The most popular word in the average parent’s vocabulary is “no.”
To be fair, it’s an important word for moms and dads. Used properly, it creates healthy boundaries for children.
But it’s easy to over-do our “no’s.” We can be too protective. Remember Dory, the fish with short-term memory loss from the animated hit movie Finding Nemo? She reminded Marlin, the dad of mis-adventurous Nemo, “You can’t never let anything happen to him. Then nothing would ever happen to him.”
If we build too many fences, we’re not allowing our kids to be kids or to grow. Preventing them from climbing trees and splashing in puddles may keep them safe and clean, but it also inhibits them from taking risks and trying new things – skills they’ll need to succeed as adults.
Authors Mark and Jan Foreman say, “You can’t drive with the brakes on. You need an accelerator.” And in parenting, the accelerator is the word “yes.”
When Mark and Jan were raising their children, their motto was “Never say no when their child wanted to connect.” Even if they were feeling lazy or tired. They missed a few naps along the way, but “yes” created countless memories of splashing through the rain and wrestling on the family room floor. Those are sacred moments when children open up and invite you into their world.
The word “yes” is also a way to open your child’s heart to a deeper connection with God. “No” shrinks down God, the world, and the mystery of relationships to safe, bite-sized pieces. But life is so much bigger than that, and we want to equip our children to experience God and His creation fully. We want to raise children who appreciate a world of wonder and the God of wonder who created it all.
A life of “yes” opens up life for our children by equipping them with the confidence they need to explore their journey with God, and let God lead them on whatever adventure He wants to take them on.
Mark and Jan Foreman will be the guests on our radio program “Being a ‘Yes’ Parent in a World of ‘No’s.’” They’ll help you learn how to say yes in a way that doesn’t promote permissiveness or an “anything goes” attitude, but that channels your child’s interests in a constructive direction. They’ll also share how, even when your response to your child’s request needs to be “no,” you can say “yes” to other areas of your relationship.