I know I am telling my age here, but . . . I grew up under Nancy Reagan’s “Just Say No” Campaign. It was the First Lady’s aim to teach school age children to say “no” to drugs.
At times I felt that it was my parents’ mantra as well. No matter what I asked, the answer always seemed to be the same and it always seemed to be “no.” I am sure that wasn’t the case, but in my kid head, that’s how it seemed.
As a parent now myself, I get it. There are a lot of things my kids ask for that should always be answered with a “no” or even more appropriately said, “NO!” You can’t eat candy for dinner. You can’t tie your sister up. You can’t skip a bath for the third night in a row.
Often, however it is simply easier to just say “no.” A “yes” could mean a big mess. A “yes” could mean showing up late. A “yes” could mean blowing the week’s allotted grocery budget.
“No” is often my default answer. It is the first word out of my mouth when my kids ask me anything. Then I find myself wondering why I my original answer was “no.” Could I have said, “yes?” Should I have said, “yes?” Can I change my mind? Should I change my mind?
Somehow sensing the confusion in my inner dialogue, my children know to pounce, bombarding me with “Why’s?” and “Why not’s?” and I find myself on the ledge of responding with, “Because I said so!”
Yet, kids are persistent and sometimes instead of hearing the “no” I say, they hear, “Keep asking, I might just change my mind.” They attempt to wear me down but in the midst of the whining and pleading I dig my heals in and I may even forget why I said “no” in the first place. The molehill becomes a mountain and now pride keeps me from changing my mind.
Sometimes I struggle with changing my mind, taking a “no” and making it a “yes.” My “no’s” need to be “no” and my “yes’s” need to be “yes” so my kids can trust me and count on my consistency. They need the security those boundaries provide and how I answer those questions (and whether or not I stick to those answers), shape their thoughts and hearts.
With three kiddos of various ages, it seems as if I am asked a zillion questions a day. Most of these inquiries are minor things and begins with “Mom!”: “Mom, can I have some fruit snacks?” “Mom, have you seen my _______ ?” “Mom, do I have any clean jeans?” But I have realized how I answer the small questions will determine if I am asked the bigger ones as my girls get older.
Questions are important. They are a big part of growing up and how we answer them is a big part of parenting. I don’t just mean with the words “yes” and “no” but how I say them transfers meaning and carries a lot or weight as well. Then there are places and times for explanations and then there are other times my kids need to trust my word. (Sounds a lot like how God parents me . . . . )
So . . . lately, I have challenged myself to stop, to think and then to answer.
I am finding that I can say “yes” more than I have been. There’s often not a good reason to say, “no” and the extra aggravation of saying “yes” is really worth the payoff . . .
There is a joy in getting to tell my daughters “yes.” When they respond with, “Really?,” their eyes light up, and I am rewarded with smiles and hugs, my heart overflows. There is a joy in the memories we make and I am content that the mess made was worth it, the clothing choice does not reflect on my parenting and the world did not stop because we were a few minutes late.
I feel that by saying “yes” I am a better, happier parent and my kids are better and happier because of it too.
I am also encouraged because I know the Bible tells that God says “yes” to us when He can. The verse says that just as our fathers know how to give us good gifts, how much more will our Heavenly Father give to us? (Matthew 7:11, Luke 11:13)
By just saying “yes” I am following God’s parenting example AND I am learning how He loves me too.
Is there a way you can just say “yes” today?
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