Them: “I’m sorry I was late.” Me: “No problem.”
Them: “I’ll pay you next week.” Me: “No problem.”
Them: “Can you get me more to eat.” Me: “No problem.”
Them: “Can you stay late, I have to get somewhere.” Me: “No problem.”
Them: “I am not going to be able to do what I promised I would. ” Me: “No problem.”
It’s the new “it” phrase heard around the country from well-meaning moms who just want to keep the peace. I was a two-word mom for years. Thinking it was a kind way of saying, “Don’t mention it.” or “It’s fine”, yet what I really wanted to say was:
I do have a problem with you being late five times in row.
I do have a problem with you paying me late, as I actually need the money.
I do have a problem with getting you more to eat, because I just spent an hour cooking and finally sat down to enjoy MY meal.
I do have a problem staying late. I need to get somewhere.
I do have a problem with you continually breaking your promises.
How easy it is to give our power away. We will sacrifice our own time, money, and priorities for the sake of not wanting to confront those who take advantage of us.
My breaking point was at 6:23 p.m. at the preschool where I was a director. As a single mom it was important to get off work at 6:00 p.m. to get home and be with my kids. Yet, for the fifth time in two weeks, one of the parents was late picking up their child. As she walked in, she asked if I would sign her name on the check-out sheet since she had just had her nails painted at the salon. As always, I said, “no problem.” She tenderly got her child’s things so not to damage her nails, which took another five minutes. She never acknowledged her lateness with a thank you or apology. It was at that moment the lightbulb went off in my head.
Of course she didn’t apologize. For weeks I had told her it was “no problem” coming in late to pick up her child. Her interpretation was, “hey it is ok to be late as the director seems to think it is fine.” I essentially gave her every excuse to be late, without a concern for our closing time, me or her child.
The next morning as she checked in her child, I confidently said, “we close at 6 p.m., and if you are late today, I will have to end your child’s enrollment.” She was shocked. I reiterated that this tardiness was in our policy handbook. She was never late again. I gained her respect and she adhered to what was expected, not what she wanted to do.
When you say “no problem” you say “walk all over me”, “I’m not as important as your issues.”, “I need your approval.”, “I don’t know how to tell you NO”. You become a doormat that says, “Come In and Treat Me as You Please.”
Let’s change the lingo and learn to say:
I wish I could, but I can’t
Thanks but I am not able to do that
You will have to wait
Once I learned to use different responses and say what was really true, I communicate my values. At first, friends and family were shocked that I started to stand up for myself. It took some getting used to it, but now it’s the way I respond. It has been a freedom and fun with NO problems.
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