Yes vs. No

By Elizabeth Norman


Why does it have to be all your way or all my way? Why can't we spend a little time thinking, dreaming, troubleshooting, and talking it through together with our kids? Dare I say... PRAY ABOUT IT TOGETHER! (Psycho soundtrack here) Would that be weird?


I caught myself one day when my son was little. He was probably not yet in pre-K when I realized I was saying no just for the sake of saying no. It wasn't a conscious thought, but more of a habit. It was more of a default setting than a well-thought-out decision. And I still thank God that I prayed right then: "Lord, please help me say yes as often as possible to Joshaua, only saying no on purpose."


For example, I also remember the moment in time when my husband realized he didn't have to say no to our very small kids who wanted to take their very own first pictures on mom and dad's digital camera. We remember when you had to conserve film, and be careful and not waste those precious frames lest you pay good money to develop little fuzzy squares of gray matter. We grew up hearing no, and learned to say no where picture-taking was concerned; a perfect example of the "no factor!" Today, kids can take pictures with grownup cameras at will, with little to no "cost" to anyone. Now kids can be expert photographers by the time some of us were allowed our first click on a 35mm!


What else? What else are you saying no to out of habit, or because your parents told you no in the same situation? Is it for good reason? Does your no teach, or protect? Or does your no subliminally tell your child they are untrustworthy, incapable? Maybe no is just easier sometimes and requires less thought, or investigation, or communication. Let's be careful with our no's shall we?


Before you go accusing me of being too soft, or AFRAID of saying no, let me assure you! I am all for a purposeful, stern, absolute no when needed (ask my kids). But, as I interact with kids of all ages I find that they are often shut down by adults too lazy or busy to take the time to say yes! After all, a yes often requires more thought, more information, more conversation about parameters, etc. But it also offers more reward, more opportunity, for kids to learn, grow, make good choices and see that parents are on their side. Our kids deserve our very best, and that means careful consideration before we say anything!


Bless you as you approach your next yes/no question openly and honestly with your kids! I believe your effort will only deepen your relationship with the children you love so much!


"My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak..." (James 1:10, NIV)