Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Say Yes!

I received a very valuable piece of parenting advice once. The advice was to say "yes" to my children as often as possible so that when I needed to say "no" they could respect it.

I must say that 8 years into this parenting adventure, this advice rings true. I find that, for me, the word "no" comes far too quickly. When I know that things will be messy or exhausting or chaotic and they'll require a lot of set-up and clean-up and monitoring, I'm tempted to say "no." I have to ask myself if my "no" comes from a good reason or if it's just my own impulse to keep things neat and clean and simple.

Because when I say "yes" I let my child know that what they want is important, too. I let them know that I hear them, and that I want them to have a say in how their life should go. I open us both up to new experiences and possibilities just by being willing to try out a "yes" before I decide if "no" is really worth it.

Saying "yes" releases me from the power struggle of saying "no" for no good reason. It builds contentment in our relationship because we aren't constantly fighting about what they can and cannot do.

"No" still isn't always well-received, but I know that it's built on a foundation of "yes," and that means our relationship will recover. And because I know that my "no" isn't just instinct or impulse, I can provide a valid reason and respond with confidence. My confidence gives my child confidence - confidence that I know where the boundaries lie, that they will not just keep running to the edge of the world until they fall off, but that they will, indeed, meet up with a fence that keeps them safe.

And so I try to practice "yes" because I know that "no" will come anyway.

This post is a part of Momalom's Five for Ten...


  1. Wonderful blog!! So true!! I need to remember this with my students as well. :)

  2. It's so hard to fight the initial impulse of "no", to make it sit in the back for a while!

  3. Oh, I hear you on the "desire to keep things neat and clean and simple."
    If one wanted things that way, perhaps it would be better not to have the children. :)

  4. That is very, very good advice. I'm definitely guilty of saying "no" on the basis of clean and simple. And sometimes, when I make myself say yes to things I'd rather avoid, good things happen. Case in point: today, my kids asked to go to a park that is sort of far from our house. Normally, I'd say no and take them to the one within walking distance. Today, I told them yes, and I ended up running in to an old friend that I hadn't seen since college! It turns out she has a son almost the same age as mine, and she just moved back to the town I live in!
    How's that for karma?! :)

  5. Hi! What a sweet post. I agree it's good to say yes and not just no all the time. We certainly have our share of needing to say no. Thanks for stopping by my blog and leaving a sweet comment. It's so nice to meet you. Enjoying your blog.

  6. Good advice. I'm always saying no to try to keep things clean and simple but it never works out anyway so maybe I should just try saying yes and enjoying things a little more. :)
    Great blog...I love your title.

  7. "Because when I say "yes" I let my child know that what they want is important, too."

    So so so so true. Many months ago I wrote a post about how I snapped at my son's question. NO, I responded. And moments later, as he left the car for school, and I watched his bouncy steps walk away from me, I realized I didn't even know what he was asking me. That I was hurried and impatient and couldn't be bothered. And so I said NO. And though I've learned this lesson time and time again, I wonder how often I commit this same crime.

    You are write. Our children DO need to know they have a say in their life, too. And YES is so very, very important. And YES, the NOs will come anyway. Out of necessity or impatience or whatever. So it's the YES I have to focus on more.

    Thankfully, I seem to be turning things around. Intenional happiness. For everyone in my family.



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