Hangups about saying ‘no’

“My middle school-age daughter is getting a cell phone this summer. We made her wait until she was entering the 7th grade, and the time without a phone has allowed her to see some of the pitfalls her friends have fallen into.

“She asked how to handle if someone asks for her cell number whom she does not want to have it. She knows that some kids would potentially text her all day long or would not think twice about sharing her cell number with others. She also doesn’t want to hurt someone’s feelings when they ask.

“At first, I suggested she could blame it on her father and me, and say we didn’t allow her to give out her number. It doesn’t seem like a completely realistic response. Can you help us come up with a response that would not be off-putting and that my daughter would be comfortable saying?”

The sooner any of us can learn to say “no” comfortably, the better; attempts to avoid hurting feelings have to be among the greatest causes of hurt feelings. Any ideas to get this middle-schooler started?

- Carolyn Hax

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