want end up spoiled and unhappy. But not getting everything that they want can make my children sometimes perceive me as being mean (especially when I am firm and consistent). That was the point I was trying to make. I hope that clarifies things.


      • Jackie

        I agree with you and I’m sharing this from PBS Parents! I have come to realize how important the limits we set for our children are for the development of their creativity: When we won’t let them do exactly what they want to do, they have to search out new alternatives. — Mister Rogers

      • Erika

        From the minute they come out it’s a power struggle, discipline is an important part of parenting! We don’t do it to be mean but do it because we love them and want the best for them. I remember thinking my mom was SO mean, she didn’t let me do what other kids were doing and i am great full for that. Those other moms didn’t care what their girls were up to! I am now following in my moms “mean” footsteps ( although she only had 2 kids and I have 4). It takes a village, and I have an army of friends keeping a good eye out too, because when the cats away…. I think that comment was from a person without children (or very young) you are an amazing mother and you have many supporters PJ!

      • Christy

        Long time, card carrying member of the Mean Mom club!! lol

      • Tonya

        I jokingly tell my kids it is my job to be mean. My grand-daughter called me “no-no” for the first few months she spoke b/c I was the only one who said it to her. If we as a society do not start to teach the next generation to live with out instant gratification, as our past generations did, we are all headed for great depravity and disappointment. The fast service life will not continue to keep up with the unrelenting demands of a selfish and instant drive through society. There is peace and joy in learning to wait. I feel it is my God given appointment and duty to teach that to my children.

      • Jennifer

        I take it in stride that at least once a week if not more, I will be told I am the meanest mom in the whole world (once it was the whole universe). I agree, being loving doesn’t mean that they should always get what they want and it does mean that from their perspective you are “just being mean” to them. But eventually, they will understand.

      • Greg

        There is nothing wrong with being firm and consistent, that is an expression of love, kids will not think you mean if you are loving, they will learn right from wrong this way, but it might better to not use that wording. They might go around saying I have a ‘mean mom’ which will make people wonder if it is true.

      • Gretchen

        I agree with you – a “mean mom” isn’t actually a mean mom – she is a good mom who is raising children who aren’t selfish and who don’t think they should be entitled to everything.

      • Shannon

        I can be a “mean mom” a lot of times but it is out if love I want my daughter to grow up knowing that she will have to work for things not everything will be given to her and I will not by any means reward bad behavior at all!!! To many kids these days are just given everything to “shut them up” and I will not stand for it!!!!! I am a mom that will spank my child in public when she is acting up, there is a difference from spanking to beating, I have never beat my child spanking yes and I think more children should be spanked!!!!

      • Melissa

        It’s so unfortunate that parents openly judge other parents. Every child is different and every parenting style is different. Unless another parent’s method affects you or your family directly, or a child is being physically or emotionally harmed, then how someone parents their own child is really no one else’s business. It is especially upsetting that a person may feel the right to openly and publicly voice their judgement and opinion, they may not agree with your style but should keep that opinion to themself if nothing else.

      • Ashley

        Oh I say all the time that I’m a mean mom! I get crappy responses from other moms/relatives because I don’t always give in to my kids – its part of being consistent. Things like fast food, toys, and extra dessert are special treats – not the “norm”. A lot of parents give the “pick your battles” speech. I agree, but too many parents these days use that as a write off to give the kids what they want in order to “shut them up”. This teaches no one anything – parents don’t learn how to stand their ground and kids don’t learn that No means No. I don’t care if we’re in public or at home, discipline will remain the same which gives me a “mean mom” rap because I won’t give in just to please everyone else. I’ve seen first-hand how spoiling children does them no good. I was somehow held at different expectations than my siblings (probably because I’m the oldest) and so far I’m the only one out of 4 who hasn’t taken a ride in a cop car! So yea, am I a mean mom? Darn right I am! And proud of it!

      • Karyn

        When i get (got) called mean i always agreed.  I’ve said, more than once, i do this or that because i love you. If i didn’t love u, id let u do whatever u please because i wouldn’t care how u turned out

      • Karla

        Children often think it’s mean when they don’t get what they want. Setting boundries your kids don’t like keeps them safe and helps them grow up to be responsible adults. Actually it’s loving to not give into them… so being a “mean” mom is what you’re supposed to do. I sometimes joke with my kids that I’m the meanest mom in the world.

