Knowing Your Limitations

Purposeful Parent Tip: The shortest word in the English language is “No”.

Recently my daughter came home with paperwork regarding tryouts for her middle school play. She was very excited and wanted to learn more about the play’s characters so she could determine which one she should try out for. I explained each of the characters and gave a suggestion or two into which ones I thought she might enjoy the most. What happened over the next week surprised even me.

The tryout for the play was to consist of a one-minute solo for those characters requiring singing. My daughter began to think about the songs she might sing. “Should I do a pop song or one of the songs from the play?” she asked me. My advice to her was to select a song that she could really shine at in the limited amount of time for the tryout.

Days went by and no song had been selected. As the date for the tryout was fast approaching, I wondered why she hadn’t chosen a song. Her response left me speechless.

In a nutshell, she told me that while she wanted to try out for the play, she felt that she was taking on too much. She’d just started middle school and was getting acclimated to her schedule, additional homework, and her participation in band, having to learn a new instrument. She also was starting her basketball season as well as CCD class. She realized that having the added responsibility of having to learn lines and attend rehearsals would simply be too much for her and her goal was to do really well academically.

As I stood there listening to her explanation, all I could think about was if she is learning this oh-so-valuable lesson at eleven years old, how much further along she is going to be as an adult. To be able to know your limitations, to say ‘no’ in order to take care of you and ensure you can accomplish the main goals you set out to do, is huge.

I told her that I was proud of her, not just for recognizing the potential for taking on too much, but for figuring this all out on her own – not one peep of input from me. She inherently knew what her limitations were, and chose not to pile on additional stress risking not accomplishing her vision of a great first report card.

This is a lesson I teach in my SuperMom Syndrome workshop – the need for busy, overwhelmed moms to say ‘no’ to things they don’t have time for and really don’t have a passion for either. I also teach them that if their inability to say ‘no’ is guilt-driven, then all the more reason to say ‘no’. We do not need more guilt!

I wish I could’ve recorded my daughter’s response that day and played it for the busy moms who attend my workshops. Perhaps they would see that they too can say no without guilt and without reservation.

The play starts soon and my daughter wants to go see it. Perhaps next year, when things settle down a bit more, she will decide to try out again. And if not, I’m certain it will be her decision and it will be the right one.

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