I’ve been reading a lot of parenting articles in my motherhood groups lately. The focus seems to be on saying “yes” more to our kids. I was buying into a little at a time, slowly doubting myself in a new way, and thinking that I just shut the kids down too much, too often.
So “yes” started becoming my new mantra. Not to anything dangerous, of course. But I found it pushing bedtime back because my new question was, “What does it hurt?” And if they stay up a little late, they can sleep in a little, it’s summer. We homeschool. We’re on our own schedule.
Every interruption that came, I was trying to meet with a sweet, “Yes baby, let’s do that.”
With 5 kids asking me for time, attention, snacks, activities, things to do, I started to feel overwhelmed. I was being pulled in more directions than I could keep track of, and I started to see the disappointment and let down of the yes’s that I couldn’t follow through on.
Is “yes” the best answer when the hours of the day run out and our children feel like we’ve broken a promise? Yes is like a promise to a child.
Today, as I was down to only a couple of the kids, and we were having special time together because I rarely have just the girls, it just kind of hit me – if God is wise enough to tell me no, why do I suddenly think I need to always tell my kids yes? Yes is not always the best answer.
I am limited. If I don’t guide my kids through how to manage my own human limitations and give them a solid example of choosing how we spend our time, then I’ll send out adults who run themselves ragged and don’t know how to say no. They have to hear no, have no be enforced, to be able to say no. If they never hear me say no, they may turn their backs on God when He says no.
“No” should not be a foreign concept to my children. “No” is disappointing, but not as disappointing as a yes that wasn’t followed through with. “No” teaches patience, boundaries, delayed gratification, selflessness.
See, if I’m crawling into bed weeping because the interruptions were too many and I didn’t allow “no” to protect my energy, then I’m eventually going to resent them. Or resent motherhood. I don’t want to look back on these days and only remember the exhaustion, overcommitment, and crawling into bed in tears because I wasn’t enough that day. But that’s easy to do in motherhood.
I would rather so no to some things, so I can say YES to the best things- as my Pastor Craig Groeschel says.
Today we did a face mask and painted nails, but I said no to writing a story. That was a hard one, anything that moves their minds is kind of my jam. But today was a good day for pampering and I also had chores to do, a personal project, and meals to prepare.
I have more peace about saying no to writing that story than I’ve had in the last several weeks of trying to say yes to everything.
I’ve learned that God says no when I’m not in His will, not looking the direction He wants me to, to keep me safe. I don’t always understand, and I don’t always like to hear no. But I trust that God has my best interest in mind, and I want to lead my kids to trust that He has their best interest in mind by showing them that I do. I also want to lead by example that it is okay to say no to some of the things that tug at our time and attention.
How do you feel about saying no to your kids?
Until next time,