      • Sara

        If your children grow into adults and never called you ‘mean’ I would seriously be concerned. I know exactly what you are talking about PJ. Keep up the great parenting.

      • Mary

        I completely understand what you are saying and completely agree.

      • Cathleen

        Then I guess I am also a mean Mom, too, because I used the word NO a lot when my 3 sons were little guys. They also didn’t get everything they wanted. They worked for things and earned them at times, as well. You could be caring and lovable and still be firm.

        I am with you, all the way PJ! Signed, another mean Mom. ♥

      • Caroline

        I understood it well, I am a “mean mum” too. We have 3 boys… 2 of which are teenagers. We have to say “no” quite frequently.

      • Ellie

        I have come to realize how important the limits we set for our children are for the development of their creativity: When we won’t let them do exactly what they want to do, they have to search out new alternatives. — Mister Rogers

      • Elisa

        PJ, I love this!! My Mama told me later on, once I had my first girl, Mean Mom = Good Mom…..and I wear that badge proudly, too!:)

      • Dee

        I am often considered a mean mom and I am a teacher – who is considered mean. I am superbly proud of both titles!

      • Angie

        PJ, I am a mean mom too. I have been around you and your kids and you are not a true “mean” mom. When you say or ask them to do something they do it. With eight kids and for them to behave and be so well mannered say something about how good you and Jim are doing with them.

      • Maegan

        Welcome to the mean mom club everyone! I totally agree with you PJ. The most valuable skill we teach our kids is self control and how to deal with frustration.

      • Leah

        People can be so critical and take your words out of context or distort them as a way to criticize you. Unfortunately, there are lots of people like that, especially ones who are unafraid to publicly do it in a very deprecating, condescending manner. Never mind them. You know what you are doing is right.

      • Sherri

        Raise a glass to the “mean” -consistent, fair and firm moms! Raise two glasses for the ones who stay home and spend all day with them!!!

      • Sarah

        That was my systems theme song… I also am on this category. When my kids aren’t calling me mean though, I’m called the best. The kids also know they can use me as a scapegoat,.(pardon the term…lol.), when their friend ask them to do something they know isn’t right or they don’t feel comfortable doing. This helps to keep them from being bullied sometimes and then their friends think I’m mean.

      • Kendra

        I think that if your children don’t consider you a “mean mom” at some point in their lives, then you are do something wrong in your parenting!

      • Chris

        absolutely, you are right on! i too am one. just this morning my little guy said i was the “the meanest mommy in the whole world”.

      • Lauren

        There is nothing wrong with NO. And there is nothing wrong with YOU. Truly mean parents raise truly mean kids, and there is no evidence of that at all here, quite the contrary. Good parenting involves following your convictions and values without apology. Kids thrive on this. As a professional Nanny and mom to five, I wish more parents these days would emulate this. Keep right on raising good kids. The world needs a lot more of them!!

      • Mike

        you seem like great people i only worry that youre growing too fast remember the down home family made is what has been why people love your products as far as being mean u seem wonderful really mean moms all over using meth abusing thier kids thats a mean mom u seem wonderful i think firm is the better word people hear mean and think abusive.

        inspiring is the best word to describe you and gms

      • Wanda

        When my boys said, “You’re mean”, I knew I was doing something right. I knew that they knew that I wasn’t going to budge in my “no” answer to whatever they wanted. I was being firm, sticking with my answer, and not letting them guilt me in to giving in. If I had given in to their guilt trips, then I would have been allowing them to bully me. And, I wasn’t going to raise bullies. And, I wasn’t going to raise spoiled, bratty children who had an attitude of entitlement to everything they wanted. So, yes, they got mad at me, hated me at times, but that was ok. I didn’t take it personally. Today, they are healthy well-adjusted adults who know how to live and thrive in a world that does not give in to their every whim and let them have their way all the time. So, PJ, I absolutely agree with you.

      • Christine

        pllltttt… I call myself a mean mom all of the time. I think that persons time could have been better spent on other endeavors rather than commenting on your post. I would rather be perceived as “mean” by my children sometimes than have raised spoiled, entitled, lazy, disrespectful adults. Part of loving them is setting reasonable boundaries for their behavior.

      • Jeanette

        I’m not a mom yet, but hope to be someday soon. However, I am an elementary teacher. I consider myself a “mean teacher” for many of the same reasons you wear your badge. I am “mean”, because I care about my students. This means being consistent and giving undesirable consequences when students don’t follow the rules or expectations. Wear that badge proud! I wish more of my students had parents who were willing to do so. 🙂

      • Roberta

        It sounds to me like you have a wonderful successful family which can only be accomplished the way you are doing it. Don’t worry about what ignorant people say!

