Tuesday, 22 March 2016

The Best Advice I ever got about my Daughter's Anxiety Condition..

Just enjoy her more...

Anxiety is a funny thing. Well, not haha-funny, but as an illness it walks that fine line between a condition one may deal with forever and one that can conceivably be ‘fixed’--or at least that is what was stuck in my mind after we learned my daughter had an anxiety condition known as Selective Mutism.

For those of you who are not familiar with it, here's the lowdown…Selective Mutism is a childhood anxiety disorder that manifests in certain social settings where a child is completely unable to speak or communicate. Children with this condition generally speak comfortably in familiar settings and with familiar people, but then completely 'freeze' and experience intense anxiety in settings outside their comfort zone. In the case of my daughter, she is able to speak (and act) freely in our home and in the homes of several friends and family members, but she has not spoken in school in over a year. Of course this presents all sorts of challenges for her including not being able to ask to go to the bathroom (this has led to bladder issues), not being able to participate in any activity
requiring speech, and subsequent social struggles. She has made small improvements in this time, but her biggest hurdle continues to be talking to adults, particularly in the school environment. This is fairly typical of her condition, but every case will present slightly differently.

My daughter’s condition first came to our attention when she started preschool, and my notion was that she was just ‘shy’ and would speak ‘normally’ once she had had a few weeks to warm up to the school thing. I’ll spare you the details, but we tried all sorts of things to coax her into speaking at school, particularly to her teachers. However, everything we did just seemed to make it worse. As a parent, I grew more and more desperate for her to just speak so she could just get on and enjoy school as I had envisioned she would. I became quietly obsessed with ‘fixing’ the situation, drawing her out of her shyness, thinking that if I just bribed or encouraged or coaxed her in just the right way, I would draw her out of her funk. This time was not a highlight in our relationship, and that is why I am exceedingly thankful for a phone call I got from a school counselor that would forever change how I approached this issue with my daughter…She called from school one Monday afternoon to discuss Selective Mutism and the best strategies to deal with it (FYI: specifically not bribing, coaxing, or pressuring). The conversation strayed from being entirely professional, and this woman ended up tearfully telling me about her own daughter who had struggled with anxiety. “I wish we had just enjoyed her more,” she said. Those words stuck with me.

I remember one time going to a birthday party with my daughter, one of those ad nauseum princess-theme parties with princess cupcakes, princess decorations, princess music, princess costumes—in short, her five year-old version of paradise! At one point, the real live Princesses Anna and Elsa showed up for a photo op that I would never forget.  Seeing them the group of girls swooned while my daughter completely physically froze, turned beet red, and tears welled up in her wide eyes and I all but dragged her into the group shot with the princesses. Later I tearfully relayed this story to my husband as I showed him the picture I had dutifully taken, “It was like she was watching her dream come true, but she couldn’t participate,” I said. To me, her face was the very picture of her anxiety condition.

Later at bedtime, as is our family custom, I was asking my kids what the highlight of their day was. “Meeting the princesses!!” she said without a moment’s hesitation and with every ounce of enthusiasm you’d expect from a little girl who’d just met their childhood idol. Just enjoy her more, I had to remind myself.

Later that week, my daughter ran into the house after school, pulled a princess-envelope out of her backpack, and ripped it open in excited haste. “Look mommy! Me and the princesses!” she said. In her hands she proudly holds a picture, the same picture actually, that I’d shed tears over just a few days earlier—to her, just a picture of that awesome moment when she’d met some real-live princesses!

 “How cool is that Genevieve!” I said as I proudly stuck it front and center on our fridge. Just enjoy her more, the words came back to me. As is often the case, my daughter was way ahead of me on that one.

