May 26, 2010

The ‘n’ word.

As in ‘no’. 

Have I mentioned I’m no good at that word?  That I’m not sure of the last time that I willingly said that word?  (With exception to saying it to the children.  But that was a given.)  That any time I have to say that word I get this guilty knot in the pit of my stomach, and immediately change it to the much more loved, easy to say, non-confrontative, smile inducing ‘y’ word?

Well, I’m here to admit it.  I suck at saying no.  (I get it from my mom.  Even though when she reads this she might deny it.  But she sucks at saying no too.  It’s genetic.)


Last night Brian and I had a long conversation about the dreaded word.  And we agreed that we do, in fact, need to become more proficient at it’s use.

More specifically we talked about our boundaries and limits as foster parents.  Up until now, we have essentially taken any placement that they called us with, short of severe physical aggression.  Here are the new boundaries (still in the revision stage) and why:


  • We won’t take any more respite placements as long as we have a long term placement.  (with VERY few exceptions to kids we’ve already done respite for.)  In this case with the boys, and any other kids we have in the future, I think that the stability of not having kids in and out will be very helpful, and that we have made a commitment to them to provide them the best environment for their healing.
  • We won’t take any more emergency placements.  For two reasons.  The same as above – for stability for long term placements.  Also for stability for Sylvia and any other kids down the line – emergency placements are very disruptive and confusing, and I think that for our family that might be too much.  Also, there is the unknown.  For example is no way to know about physical aggression, which is not something we can risk with very young children in the home.
  • We also feel like we need to be more selective as to what placements are good matches for our family.  I feel like the boys we have right now are a great match.  The girls we have for emergency, however are not.  I don’t feel like I can give them what they need with this many children in the home, and that is not fair to them, the other kids, or me.
  • I can’t think of the others, but this is the gist.


The honest truth is that I feel so relieved to have discussed these boundaries.  It’s like I have permission to say no, and know that it can be a good thing!  It sounds silly, but I have found myself feeling guilty when I want to turn down a placement because it seems best for Sylvie, or when I want to turn down respite because it would be best for the other kids placed with us.  I know it’s not God giving me guilt.  Sometimes it’s like, if I don’t feel like I am completely maxed out, I don’t feel like I’m doing enough.  Like I’m giving enough.  I think it’s a mixture of symptoms I’ve picked up from broad society, church, and my own personality – and it’s no good.  It’s not godly. 

God gives me responsibilities.  He has given me my husband, Sylvia, and different children who have been with us for different amounts of time.  When he blesses me with one of these responsibilities, I need to be able to say no to other things, so that I can say yes to what he has placed in front of me.

So, changes. 

I’m not sure that this post makes a ton of sense to someone not inside my brain.  I’m not sharing just to share, or to vent, or anything else.  Mostly I’m sharing this in hopes that someone who struggles with the same ‘if I’m not losing my mind I’m not doing enough to help others’ mentality might identify, see that we’re all crazy, maybe create some boundaries of their own.  Because I’ve realized that without boundaries and limits – I’m no help to anyone!

I hope this post doesn’t discourage others from fostering.  Maybe just that it encourages honest evaluation of what God is asking.  Hope this made sense.  The end.


  1. Oh, girl! Good for you and your great big "NO!" Keep on practicing and have it ready. If you don't you'll be over-run. We don't do respite, period. You've got kids you're committed to, you've got your own little girl you must think about and you have every right in the world to say no! Just say no.

    Good for you guys willing to talk it out. Sometimes that's the hardest part. Blessings to you!

  2. Hi. I came across your blog and now have it on my blogroll. :) I recently posted on saying no--but it is called "The Creative No." Sometimes you have to say no so that you can say yes to the health of peace of your family. Prayers going up for you and your family from a new foster mom.

  3. You are so inspiring, Maggie! Love, Krista

  4. Your willingness and ability to say "no" actually makes fostering a more likely possibility for my husband and I at some point. May the Lord give you confidence and peace about the "yes" and "no" answers that will be to come.

  5. Wow. Thank you for this...just thank you. I really, really needed to hear this today.


    This isn't always from a sense of guilt, it's from a true sense of our potential. When we realize that we have the power within us to do good it is hard to sit still.

    On the flip side - Sometimes I wonder if I am being prideful, not allowing Christ to take my burdens, not trusting him to care for me and those around me?

    Then other times I just flat out don't know when to stop. I don't know when enough is enough. My husband is a huge help. Doing too much has led me into some pretty ugly meltdowns in the past.

    "No" is very good.

  7. You are doing such a good job by loving the kids that come into your home. You are NOT order to take care of the children and yourself, you need to be able to say "No" sometimes. If you over commit - everyone suffers. I love what you are doing!

  8. I love that you ended your post with the end. Also, what you said makes complete sense. I'm sorry for the long nights you guys have had and hope you get some rest soon.

  9. I know just how your feel! I am the worst at saying NO. Its really hard when it comes to placements. There are kids out there that need love and you want to give it. Sometimes its not whats best for the kids already in your care. And when you say no that becomes someones opportunity to say yes.

  10. Boundaries are healthy! And they will help you to be a better mom to Sylvia and a better foster parent. I suffer from the same "yes disease" that you do, and the guilt associated with saying no, but sometimes that is just what we need to say. When I was considering whether to adopt two girls that I fostered, a dear friend told me not to feel that I should just because "if I don't, who will??" He assured me that God had a plan. If I was to adopt, it should be because God called me to it, not because no one else stepped up. And he was right! God had two wonderful parents already selected for those girls once I said no.

  11. o trust me, you are not alone with not saying no. i have said yes to just about every call we have gotten. thankful, God stepped in and made many of these situation not work out so that I wouldn't loose my mind!!!

    i have had to learn to say no as well. i am still learning tho!


Thanks for commenting!!


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