Once Is Enough

There is little more frustrating than being asked the same question over and over and over and over. To this end, a new rule has been put into effect: “Ask one time; once is enough. Ask me twice and the answer is automatically no.”

Keep in mind, we are not referring to the forgotten questions where I was asked to get someone cocoa and forgot in all our business. No, these repeated questions have already been given an answer and addressed. My children are now asking because either I am not moving fast enough for them or they are trying to change my mind.

Once Is Enough

You know what I mean. “Mom, may I have —, please?” “Maybe.” Two minutes later…. “Mom, may I have —, please?” “I already gave you my answer.” “Oh, right!” Ten minutes later…. “Mom, did you have an answer yet? Can I have it?” “I’m still thinking about it.” The questioning goes on and on until I either give in (bad move on my part) or I get frustrated (also a bad move).

To skip both of these errors, a new rule seemed to be needed. Get my attention, ask your question, and wait for my answer. If my answer is “yes”; more power to you. If “no”; live with it. If “maybe”; wait patiently or the answer will become no.

I am not trying to avoid answering; I am not ignoring my kids. There are some decisions which require thoughtful inquiry and prayer before just popping out an answer.

On the off-chance I do fail to get back to them, I am completely open to them asking politely if I have come to a decision. My only stipulations are that they ask nicely and after I have had some little while to think the matter over or discuss it with my guy.

As a side note: I am also okay with them asking why a decision was “no”. There is nothing wrong with wanting a logical explanation. As long as they are being respectful and seeking the truth (not just being argumentative), I have no problem with this discussion.

What I am trying to avoid is the constant asking which, in my opinion, is the sister to nagging. Once your request is made known, let it be!

How many times can your kids ask for something before the asking needs to stop?


13 thoughts on “Once Is Enough

  1. Great point and with more than one of them and just one you, a necessity! I think this was something that never came up because I curbed it immediately and called it disrespect. I think this is a common problem and that your speaking about it could help others, so congratulations on this new step in self care!


  2. I totally “get this!” I started saying “yes” or “no” and stopped saying maybe,several years ago. I found the maybes just frustrated the situation. I can always change my no into a yes after thinking and praying about it, but the maybes are just too open ended and seem to lure my kids into the temptation to revisit the question again. I think the way you have handled this is really good, though. It teaches them self control. 🙂


    • I use “maybe” or “I’ll think it over” because there have been times I would have gone either way, but their father had a completely different reaction. I do not want to give an answer and find myself in the wrong. When I know what his answer would be, I feel free to give one; if not, we wait.


  3. We have a similar rule! I saw it a while back on another blog (can’t remember which one) – “Asked, Answered!” You’ve asked and I have given answer. When they ask again I say, “Asked, Answered!” End of conversation! If they asked again the answer changes to no.


  4. Once, that’s it, twice if I’m clearly in the middle of something and they wait until I’m done to ask again. If I’m nagged or harassed about it, or if the question is asked in a whining tone, the answer is no. Generally I only say no or tell them to wait when I have a legitimate reason, so I expect that to be respected, and asking to understand why is almost always okay. The only exception is when I’m clearly at the end of my rope. Some days I really just need some space.


  5. I agree with you! Our daughter is allowed to also ask politely for the reason of a “no” answer. She say: “yes, mommy/daddy. May I ask why?” And so we go ahead and explain. She’s so used to this that we rarely have a complaint about our answer :). (Samara)


  6. I love this rule and am going to implement it! It is wonderful to know I am not the only one fighting this battle! I agree with you on the exceptions to the rule but will need to make sure I am making concessions for those reasons only. It is too easy to get frustrated or distracted and end up giving the wrong impression of the boundary.


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