I’m thankful to be past the point on this journey where I’m waiting some fix so that I can start enjoying my daughter--to that end, one might always be waiting on something or other. There is joy every single day in that little girl’s life, and no one knows that better than her.  It seems ridiculous to me now that I was missing out that and sobering to consider that my attitude may have been influencing her otherwise. Don’t get me wrong, not a day goes by that I don’t wish her struggle would just vaporize, but in the meantime, there is no shortage of things to celebrate. So, wherever this finds you on your parenting journey, let this be your reminder to just enjoy your little people more

Monday, 21 March 2016

The Wife Strike

Periodically in my marriage, I go on strike. This could be for a variety of causes—housework, bedtime duty, the running of our social calendar—in short, anything that I suddenly feel like I’m doing more than my fair share of. To give you an example, and this is by far the most common at our house, every so often I initiate what I call the ‘conversation strike.’ It begins in my head where I’m like, ‘I am sick of being the one to start conversations in this house. For fifteen years, I have been the one starting the conversations. Where would this marriage be without my conversation-starting?’ and progresses almost immediately to strike-action, ‘I'm going wait. I am just going sit here and wait. I am going to wait for him start a conversation, and we'll just see how long it takes.' Well, I won't bore you with the specifics, but it inevitably goes down something like this...

Thursday 8 pm. I commence conversation strike. He is oblivious. 15 minutes pass. I silently get irritated. He is oblivious. 15 more minutes pass. I get angrier. He is oblivious and maybe even a little happy for the unexpected peace. 15 more minutes of silence. Steam shoots out my ears and my face turns a little purple. He is oblivious. Thursday 8:45 pm. I explode.
Me: How can you just SIT there?
Him: Sit where?
Me: Just sit silently and NOT SAY A WORD?
Him: Uh, I thought we were watching a show.?
Me: So you would just happily sit there watching a show and not care if we don't have a conversation?
Him: Well, yea..??
Me: So if we never had a conversation again, you'd be okay with that? Because that's what would happen if we left it up to you...

And so it goes.

Now, I should probably clarify that I am married to a wonderful man—a wonderful man of remarkably few words-- and even though I will own my own bit of crazy in this situation, I am actually probably right about one thing...If it were up to him, we would have virtually no (or certainly significantly less) conversation. I won't go as far as to claim that conversation in itself is a virtue, and god knows it wouldn't hurt for me to shut up occasionally, but you do need some for a marriage to be successful, hence my frustration.

I should also tell you that my husband rarely initiates these types of strikes in our relationship. There could be a number of reasons for this. One might be that I am a totally perfect wife who always pulls her weight in our relationship. Possible?.  Another might be that the one time he went on a 'cleaning the van strike'--well, it wasn't pretty. We're talking a year's worth of kiddy crumbs, wrappers, rotting fruits, diapers, sippy cups with milk in the hot sun—actually let's not go there. You'll just have to take my word for it that what he was able to gain through strike action was not worth the price tag. Or maybe, just maybe, the wonderful man I share my life with just gets it. Perhaps he gets that marriage is not 50/50, a notion that I occasionally get myself hung up on. It is more than that. It 100/100. That is to say, what you bring to the table of your marriage--your gifts--you bring them 100%. And your partner should do the same. So where I bring my gift to carry conversation, he might bring his gift to listen, or where I may use my culinary gifts to feed the members of this household, he might use his gifts as a financial wizard to keep things going in that department (God help us if he ever goes on finance strike!) And the fact we both bring different things to the table actually serves our marriage well, far better than what would result if my strike action were to ever actually succeed in equalizing everything in a 50/50 orientation. Case in point…imagine if my husband brought 'conversation' to our marriage table in quantities similar to those I bring. Well, there wouldn't be enough hours in the day nor ears to listen. Or if I were to try to match his flair for organization and filing tit for tat, well that would just be overkill, and our systems would probably just end up clashing anyways. Now, no doubt, there’s a place for sharing or rearranging the lode if one of us becomes dissatisfied with the going arrangement, but perhaps the 100/100 model is something I will try to keep mind as we navigate this partnership forward.

