Saying "YES". Bringing up Kids God's Way, Part 9 What About Control? Part A: Establishing Boundaries, Part iii


"Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it." (Prov 22:6 NIV)

Last week we looked at the importance of saying "No".

My poor kids. I have definitely learned the importance and power of saying "No", and I use it very regularly. In fact, sometimes I use it so regularly that my boys wonder if I even remember how to nod my head instead of shaking it; if I know how to make my mouth and tongue form the word "yes" instead of always saying the word "no"!

Is this a problem?

No, it's not usually a problem because my boys know where their lines are and they know not to cross them. They know all of the reasons why I say "no" so often, and they are generally okay with this.

But sometimes it is a problem. Sometimes my boys go away with the notion that I just don't want to give in. And sometimes they get some crazy idea in their head that their ideas and desires aren't important, aren't intelligent, aren't plausible.

Friends, learning to say "no" to your kids is one of the most important things you can do as a parent. However, potential problems can also arise if you never say anything but "no"!

So when is it okay to say "yes"? The answer is simple: It's okay to say "yes" when you don't have a good reason for saying "no"!

A patient of mine once gave me a great piece of advice on parenting. He said, "Always ask yourself: 'Is it illegal, immoral, or likely to hurt something?' If the answer is 'no', then maybe it isn't so bad!" This piece of advice has gone a long way in helping me to know when to continue to insist on boundaries, and when it is okay to relinquish control.

While we were still home schooling, my children became introduced to Geocaching and it became one of their favorite pastimes. Often I would be asked the following question: "Mom, can we go Geocaching this week?" Before answering "yes" or "no", I would try to follow my patient's advice. I'd ask myself:

1. Is it going to be harmful to my boys? Is the weather appropriate for such activities? Is the area we would have to go dangerous in anyway? Would it interfere with the good health habits I'm trying to teach them? Would it lead to serious injury or illness?

In the case of Geocaching, we would look at the weather, and if it wasn't too cold or too hot, if the area we would have to visit wasn't too muddy or too dangerous in other ways, then I might consider saying "yes". After all, it encourages computer skills (which we were learning) and exercise, and it doesn't require encroachment on sleep or good eating habits!

2. Is it going to bother someone else? Does it encroach on anyone's time? Would it take the place of time promised to spend helping or visiting someone? Would it be dangerous to anyone else in anyway?

If the anticipated Geocaching trip didn't take us into anyone's yard, didn't require the time of anyone else, and didn't interfere with anything we have already promised to do, then why not?

3. Is it going to encroach on a more important task? Are there more important things to be done in that time frame?

Often I had appointments scheduled during the only times we would have available for Geocaching, so I would have to say "no". And sometimes we might not have finished the required school work for the week, or I was expecting company for the weekend and needed the extra time to get things done.

Many times however, after having given my "good" reason for not going, my boys would have suggestions. "Mom, isn't that appointment in town? There's a Geocache really close to there! Couldn't we go by really fast on our way home?" Or "Mom, what if we help you get the guest room cleaned out and the cooking done? Then could we go?" Or, my all-time favorite: "Mom, if we hurry with our school work, then can we go?" And in the end, I was made to realize that sometimes you can just fit things in, and in doing so, I was teaching my boys the value of lending a helping hand. So often, my "no" would change to a conditional "yes". "Yes, but only if . . ."

4. Is it against any moral or ethical law?

If the Geocache took us onto restricted property, I would have to say "no". But if not, then why not consider a "yes"?

5. Is it only a personal preference that makes me say "no"?

As a homeschool mom who also tried to maintain a part-time job, headed up a home Bible study group, moderated and wrote for an Internet newsletter, was responsible for a handicapped parent, had pets, drove taxi for my boys, and was required to produce 3 healthy, thought-out meals each day, to say nothing of being responsible for a clean house, clean clothing, gas in the cars, etc., sometimes I just didn't want to go Geocaching! All I wanted to do was to STAY HOME AND VEG!

Good reason?

NO!!! I was putting my own wishes above the wishes of someone else. Oh, I did occasionally say "no" for this reason, but when I did so, I explained to my children how tired I was feeling and how stressed out. They understood, and generally would begin taking steps to alleviate my fatigue and my stress. But sometimes I said "yes", because I realized that my personal comfort was always standing in the way of something they wanted to do. And each time, I found that the outing worked to alleviate my stress far better than staying home would have!

To sum it all up, sometimes "no" is a very appropriate response, but whenever it isn't, consider saying "yes".

Lyn Chaffart

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