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It's Okay To Say No

An unfortunate reality for those who are inclined to be helpful and compassionate is that they naturally become easy targets for those who have no qualms about repeatedly taking advantage of others.  Though the world is full of much goodness, it's abundantly clear that there are a significant number of people who operate without much of a conscience, and if they can repeatedly use others for their benefit, they will happily do so.  

This is precisely why I strongly believe that an essential life skill is the ability to say no to purposeful freeloaders.  Saying no can be incredibly hard for those who have been raised to be giving and kind in all circumstances - it doesn't naturally occur to such people that they are viewed as low-hanging fruit, as easy money for those who prey on kindness. 

As a parent to two boys, now 15 and 13, I find it quite challenging to help them understand what purposeful freeloading looks like while also encouraging them to keep their hearts open and be ready and willing to be helpful and compassionate.  

Above all else, I've shared with our boys that they shouldn't dismiss their own instincts about the people they meet, and if they are uncertain about a specific request, they should ask themselves if they would make the same request of another person - if the answer is no, then they should feel peace about also politely declining.  

I've also shared with our boys that in my experience, those who repeatedly take advantage of others are unlikely to change, as from their perspective, they aren't doing anything wrong.  A freeloading family member or friend sees nothing wrong about having you host or cover the bill 30 times out of 30 - in fact, they are likely to praise you for being so good to them while not wondering for a second if they are being a good family member or friend back to you.  A chronic moocher at school will skip classes, slack off, and call you a terrific study buddy as they disruptively call and text you multiple times a day as an exam or assignment deadline approaches, never once considering that they aren't being a very good buddy to you.

Perhaps not so intuitively, learning to say no and maintaining a healthy boundary with freeloaders may be the best thing we can do for such people, as doing so will at least give them a chance to learn that they shouldn't mistake kindness for weakness, and that those who experience healthy and long-lasting relationships genuinely carry with them a desire to be a source of happiness, fun, encouragement, and support for their family and friends.  Put another way, a good family member or friend is one who consistently strives to add positive energy to your life rather than continually drain your energy and resources from you.

These thoughts are not intended for freeloaders, as my experiences have shown me that most of them simply don't care about their core values and how they treat those around them.  These thoughts are for those who strive to be kind and giving and have a hard time saying no to moochers.  What an unfortunate reality it is that such decent people are naturally targeted by sociopathic and narcissistic freeloaders in our world.  If you feel it's appropriate to do so, please consider sharing some of these thoughts with children, grandchildren, and friends in your life - perhaps such a conversation is best saved for when they are in their teenage years and beyond.


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This was a compelling post and led me to think that this world has so many issues, many of which may be brought on by people believing other people should be kind, patient, understanding when in reality many are not. We can not have high expectations on how we think others should act and really should focus on how we react to them and if need be to walk away with no explanation. A no answer may actually be too good for them also. I am a firm believer in deleting someone all together from my life. Thank you!