      • Lori

        P.J.–I think that most of us knew exactly what you meant, especially those of us who were raised by loving, firm, gentle and fair parents who didn’t give into every whim and want we had as children. In this age of children who have this exaggerated air of entitlement about them, I think you and Jim are doing an awesome job of raising your children to be well-adjusted, caring people. If teaching your children about working hard and having a giving nature is being “mean” then this country sorely needs more “mean” parents like you! What child do you know that hasn’t called their parents “mean” at one time or another? Too bad there’s always someone out there that takes things way too liteally and is far too judgemental. Keep up the good work and keep being “mean!” Your kids will thank you for it one day.

      • Kimberly

        You go PJ!!! You are right on. People parent differently so shame on HER for criticizing you as if you abuse your children. You are doing a fantastic job with all of your children and their good attitudes, respectfulness and appreciation for things (among many other fine attributes) are a reflection of your “mean” parenting. I am inspired by you all the time. Great job, you and Jim, for raising AWESOME kids!!!

      • Julie

        my sis said to me the other day, “One kid said he hated me, and the other said I was mean. This tells me that I’m doing my job and I’m their parent, and not their friend”. so true! I’ve been called mean plenty of times by my son. it’s part of being a mom. if your kids don’t think you’re mean (at least the little ones, because they can’t articulate their feelings too well) then you’re probably a pushover.

      • MarySue

        I understand. I, too, was a mean Mom and my kids have turned out great and they still love me. They have even been mean Moms when necessary. 😉

      • Judy

        I think it would be mean to let children grow up thinking they can have everything they want. Life isn’t like that and once they leave the nest they’d have a very hard time finding that out. Now THAT would be mean. I like your philosophy and agree with it

      • Natalie

        I get told I am “mean” at least once a day! and it’s usually for something like telling her she needs to brush her teeth or please don’t terrorize the dog. LOL She’s a bit headstrong 🙂 Part of being a good parent!

      • Brianne

        I absolutely agree with you. Children who do not get that firm, consistency, and are being handed everything they want are the reason why Americans are the way they are today…. entitled, self-serving people. And, a lot of people have taught their children when they hear the word “no” or when they are punished, then fit throwing will get them what they want. That makes my job as a teacher 100% harder because I have to deal with the behavior parents have taught their children is acceptable. My daughter tells me I am “mean” all the time… and that just lets me know that I am doing my job. No, I am not really mean, but as long as she sees me as mean, I know I am not giving in to her, and she will appreciate it one of these days; which is exactly how my parents raised me.

      • Martha

        Children that can’t accept “no” grow up to be selfish adults with an “i want it now” mentality. Keep doing what you’re doing.

      • Susan

        I am mean all the time! And I don’t care what a little kid thinks. I run the show and its ship and I will keep it tight and needy…. By the way my kids adore me

      • Melissa

        I am a fourth grade teacher, and I am often called the “mean teacher” because I am the one that tells them no, or that they aren’t going to get away with something that they have gotten away with for years. I parent the same way. I only have one little boy (and we can’t have anymore), but he is NOT spoiled. My mom has offered to buy him toys before, and he has simply placed them back on the shelf at the store because he knew he did not need it. It is a truly humbling experience. I am proud to be a “mean” teacher and parent. My students and my son KNOW that I love them, and frankly, that is the best thing I can ask for. Good for you for being firm and consistent and “mean”!

      • Tara

        We often joked that my mom went to “mean mom school”, my parents were mean sometimes, when needed. They were consistant for sure. As someone who needs structure in my life, I’m glad for the way I was raised and if I ever get to be a parent, I’ll probably be way meaner!

      • Melanie

        You are totally right. I don’t wish my kids to think I am mean per say but I understand how you used it there. Mean being good!

      • Andrea

        I got it and totally agree with the blog. I find myself slipping sometimes too but I know they don’t always get what they want. I appreciate that I can take my children by a toy section in a store and they understand that I will not buy them something and often they don’t even ask. I thank them for not getting a case of the ‘Gimmes’ I think the person on your blog may have the Amelia Bedilia syndrome and took the comment too literally.