I’d love to finish this off by telling you that this little insight will translate into a permanent cessation of strike action on my part, but I would probably be lying. Marriage can be frustrating, wonderful, and crazy but, above-all else, it is a never-ending work in progress. He has not annoyed me for the last time, nor I him. I have not acted crazy (I assure you it always entirely justifiable) for the last time, and he will not be the perfect husband tomorrow or next year, but, if I’m truthful, I would have to say that I think we are both bringing everything we have every single day. 100%. And I’m mostly good with that, and days when I’m not? Well, I’m pretty sure there’s enough love to see us through.♥♥♥

Thursday, 17 March 2016

'A platitude is a platitude is a platitude'--Quotes from a young Canadian prime minister

platitude: noun  plat·i·tude  \ˈpla-tə-ˌtüd, -ˌtyüd\  a statement that expresses an idea that is not new
2:  a banal, trite, or stale remark [i]

Do you pay attention to Canadian politics? Is this ringing any bells? If not, this is probably your cue to stop reading, but if you're having as much trouble listening to the sweet nothings of our new prime minister as I am, I dedicate this to you--maybe a little humour will help to get you through the next four to eight years??? You know, hand on my heart, I have been trying to give the guy a chance. After all, we are stuck with him for the time being, but, try as I might, I just can’t get on board with (or hide from) the contrived, fluffy stuff he says. Now, of course, one can make the argument that everyone spouts a meaningless platitude now and again, and, god knows, if you dug around or followed me with a microphone and camera for several years, there would be some serious doozies, but, the thing is…there was no digging required! Our mainstream media is all over this stuff! They eat up every banal word, spin it to his glory, and regurgitate it at every possible juncture. To me it seems that they are in complete solidarity with our young prime minister in his mission to tag a one-liner that will go down in the history books right next to his father’s famed ‘state-in-bedroom’ quote.   Well, to his credit (and my chagrin), there is no shortage of material…

1. (World Economic Forum in Davos, January 2016) “My predecessor wanted you to know Canada for its resources. Well, I want you to know Canada for our resourcefulness.” Just imagine this scene down at the auction…‘Investors, don’t push and shove. Get your pocketbooks and paddles ready. We are now taking bids on… let me see, did I read this correctly? Yes. We are now taking bids on ‘resourcefulness’. I’ll start the bidding at 1$. Who’ll give me 1$...’

2. (When questioned on the gender parity of his newly appointed cabinet, November 2015) “Because it’s 2015.”  The left just loved this one! How clever of Mr. Trudeau!  In just 3 short words, he was able to put all gender inequality in politics to right! Bravo. Now, if I held any of those cabinet positions, that would have felt more like a petulant pat on the head to me, possibly like my position was more a reflection of his cheap political branding than my actual qualifications, but who’s counting anyway, in these days of…

3. “Sunny ways, my friends. Sunny ways.” (Victory speech a Liberal election headquarters, October 2015). Interestingly, this quote is so impactful that apparently it bears using twice! The original Mr. Sunshine is actually Sir Wilfred Laurier…and yet, it’s meaning in any sort of pragmatic sense is still so lost on me.

4. In that same speech on election night, Trudeau stressed that Canadians had voted for “change in this country. Real change.” As opposed the last election…where they voted for stagnancy and ‘fake change’??? Incidentally, hasn’t every change of government in this country’s 150 year history been a vote for change? I wonder how many times this largely meaningless notion has won someone an election? Probably, on average, once every 4 to 8 years. ‘Change’ could mean anything, and, like any decent platitude, it expresses a concept that is banal, trite, and certainly not new.
5. (Press conference in the immediate aftermath of Paris attacks) Prime Minister Trudeau promises that Canada will offer “all possible assistance.” This might not have been strictly a platitude if it hadn’t been a complete lie.

6. (On smoking weed as an MP, August 2013) “I used it. Maybe five or six times in my life.” And for this he made no apologies. Now, regardless of your position on marijuana, isn’t it at least significant that the would-be prime-minister not only broke a law, but a criminal one, and had the gall to flout it to the Canadian public? To me, that shows enormous disrespect. Should all Canadians pick and choose willy-nilly which criminal laws we choose to follow and then broadcast these sorts of things righteously and publicly?

