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My name is “No No Bad Dog”

July 8th, 2004 · 4 Comments


While walking back from Pike Place Market, I saw this T-shirt in a shop window.

My name is “No No Bad Dog”
What’s yours?

It’s not just dogs who are named No No. Plenty of people, especially children, probably think they share that name also.

Seeing this shirt, I asked myself: How often am I saying “No No” to my children? What do I say to my kids? How would they answer the question?

It’s not only the specific words but the tone behind them. The simple sentence “I love you” can communicate shame, anger, resignation or bitterness rather than joy and acceptance.

Remembering my own childhood, I feel I received my own share of names besides “Julie”. Kids at school called me variations on my maiden name or teased me about my glasses or clothes.

And in other situations of my life, with subtle speech, I was told I was a “bad” or incompetent child. For example, I showed one teacher that I had braided my hair by myself that morning, and she replied that it looked like I had slept on it overnight. I think for me, the biggest name I feel I was given was I Can’t Do It.

Family names often pass down from one generation to the next. But I don’t want my girls to inherit these “no no” names I had.

I know I need to praise my children more. Yes, I need to set limits, draw lines and give training. But I want them to hear more Yes than No. I want my daughters to hear positive affirmations from me as much as possible. I want each girl to believe her name is Yes, I Am Loved.

Tags: family

4 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Liz Lawley // Jul 8, 2004 at 6:25 pm

    I know this is somewhat blasphemous, but one of my favorite Bill Cosby routines included this line:

    “It was because of my father that from the ages of seven to fifteen, I thought that my name was Jesus Christ and my brother, Russell, thought that his name was ‘Dammit’. ‘Dammit, will you stop all that noise? Jesus Christ, sit down!’ One day, I’m out playing in the rain, and my father yelled, ‘Dammit will you get back in here?’ I said, ‘Dad, I’m Jesus Christ’.”

  • 2 Bob V // Jul 8, 2004 at 7:41 pm

    What do I see when I look at that t-shirt?
    A happy dog!

    Dogs strike me as saints or sages in a number of ways. This is a perfect example. Despite the negativity no-no-bad-dog faces, he has concentrated on what he wants out of life. And he’s happy about it. He’s thrilled to meet you and has consigned the criticism to the background noise. What is a name but a easily reproducible noise that uniquely identifies a person, place, or thing?

    For humans, being made fun of builds character. OK, I’m exaggerrating, but dealing with a dose of teasing is a worthwhile skill. Teasing is part of adult life too. Think of it as excercising your child’s self-confidence. By stressing the ego but not breaking it, it comes out of the experience stronger.

  • 3 Julie // Jul 9, 2004 at 11:21 pm

    Liz: yes, it is blasphemous and funny at the same time…thanks for the laugh.

    Bob: it’s good to know you find another angle to the picture/post. Thanks.


  • 4 emily // Jul 12, 2004 at 5:41 pm

    I just saw the same shirt in Pike Place, probably two days after you did. It made me pause and think too, what message am I sending the children in the way I communicate w/ them day in and day out? I want them to experience much more grace than I did as a child.