      • Melody

        I say I’m the “mean mom” jokingly. I’m sure to a 3 year old, when I say no it seems mean. I’m hardly actually mean though

      • Bunny

        My kids grew up happy & well behaved but I’m sure they they thought I was mean at times.

    • Amy

      Today parents who raise children like you are “are being mean” I am proud to be a mean mom! I am not my childs “best friend” I am a parent who wants to raise children who are responsible,compassionate, have good morals I want a child who is well rounded. today to many parents try hard to be the “best friend” dont get me wrong here I love my kids, we work together, we play together and speak daily (even the ones who have moved into thier own homes and have a family). But they know that I am mom but also know they can turn to me as needed I have listening ears, an open mind and arms but also will tell them they way it is. Thank you for being a mean mom we need more of them in todays world 🙂

    • Cheryl

      I was publicly called a “mean mom” by another parent at a school meeting for stating that I do not make a separate meal (of junk food) for my child if they don’t want what’s being served for dinner, and for supporting nutritious foods at school. I shared this with my kids for their input, they were dumbfounded at how keeping them healthy, and providing good food choices were bad….and they wouldn’t want it any other way. The way I (and my kids) see it….”mean” (in this context) moms Rock. 🙂

    • Juliet

      I didn’t read the blog, but i disciplined my child last night. Felt Soo Guilty all night.This morning my child woke up and came to me with a smile on its face and snuggled with me. So, “mean” parents are doing the right thing.

    • Meredith

       I do call myself a mean mom. And, my kids call me a mean mom. But, I agree with you — that is usually just because I’m being consistent and firm and trying to train them up properly so they can make good decisions as an adult, and trying to keep them safe in the meantime. (they are 4 and 8). I’ve been kinda bummed this morning because I feel like such a mean mom but I know it will pay off, and if I give up now, I’ll end up with 2 rebellious teenagers on a path of destruction, and I’m not willing to do that!

    • Sarah

      Yep. My 4 year olds tell me I’m so mean when I am firm and discipline or correct. You aren’t alone and I bet a lot more moms smiled and knew exactly what you were talking about when you wrote that. Your kids know you love them and will get to be the mean parents one day.

    • Jennifer

      Am I a mean mom because I say ‘no’? Absolutely not, and neither are any of the other parents who say ‘no’! That poster really did misunderstand your great post, and if she is raising her child never telling them ‘no,’ I feel sorry for that child when he/she becomes an adult. That child is in for a world of confusion and disappointment when she has to hear ‘no’ from everyone from teachers, to bosses, to colleagues.

      • Jennifer

        And, this is *exactly* why so many children and young adults today have a sense of entitlement. It’s a really sad state of affairs, in my opinion.

  • Fred79_au

    I once saw an article in a magazine that was lying around work about Suri Holmes having a massive temper tantrum in a toy store because her mum had told her that she couldn’t get a toy she wanted, how did Katie treat the situation, Suri got the toy. I believe that is parenting at it’s worst. I have 3 boys (aged 4, 2 and 9 months) and we haven’t had one temper tantrum from them about not getting what they want even when we take them into a toy store and let them see toys but not buy them is fine they are happy when we leave because they know that they get treats every now and then just not daily. I don’t look on it as being a bad mum I look on it as loving them and helping them grow up so they won’t be disappointed when they hear the word no or later 

    • That’s a really good point – we still have to be willing to tell our children no, even when it is embarrassing and people are watching.


  • eliewriter

    I had to smile when you wrote “mean mom.” I’ve used that term a few times myself over the years, always tongue-in-cheek, as in, “Well I have to be tough ─ you wouldn’t want me to lose my reputation as a mean mom, right?”

    I get the feeling that, like me, you’re saying “mean mom” in a joking way. 

    Actually, I believe it’s meaner to let your child grow up with the mistaken impression that they’re automatically supposed to get everything they want. I remember reading a theory that the inability to delay gratification is connected with every type of crime. While I don’t know if this is true, we’ve all witnessed the connection between the inability to delay gratification and extreme brattiness, the kind of kids people avoid being around because no one apparently cared enough about them to kindly teach them that although they’re very important, others are also important and they don’t get to dominate the world with their wants.

    It’s super refreshing to see a parent who is actually thinking through these issues instead of simply doing what’s trendy or takes less mental exertion. Thanks for a good post!

    • Elie – It would not surprise me at all to hear that all crime could be linked back to the inability to delay gratification.  That and empathy.  I think for so many parents it is so easy to focus on the short term and the here and now.  This comes at the expense of the long term view of what is healthy for a child.  It takes a lot of effort to do the “right” think instead of the easy thing.