7. “I don’t read the newspapers, I don’t watch the news. If something important happens, someone will tell me.” (February 2001) An oldie but a goldie! Why would an aspiring politician keep abreast of current events and make their own judgments about them when other people can do that for him? I can’t think of any reason.

8. (At the US state dinner with Barack Obama, March 2016) “Fear is easy. Friendship? Friendship takes work.” Bravo. Good point, I think. I am just wondering what that means as it applies to any sort of policy, agreement, or legislation, or are you referring to the ‘work’ it took to create a media circus centering around the notion of the ‘Trubama bromance’? You know, this gets me more than anything. In a collectively dire time for both countries, does it do us proud that nearly all the coffee talk and most news headlines on this event centered around celebrity and photo ops? If this is what the Canadian public wants, no wonder they didn’t like Harper.

9. This is the same speech where JT, in his patented over-emphatic and pregnated with painful pause- for-effect style, stated, “There is no relationship in the entire world quite like the Canada/US relationship.” Cue applause. The same could be said about the Norway/Sweden relationship, or Smarties and M&M’s for that matter. What’s your point? Platitudinous, as usual.

10. “Canada doesn’t need empty rhetoric on the Arctic.” (September 2015) BAM! I couldn’t have put it better myself! Canada doesn’t need empty rhetoric on anything actually. Except…that, of course we must! We have elected our highest ranking official to provide plenty of it after all…empty rhetoric, like…

11. “We beat fear with hope.” (Victory speech October 2015) Oh, I think I might have thrown up a little in my mouth, because all those conservative voters out there couldn’t possibly have cast their vote based on something concrete like, say, a solid economic platform. Nope, they were all just spineless and scared. And now we can get down to the serious business of enacting some ‘hope’ and ‘change’ legislation.

I guess this long and, by-no-means-comprehensive list just begs one question…With all the stuff this guy comes out with, how will the history books ever even choose just one quote or two will adequately encapsulate all the fine qualities of this dynamic, young leader? I know I am struggling ;-)

[i] "Platitude." Merriam-Webster.com. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 14 Mar. 2016.

Monday, 14 March 2016

Three Things your Parents said that You Need to Start Saying More

We parents live in a complicated world. If the trending parenting experts are to be believed, we may all  be but one linguistic error away from a lifetime's worth of therapy bills for our children. For example, you wouldn't want your words to imply in any way that your son was disrespectful when he stomped on his sister's mother's day craft, so you are sure to specify that, though his behavior was disrespectful, he, as a person, is still wonderful, worthy, and entirely lovable.  Just in case all events leading up to this had made that unclear. Or you must remember to preface every item of constructive feedback (formerly criticism) with at least two praise phrases in order to thwart any propensity toward under-achievement. And heaven forbid, you call his private parts by the wrong name—lifetime of gender identity issues, for sure! Tsk tsk.
In short, if the trending parenting experts are anything to be believed, our parents had it all wrong. Their reckless use of language coupled with the sheer abandon with which they doled out all manners of punishment (oh, that nasty, nasty word) have indeed left their ugly scar on our entire generation—one that we will spend the next 40 years healing and that we will surely not pass on to our children. Well, maybe I'm exaggerating just a tad. Or maybe, just maybe, we have a thing or two to learn from our parents’ simplistic and lackadaisical use of the English language as it applies to everyday parenting. Consider the three following short but sweet phrases that you probably heard from your parents a time of two. I’m going to take the position that maybe they have their place in parenting after all and, who knows, might even serve to make your life a little easier.

