I understand… it’s a common parenting necessity and yet, I can attest that I’ve found myself stuck in the “no” rut more than once! And before long, the kids aren’t the only one’s who seem miserable! It makes me grumpy and typically, sharp with my tongue.
Without a doubt, children need both attentive guidance and loving correction, but when we find ourselves saying “no” all day long, something is way out of balance. This would be a good time to do some serious prayer and spend time reflecting on where our parenting got off track.
The reasons for our “no’s” may be many and perhaps we feel justified in using the word so much, but if we’re wise mothers and willing to humble ourselves before the Lord, we can often find a better way to address the same issue. A good place to begin is acknowledging why we’re saying no so habitually. Typically, it’s one of three reasons…
• they’re asking to do something that isn’t the best use of their time, resources, or mind!
• they want to do something that is a really bad idea!
• we’re tired, stressed, and irritable!
The first two have to do with spiritual immaturity on their part. The second is spiritual immaturity on OUR part! Ouch!
As a mom, when I’m fatigued and short-tempered, I need to put off the desires of the flesh and put on a bit more self-control. I realize that it’s hard to do that when we’re worn out, but if we beseech Him for what we do not have within ourselves, that’s when the Lord gets all the credit. He is glorified in our weaknesses.
When we do muster an answer, what can we possibly say other than “no”?
You maybe thinking I’m suggesting you must start using the word “yes” all the time. Let’s face it… “yes” may not be the best answer and maybe it’s even a bad answer! So what would this look like in real life? Let’s take a look and a few ways we could NOT use the word “NO”…
Q: Mom, can we watch _____________________? (Child’s request is the tenth time this week for a trivial twaddle!)
A #1: No, you certainly may not watch that movie!
A #2: Yes, you may watch a movie such as _____________________, but there’s a reason we won’t be watching ________________. (Spend 5 minutes discussing the reason if you’re able).
A #3: You may watch a movie on Friday night, but for now, you may read that book you requested from the library.
Q: All the kids at church are going to _____________________. Can’t I go, too? (Child’s request is for an event they know you would not approve of)
A#1: Seriously? Who’s idea was that? anyway No! Of course not!
A #2: Have you prayed about whether or not going to _______________ is a wise idea? Why wouldn’t it be good to go there? What is our family policy on that kind of thing? Do you know why your Dad feels it isn’t a good idea? Let’s invite the _________________ family to spend Saturday evening with our family and play volleyball out back. I’m thinking banana splits would be awesome!
A #3: Tell me, why are you wanting to go? How do you think God feels about it? (More probing questions to find out the heart of the request).
Q: Mom, I have an hour before dinner. Can I ride my bike to __________________ and back? I’ll be home in time to set the table. (a reasonable request;, Mom is tired and thinking it’s a hassle to get the bike out of the already packed garage).
A#1: No, I’m busy right now cooking.
A #2: If you can get your bike out by yourself, then yes, you may. But you must put everything back as well.
If child answers she cannot do it herself….
A #3: Then you may take the dog and walk around the block if you’d like.
Sometimes another response just isn’t appropriate and we really must say “NO”. But when we do, it needs to be clearly heard and respected by our children. Using “no” too often causes them to either begin tuning out the word altogether or they become exasperated and anger builds, thinking the only answer they’ll ever get is “no”. By that time, joy is gone for both you and your child.
So next time you’re tempted to say “no”, pause for just a moment, tell your child “Just a minute and let me think about what you’re asking”. Whisper a prayer and then try answering without using the “no” word. Practice makes perfect and you may need a do-over once in a while, but in time, “no” will be a rare thing indeed.