A few months ago I experienced a pretty emotional moment in parenting. I had heard from parents that this moment was coming and that it is pretty tough. Here’s how it went down. Claire had discovered this magical liquid that when blown from a special wand creates circular spheres of joy that must be chased. Claire was in her “bubble phase”. Playing bubbles had become her new favorite activity and all she wanted was bubbles…all the time.
On this particular day we gave Claire plenty of bubble time since it was an easy thing to do and she loves it so much. As we were getting ready for bath time Claire began to ask to play bubbles again. Repeatedly I said, “no”. Finally, after a few seconds of Claire continuously asking to play bubbles I once again said, “no” a little firmer and proceeded to pick her up. And that’s when it happened. I didn’t see it coming, but its effects where disarming and powerful.
As I bent down to pick Claire up she turned her little head ever so slightly in an angle towards her chest, pouted her lips in sadness and directed her eyes up towards me. It was the saddest face in the history of humanity. EVER! I literally felt my heartbreak and I choked up. My eyes got a little teary. “What is happening?!” I thought to myself. I picked Claire up and proceeded to get her to the bathtub. After I finished bathing Claire, and I had put her down to bed I told my wife what happened. I had experienced the infamous “Pouty Face”. As I said before, I had heard of the power of the Pouty Face and how tough it was to see, but wow! It was some serious stuff.
The Pouty Face is a powerful weapon in the arsenal of toddlers everywhere. Many of them use it well and get their parents to do whatever they want. I think the only reason I did not succumb to it was because I was in mid motion when it happened. I love my daughter and the pouty face she gave me was incredibly saddening and something I honestly don’t ever want to see again. I can see how easy it is for parents to break when their children give them the Pouty Face. I can see parents being so upset at this face that the kids will get whatever they want. I almost caved. I literally almost said, “The hell with bath time lets go play bubbles!”
Kids need to hear ‘no’ often. Giving into their every desire is obviously not okay and absolutely detrimental to family and society in general. Even saying ‘no’ to something good like food, pleasurable activities, bubbles etc. is necessary. Instant gratification helps no one to grow in virtue. I could share a million stories of what a 2 year old will look like after 13 years of parents saying yes to all their “Pouty Face” moments. It isn’t attractive at all.
Not. At. All.
There obviously needs to be discernment involved when saying ‘no’ to things. I’m sure this will look different with every child. My daughter may need to hear ‘no’ more often, but my next kid may not need to hear it much at all. Either way, saying ‘no’ is so important and this dad is discovering that with the infamous Pouty Face ‘no’ is not as simple as ‘no’ sounds.