      And I was so encouraged to hear all the responses and the fact that there are a lot of parents out there who feel the same way!!


  • guest

    Love your articles PJ….and identified with ‘Mean Mom”.  As a single working mom I had to frequently tell my son and daughter they couldn’t have something they wanted.   They understood.   But sometimes I think my grandchildren are ‘overindulged’ because the parents felt deprived.   Guess they really didn’t get the want/need difference! 

    • goatmilkstuff

      Thanks!  It’s hard, because we can’t just do the right thing, but we have to get our children to understand with why we do it and (ultimately) agree with it.  Definitely a challenge!!

  • goatmilkstuff

    Hi Amy,  That is so awesome to hear.  I love knowing that it pays off and that adult relationships are so special means a lot!!

  • Peggy

    One of the comments on this blog is right on target.   I was a single mom too and my kids understood the difference:  they might ‘want’ something but the ‘needs’ were what they ended up with!   However, I agree with the comment a month ago from ‘guest’ that grand- children are indulged because their parents felt deprived.   Living on social security, we can’t do much to help our children or grandchildren, so sometimes I feel guilty I can’t do more.   That’s what happens…our own guilt drives us to try to give children what they ‘want’!

    • goatmilkstuff

      It’s enjoyable to make somebody happy by giving them something they want.  And we do that too, on occasion.  We’re just very careful not to cross the line between ENJOYING having the occasional want met and EXPECTING having it met.


  • Peggy

    Have another question…what does the author suggest for those parents whose child is having a major melt down because he/she was told ‘no’ in a store?   No time for logical explanations about difference between want/need, so does he have any suggestion?

    • goatmilkstuff

      I don’t know what the author would suggest.  I’ve never had that happen to me because my children are not raised having all their wants met. They know how to handle the word no.  I have had young ones cry when they were told they couldn’t have something and I just ignore that and continue to shop.  My children are allowed to be sad and cry about something (especially when they’re little).  They are not allowed to throw a fit or tantrum.  That behavior gets disciplined. 

      Once you’ve had a child trained (or not trained) to throw tantrums, then you have to get intentional about it.  I would take that child out repeatedly to stores and just shop around and not buy anything.  The entire purpose of the trips would be to teach the child appropriate behavior in the store.  It always takes a lot more time to “undo” a learned behavior.


  • Byulli

    You sound like my mother <3 I love her to bits.
    I firmly believe that proper discipline is one of the best thing you can ever do for a child (although I admit as an eighteen year old *CHILD* I still think I lack some… hehe). To teach children what's right and wrong is giving them a part of your heart. It's caring about their future, sowing seeds of patience in their hearts.

    What I find with children of households who have a somewhat stable-ish financials is that as the kids save up money (from birthdays, holidays, etc.) they start to think that they can buy whatever they want and have that right because it's "their money". But that is incorrect. While it may be "theirs", as a family, each member has a right to dispute where that money should be put to use. Of course, caring parents won't just take it from their children for their own use, but the meaning of family is that each person's opinion matters and that especially parents who only want their children to grow into blessed, fulfilled adults should get more respect from the younger generations.

    Actually, touching on the "over-indulged grandchildren" theme… My parents immigrated to America to seek better job opportunities. My dad grew up an orphan and was supported by his older brother and could only graduate middle school (Korea's childcare system is different than America; people are more self sufficient). My mom grew up in a poor countryside. I think that children who are the most blessed, are the ones who grow up with some hardship. They gain wisdom from it and end up with a deeper heart who can understand those going through the same thing. Too much comfort in your life, and you'll be wearing rose colored lenses.

    ^ This was unnecessarily long and I'm sorry for it ^-^;; I become a big mouth on the internet. Teehee.

    • goatmilkstuff

      It wasn’t too long. And I agree – when everything comes to easily to children, it’s very easy for them to get an entitlement attitude. My children know they don’t “deserve” anything. They truly enjoy what they work hard to earn and what they are given for free. 🙂

  • DynamicKitty

    My son is going on ten years old and it’s always been a struggle around our house to get him to realize that you don’t always get everything you want. I have no problem saying no, I’ve been conditioned to accept no since I was a child because we always struggled financially so I think that helps me with raising our son to know the difference. I commend you on your efforts with your children, I’m sure it isn’t always easy, especially when you have more than one.

