How To Say No To Your Children

I give you permission to say NO to your children.  Yes, I said it, you can say NO and still be a great parent.  It seems to be quite a novel idea these days, don’t you think?  And it isn’t that I am against children, I can use some of my own advice when it comes to my dog.  I’ve just met with too many women who are in debt, and when we go through their spending, it all revolves around their children.  I know mothers will do anything for their children, and you want what is best for them.  But what if spending so much money on all their wants (not needs) is putting your own finances in jeopardy?  What if new sneakers every month is putting you further into debt?  At some point, you won’t be able to buy them anything. 

It isn’t just with our children either.  If we are always overly generous, we run the risk of hurting our own finances.  Once we put our own money at risk, we won’t be able to help anyone, which isn’t your goal at all.  So before you give, give, and give, first make sure you are taken care of.  Think of it like the airplane safety videos, they always say to put your mask on first and then help those around you.  So put your safety mask on your money first and then you can give in a planned way and remain on track towards your financial goals. 

A colleague and friend of mine has some great insights into saying NO to your children, or really anyone in your life.  Joan Geiger is a mediator, and mostly deals with divorce mediation, so some of her tips go along with co-parenting.  Even if you aren’t divorced, her tips work well to help get you and your spouse on the same page with parenting in general.  So enough of the buildup, here they are:


  1. Say NO to your children.
    1. Kids do fine without participating in every sport or activity they want to the extent they want to or have in the past.
    2. Kids do fine with limited college choices. Just because they can get into a school doesn’t mean it is affordable. Many kids do fine at county college or a state school.
    3. Most kids do not need a parent home full time. Some exceptions can be infants; special needs children; or where the cost of daycare exceeds the income you would earn.
    4. Kids do fine in aftercare and day camps. Conversely, they do not have to be at sleep away camp all summer.
    5. Staying in the marital home and keeping the kids in the same schools is sometimes not affordable and tough choices have to be made.  For example, if a parent works long hours to keep the house and is exhausted maintaining it, it may be better to move.

Most parents want to give their kids everything they had before the divorce – but most times this is unrealistic. What kids need and deserve is co-parenting. That will serve them better in the long run than material things.     

A great option is to give your children an incentive to work towards their goals.  If they save x amount of money for a game they want, you can match their savings by 25%.  Or for every dollar they save, you match it by 10%.  It will teach your children to value money, about savings and matching, and that they won’t always get what they want in life.  Another option is to have them do extra chores to get a new phone, so they know hard work really does pay off.  Be creative with it and have some fun with your children, then it won’t seem so bad saying no.  You probably just need to get that first NO off your chest.  Remember you are doing them a service by saying no every once in a while.  They might not think of it that way at first, but if you can wait 15-20 years, they will eventually say thank you.  And it will be worth the wait.

For more information about Joan, you can go to or by emailing her at

You’re first NO might be difficult, but I’ve found it comes easier with practice.  Practice does make perfect after all.  And it won’t be the end of your child’s life if you say no, although they will try to convince you it is.  So here is your prescription from an expert: 

You are allowed to say no to your children and still be a great parent.

Embrace the NO!
Jessica Weaver, CFP®, CDFA™, CFS®
Wealth Advisor

Any opinions are those of Jessica Weaver and not necessarily those of RJFS and Raymond James.  Expressions of opinions are as of this date and are subject to change without notice.
Raymond James is not affiliated with and does not endorse the opinions and services of Joan Geiger.
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