Tonight my 8 year old son was nominated by a friend to do the ALS Ice bucket challenge. For a while now he’s been watching his friends participate, and now that it was his turn, he was so excited. “I want to do it right now!” he exclaimed when he saw the video of his friend saying she nominates him. So I agreed he could do it now, even though it was already past his bedtime, and I went off to get the ice.
When I came out one of his friends was hysterical and fighting back tears “No, please don’t make me do it!” “What’s going on out here?” I asked them. She said to me “He’s going to nominate me and I .. just.. I really don’t want to!” at this point she was balling. This little girl is the daughter of a close friend of mine and as such I am very comfortable talking to her about a wide variety of subjects, more than that I care very deeply about her and want to help her whenever I can. I dropped down to my knees and wrapped her up in a hug and said “I want you to listen to me very closely. You never have to do anything your friends say you have to, if you don’t want to. Whether it’s dumping a bucket of ice on your head or any thing else, you can ALWAYS say no.” Then I sat all the kids down and had a good conversation with them, briefly explaining what ALS is, why it’s important that people care about it, and that even if you think a person should do something they always have the choice to say no.
My son also nominated his 5 year old brother to do the challenge, he said “no”. Before we went to bed, we again discussed his friend and his brother turning his challenge down. I told him “I’m proud of you for being brave and taking on the challenge and for caring about others, but always remember that even if you think another person should do something, they can always turn you down and you have to accept their ‘no’. No one, including you, has to do something because their friends think they should.”