    • goatmilkstuff

      Thank you! Sounds like you’re persevering with your son and that is what matters! And yep, motherhood is rarely easy! Good thing I don’t expect it to be. LOL PJ

  • Jenny

    I don’t have children yet.. but I see my own need of distinguishing between want and need and see why perhaps I have trouble dealing with disappointment myself. Its good training for us as adults to experience that we can make it through disappointment and it usually works out in the end.

    • goatmilkstuff

      Exactly! I’ve always said that God gives us children not just so that we can raise them up. But that we can finish growing up ourselves. LOL PJ

  • Lisa Landrum Henson

    We work on this all the time. The boys are getting better, but their first instinct when they see something they like is “I want…”. We’re teaching them that it’s fine to pick out things you might like as a birthday or Christmas gift, but mom and dad aren’t made of money, and we can’t get (nor do we really need to have) everything we want. We’re working to help them learn to save for things they want, rather than just expecting/demanding them from us. it’s a challenge, but I know it’s worth it to help them learn the difference.

    • goatmilkstuff

      Good for you! It’s so important for children to learn that and I’m so glad to hear that you’re teaching it to them!! PJ

  • Tammy ‘Townsend’ Reicherts

    I LOVE this! I wrote the title down to add to my GoodReads. I totally struggle with giving my kids what they want in some areas but also easily say no to other things. Given I stay home with them the budget is pretty tight so that helps with a lot of things and we explain to them about having to earn money before we can purchase things but I don’t know if we really explain it much more then that. They are only 2 & 4 and while I’m grateful they know not to beg for toys in stores, I’m sure it will change once my son starts Kindergarten in the fall and his eyes are widened to the toys out there. Thanks for the book suggestion and thoughts. I think we will need to explain a little more about the difference of want and need versus just “we don’t have money for x,y,z”.

    • goatmilkstuff

      I’m so glad to help! They are young, but they’re off to a great start. It’s my hope that more parents teach the difference between wants and needs and that more adults learn to make the distinction as well! 😉

  • Bethany Cascante

    My children are used to the idea of delayed gratification. If they see something at the store (which is rare since we try to do all shopping when they are in school) or something on tv (which is rare since we rarely watch commercials) and say “I want that,” our response is almost always, “Well, if you REALLY want it, remember to add that to your birthday or Christmas list and ask Gramma for it.” Most stuff is quickly forgotten. The stuff that was important enough to write down is great help for my mom and us when it comes time to buy presents for the holidays. And our kids don’t expect us to buy them anything at that moment. In the 2 years I have been their step-mom, there has never been a tantrum!

    • goatmilkstuff

      Good job! That’s so encouraging to hear! 🙂

  • Jean Gonzalez

    There are times I have the want vs. need discussion with my husband in his 40s. This is not just a youth thing. When we consider today as a “Culture of Me,” we have to realize it covers members of every generation. While immediacy can be such a blessing some areas of our life — such as in a health care concern or being stuck in the middle of nowhere with a broken-down car — it can be, at times, the bane of our existence because it takes away that moment when we stop and think instead of react. Oh my gosh, that (insert product here) is so great, and I need it.

    • goatmilkstuff

      Exactly! And credit cards and the internet feed that culture and make it so easy. Which is why it’s a constant battle, despite our age! PJ

  • Kaye Marsh Joyce

    I think when kids ask for something that is very expensive… they should have 3 days to decide the reason behind WHY they need it. They may find they don’t..

    • goatmilkstuff

      A 3 day waiting period is always a good idea – despite how expensive it is. 😉

  • Dee

    My mother never had a problem with the word “No” and I’m thankful. She also told us kids before we went into a store, “you will not touch anything and there will be no “buy me bugs” or else.” Now “or else” could be one of a number of punshments or all of them, we didn’t want to find out. Funny thing I don’t remember being punshed much.

    • goatmilkstuff

      Sounds like you had an amazing Mom. Good for her!!! And you bring up a good point. When parents set good expectations and follow through, the amount of punishment that is needed is very little.

  • sunshinehdfan

    I love how you always want the best upbringing for your children, I think you are doing everything right.

    • goatmilkstuff

      Thank you for that! I appreciate it. Definitely not doing everything right, but I think we’re getting the big important stuff done!! PJ

  • susan king

    I was brought up to believe if I wanted it I had to earn it. If I needed it they would get it for me.

    • goatmilkstuff

      I love that as long as the definition of “need” is clear. 🙂