“Mom, the new girl, Lauren, asked me to spend the night tonight. She’s so much fun. Can I? Please?” Anna asks.
Her mom’s intuition pings; her stomach twitches; she’s keenly on alert. She’s never met this girl or her parents. The risk is too high.
“Anna, I’d like to say yes, but I don’t know Lauren or her parents,” said her mom.
This response is often referred to as playing “The Mom Card.” It accepts only one outcome and requires action. Importantly, for us, and Anna’s mom, the decision can be shared gently, with compassion and empathy.
“Mom, I knew that’s what you’d say,” said Anna.
“I know you’re disappointed. I need to know you are safe, Anna,” said her mom.
“What am I going to tell Lauren? We already started making plans.”
“Tell her that because I don’t know them yet, I can’t say yes. You may invite Lauren over for an hour or two Monday morning, before your dentist appointment. There is no school and I’ll be home.”
“I hope her parents say yes,” said Anna.
“I hope so too, Anna,” said her mom with a smile.
We must never ignore or doubt our intuition. Giving our children the reasons for our decision helps them understand and process what we value. We build trust even when we can’t yes to a request.