As a Parent, Do You Say “No” More Than “Yes”

If you’re a parent, chances are you’ve grown accustomed to saying “no” – and for good reason.

By their very nature, children love to test the limits. If there’s an edge, you can bet they’ll find it. 

Back when our sons, Trent and Troy, were young, I remember how they often wanted to go faster, higher, farther and deeper. 

When we allowed them to watch one movie, they’d ask to make it a double feature. If one dessert was good, two would be better. When certain video games were allowed, they’d inevitably ask for ones we weren’t comfortable with them playing. If we pushed bedtime from 9 to 10 P.M., it wasn’t unusual for them to try and renegotiate to 11 o’clock.

Since science confirms that children’s brains aren’t fully developed, it’s up to the parents to try and help their her kids understand the logic behind necessary safety boundaries. For example, saying “no” to venturing out beyond the guardrails for a “selfie” at the edge of the Grand Canyon doesn’t make you a bad parent – it makes you a responsible one.

But what about more subjective things – like saying “yes” to the kids request to go running through the sprinklers in March or jumping a few feet off the deck into a snowdrift – in their pajamas?

This is the spirit behind a new, fun movie by Netflix called, “Yes Day.” 

As my colleague Bob Hoose at Plugged In noted in the conclusion of his review of the film:

“Let’s face it, a parent who lets you do everything you want can be as much of a train wreck, family-wise, as one who won’t let you do anything. Sometimes a solid ‘no’ is the best choice to make. That said, families saying yes together can be pretty incredible, too. There’s a loving balance to be found in that tension, and parents often struggle to find it.”

It’s the wise parent who looks for opportunities to say yes to their child’s requests. And I get it, most parents are just trying to keep the family’s train on the tracks. Shaking up a routine or surrendering a weekend might not be at the top of your list. The request might seem inconvenient or even make you a little nervous.

But think again. Take the long view. 

Take it from someone who is at the tail end of the parenting season. Oh, I know I’ll always be a father to my boys, but I remember the days when my arrival home was met with great excitement. Maybe there was a new Lego creation to be built or enough light left to play ball in the yard. My “yes!” was always met with great enthusiasm. I love the young men our boys have become – but I still miss those days when a simple “yes” would elicit such excitement.

So as we head on into the weekend, I’d like to challenge you to find reasons to say “yes” to your sons and daughters.  I suspect you won’t regret it. And please let me know how it goes.

Photos courtesy of Netflix

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