1. Because I said so—Remember that one? 'We're going to church, kids.' 'But why, dad?' 'Because I said so.' (Cue whining) I can’t wait to try this one on! I'm going to consider this my permission to not feel obliged to engage in 10 minute unpleasant and largely pointless arguments every time one of my kids asks a 'why' question. Like...
'Toys stay out of the kitchen.' 'But, why, mom?' 'Because I said so.' Or
'No lego in mommy and daddy's room.' 'Why not? Because I said so.' Or, how about?
'Don’t bother packing any devices to take to the cabin.' 'Why?’ ‘Hmm. Lemme think. Oh, because I said so.'
Give your kids some credit! 99% of the time, when they ask a ‘why’ question of this variety, they already know the answer. They just don’t like it, so unless you’re open to negotiation, invest your breath on something else. Why not try this? ‘…because I said so. Hey, how did your presentation go today?’ If you think about it, you’ll be doing them a favor. Asserting that you do not always need to justify your agenda to others will encourage them to do the same.

2. No.  What a great word. NO! Oops, did I already say that? And as a f*ck you to all the modern parenting expert voices in my head that have never really allowed me to enjoy its power...NO, no, no no, no, no, no, and NOOOOOO! Aaaah, that feels good! NOOOOOOOOO!!
In all seriousness though, I think that the taboo around the word 'no' in our generation of parents is of serious disservice to our children. I've said it before, but I'll say it again. 'No'...our children need to say it, mean it, hear it, and heed it. It is beautifully powerful and certain.
'Hey mom, can we get a playstation?' 'No. It's expensive and bad for you.'
'Hey mom, can we watch a movie when JJ gets here?' 'No, it's a beautiful day.'
'Hey mom, can I go to the Bieber concert?' 'Nope.'

If reasoning fails you when the inevitable 'whys' start flying back at you, refer to point 1, and with any luck, they will have the courage to answer in kind when...
Hey, Oliver, do you want a puff? or
Genevieve, if you sneak out, I'll pick you around the corner at 11...

3.  You're fine.  Remember when you scraped your back on that barbed-wire fence, and your mom had a quick look and replied quite plainly, 'You're fine.'?
Well, there is a trend in modern parenting that, for lack of a better term, I will coin watering trauma. The way I see it, when parents over-react in whatever way to a situation--and this can be anything from long counselling sessions about today’s disagreement over toy-sharing, to extended explanations for regular daily occurrences to extensively coddling screaming and crying, you are watering what may well be just an ordinary childhood hurt and growing it into a trauma. Now, don't misunderstand me, I'm not talking ignoring abuse or implying that one should NEVER coddle or reassure their child...I'm talking about things like this…
'Oh, you didn't get your hot lunch money in on time, and you won't get pizza next Thursday? You're fine.'
'You didn't get to sit in your favorite chair beside daddy today at breakfast? I’ll check your pulse, but I’m pretty sure you're fine. Maybe tomorrow.' or
'Your sister got two turns in a row in the pink booster seat? You're fine. Go play'

I could go on and on, but, in my opinion, the longer you engage in these types of interactions, the more you are reinforcing to your child that these things really are a big deal and worthy of getting upset over. And, let’s face it, this world leaves no shortage of things to get upset about, so, if the going situation doesn’t matter so much, let your words and engagement reinforce that.

As a rule, I would say that as parent I am acting on one of two things:
  1. The best interests of my kids, and
  2. My own sanity, which, let’s face it, is also in the best interest of my kids.
So with that in mind, I’m just going to swallow my guilt, stuff down that feeling that I’m messing up my kids with every minor semantic error, and I’m going to simplify. Yeah, that’s right, I’m going try on the careless language of my parents’ generation. Maybe it will go down something like this…

O: Hey Mom, can I pack the Ipad to take to the cabin?
Me: No. (note: not in my best interest)
O: Why not?
Me: Because I said so.
O: But I'll get bored.
Me: You'll be fine.
O: But, last time we...
Me: (breaking into spontaneous song) This is a song that never ends♪♪
O: …but you said…
Me: It goes on and on my friends! Some people started singing it...♫

What’s the worst that can happen?

