Women (I lead the pack) can be notoriously hard to invite to dinner. Here’s what happens. Friend A calls friend B and says, “Can you come for dinner Saturday night?”

Friend B joyfully says, “Yes, what can I bring?”

Friend A answers, “Nothing, thank you.” Then the trouble starts.

Friend A brought something to Friend B’s last time, so she insists on evening the score and bringing a dish to the friend A’s dinner party. After friend B tells her that she insists on bringing a dish, an exasperated friend A says, “No, I have everything we need. You really don’t need to bring anything!” One more plea from friend B and finally friend A throws her hands up and relents to asking her to bring cheese and crackers.

Conversations between two friends are mysterious and complex. Unfortunately, many of us women make them more complex than need be. If we simply listened to the adage in Mark’s gospel about making our ‘Yes be Yes and our No be No,’ we could free ourselves and our friends from much turmoil. Let’s practice doing just that.

To begin, when a friend tells us, “No, thank you,” decide to believe her. Maybe she really means it. Maybe she really doesn’t want you to bring cheese and crackers and you are annoying her with your persistence. Then we can do something else. We can begin using those three words more frequently to simplify our lives.

Let’s face it, many women (particularly mothers) are eager to please friends, family and kids. I get it. I’m a friend and mom. But every time we please others by saying “yes,” it costs us something. So we must ask ourselves, “Is saying yes to this request going to take so much out of me that I will be a worse mother or worse friend?”

Most of us rarely think of that cost; we simply feel it after we do what we agreed to do. Then we are irritable, tired, overextended and frustrated.

So let’s not do this.

The next time someone asks you to do something (even if it’s one of your kids asking you to drive him somewhere), think of the cost to you. Then think of the cost to others who have to deal with a frustrated, tired, and resentful you. Do you really want to live that way and do you want to be that mother/friend/wife/person? There are many things we have no choice in doing but many others where we do have a choice.

Join me in practicing the words, “No, thank you.”

I just told a trusted colleague that I couldn’t get on a plane and attend an important meeting. I still feel a bit unsettled, but — got to do it.

I need some company. So how about it?

Dr. Meg Meeker has practiced pediatrics and adolescent medicine for 30 years. She is the author of the online course, “The 12 Principles of Raising Great Kids,” part of The Strong Parent Project.

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