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

JJ throw sand, JJ go home--Parenting with limits

I'm at a park one day with the kids, and the lunch hour is nearing.  There's another mom and (my best guess) her 3 year-old son playing on the swings. Mom suggests they need to go home soon. They go through the 5 minute, 2 minute, and last minute warnings and then blow straight through their projected leaving time. This progresses to mom offering 'one last slide' which the toddler takes to mean one last slide, one last swing, one last monkey bar, one run around the tree AND one last dig in the sandpit. Mom then says, “OK, time to go now, JJ,” and this is inevitably met with tears and protests. Mom then goes into explaining how they have to go so mom can make lunch, and they can have sandwiches, “You like sandwiches, don't you JJ?” I'm not a creep so I totally wasn't watching judgmentally while this whole scene unfolded, but I believe it ended when JJ threw sand in mom's face seconds before she hauled him off to the stroller. I can only assume she'd reached her limit.

Limits. I'm no expert, but today I have few things to say about kids and limits.

Limits are learned through example, and there is no correct limit. Though it may sound otherwise, I am not judging the actions of this woman at the park. She would have been no less or no more of a mom if she'd hauled JJ's ass out after the last minute warning or waited until she convinced him to go on his own accord. She would have just been setting a different limit. But, I will say this about my very generous interpretation of the whole situation, actions speak louder than words! And what JJ took from this situation was not anything about leaving the park at a reasonable time so that mommy could make lunch, what JJ learned was, “JJ throw sand in mommy's face, JJ go home.” More accurately, he learned what mommy's limit was, and, for better or worse, he will take that forward when going to set his own limits in the future. I know in my own life, my 5 and 7-year old have been struggling with the old 'who-gets-the-pink-booster-seat' quandary. This had been dragging on and on and had come to the point where we needed to address it. As far as I could tell, there were a few ways to go about this...We could let them argue for as long as it took to figure it out. My best guess is that that would result in blood and last no less than 30 minutes. We could take turns. We could employ the 'you sit where I say you sit' method, or we could assign permanent booster seats. Now, again, I'm not suggesting this is the correct solution, but we opted for the taking turns approach. That is the ‘limit’ we chose to set on this occasion, and for us, it is the compromise between them having a say in the location of their ass in our vehicle and our own patience/time when it comes to dealing with the issue. Don't get me wrong, there is still plenty of disagreement as to who sat where last and for how long they sat there, but for now this is something we can all live with. Now, I will be clear, I see nothing wrong with parents who assign permanent booster seats so as to avoid the bickering entirely, and I can also entertain the merits of letting them hash it out on their own...However long it takes…Whatever blood is shed…While you wait and wait and wait. Having said that…

The length of your tether is not directly proportional to your virtuousness. If I put that in the context of limits, I might say, one is no more (or no less) virtuous just because it takes longer to reach their limit. We've all met a parent or two whose patience seem endless--the ones at daycare pick-up with that perma -smile on their face, even as they remind their child for the 20th time that it's time to put on their shoes, those that keep smiling and speaking in the gentlest of voices while their child throws their vegetables on the floor AGAIN. 'Peas stay on our plates, sweetie.' Or better (worse?) yet, the ones who have seemingly endless time to engage with their kids in conflict-resolution strategies whenever there is a tussle over a toy, say. No doubt, patience is a virtue, and there are all kinds on wonderful lessons to be learned from engaging in a situation this way, but let’s not forget the getting-shit-done-and-meaning-what-you-say-the-first-time virtue. I have a tremendous amount of respect (and maybe a little jealousy) when I see a child who doesn't need reminding when their parent has asked them to put their shoes on, or who quite simply puts an end to what might be a painful and time-consuming conflict-resolution process with the simple words, “We share our toys.” Again, I'm not suggesting one is better than the other, just that these types of parents set different but comparably valuable limits.

Having no limits is just plain dangerous. Though I have ventured to not place too much value on the types of limits one sets for their kids, I will say this...DO set limits. Whatever they are. A quote from my own father, by some measures the most experienced dad I have ever met…“Kids need limits. Kids thrive with limits.” And he is absolutely right. Limits are those things which make kids feel safe physically and emotionally. They make life predictable, help us the develop good habits, and altogether help us navigate successfully through the variety of social and occupational situations we encounter throughout our lives. For instance, if parents set a 'bedtime before 830 on a school night' limit, this limit not only serves to make the bedtime hour more manageable and predictable, but it is hugely responsible for the readiness of that child to learn the next day and, further down the road, helping that child as an adult to make responsible decisions such that they are able to be at work on time and be a productive participant in their career of choice. On the flip side, and I haven't seen this type of the thing very often, but I was once on a play date with a few moms, and an incident occurred where one child choked another child. When this was met with a mere eyebrow raise and a flippant comment about how, ‘he was just kidding’ from the offending child’s mom, at first, I felt certain rage on behalf of the choke-ee and her mom, but, on further reflection, I also felt very sorry for the little boy. Apparently, for him there are no limits when engaging in dangerous behavior, and one can’t help but wonder what life will look like for him going forward.  

‘No’ is the most valuable limit your child will ever learn. Kids need to be comfortable with the word ‘No.’ They need to say it, mean it, hear it and heed it, in no particular order. I draw attention to this specifically because in my years of parenting, I have certainly noticed a trend toward not saying ‘No’ to a child as if the word is somehow negative or needs to be dressed up in some flowery way. I think I have even seen and read articles entitled something like, “10 things to say to your child instead of No” but I can't stress enough what a great disservice this is to our children.  I could go on and on and on, but I will leave it at this...Would you want your college-age daughter (or son) going to a frat party where no one had ever heard the word ‘no’? Me neither.

You don’t always need to justify your limit. It is easy to get caught up providing lengthy explanations to our children as to why we have chosen to set such and such limit (God knows they demand to know…'Why, Mom?’) and though there are plenty of situations where is this absolutely necessary and appropriate, I’m going to take this opportunity to remind you that limits are set more powerfully by action. Oftentimes words can actually take away from the clarity of a limit, and whatever your age, it is easy to get backed into a corner in these types of conversations. Imagine this:
FunFriend: Hey, it’s ladies night at ClubX on Thursday. Male strippers! Wanna come?
You: I don’t think I’ll make it.
FunFriend: Why?
You: I have to work early on Friday.
FunFriend: So do I. Come on, it’s just one night.
You: Nah, it’s not really my thing.
FunFriend: Why do you have something against strippers?
You: I don’t know. I’ve never been.
FunFriend: All the more reason!
You: I’m too broke to go out anyway.
FunFriend: There’s no cover. I’ll buy you a drink. I don’t want to go by myself and, hunky Jack is bartending.
You: I don’t think I have the car that night, anyway.
FunFriend: Great, I’ll pick you up, and you can buy the drinks next time. Bye

So, I’m going to propose that the actual reason you didn’t want to go to Club X is of no consequence. The point was that you said you weren’t going, and the rest of the conversation just served to confuse that.
When it comes to setting a limit with your children, maybe in some cases you have done so for the betterment of their health or safety, or maybe sometimes you have set a limit because you desire to teach them to be respectful of other people, or maybe you needed to set a ‘no-toys upstairs’ limit because you are just sick of the noise and the mess. The point is, you don’t always need to provide an explanation, just as you wouldn’t want your kids to have to always feel obliged to provide an explanation when they have set a limit. So let’s try this again…

You don’t always need to justify your limit. Period.

And finally…No brainer, but limits are most successful when you enforce them consistently. The other morning my son asked me if he could play on my phone while he waited for the bus. In my rush around to get lunches ready and breakfast cleared away, I absent-mindedly replied, “Sure.” My husband says, “Yesterday you said no screen time on weekdays??” And, I totally had. And this is why we are ALWAYS fighting about screen time. And when I have some magical parenting tip as to how one enforces limits consistently, I will totally get back to you, but I’m pretty sure I’m right not wrong in saying it.

So yea, wherever this finds you on your parenting journey today, I wish you the best of luck. Don’t mistake any of this as advice given from some position of superiority. I’m too busy sucking out at these types of things to judge you. All the best.