A better way to say “NO”– a thought for parents

“Let’s See If We Can Say Yes!”   

Raising children is not easy!  I praise God for my parents.  One of the hardest things about raising (I know grammatically it should be rearing but that sounds weird so I am going use raising.) children is the choice of what we allow them to do.  Every day they come to us asking for permission to have this or to go there.  The easy thing to do is to say, “No!”  After all that puts and end to the discussion immediately before we have even had to consider what our children have asked.  Then because we have dismissed them so quickly we can get back to doing what it was that we were doing before hand.  I wonder though, what does this say to our children?

We all know that in many cases when  you tell your children “no” they will find some way to make it happen and often times without our knowledge.  I know that you do not think this to be the case with your children but let’s be honest and remember back to our childhood.  Now that we are on the same page, consider what saying “no” all time might be communicating to your children.  Perhaps it communicates a lack of genuine concern for the things they desire.  It may communicate that you do not care.  I think there are many children who are living with the feelings that their parents dismiss those things for which they ask to quickly without any consideration of them at all.  There has to be better a way for parents to communicate with their children.

One way that can be effective is to include the child in the decision-making process.  This by no means is allowing them to freely choose whatever it is they want but it is an action that allows them to not feel neglected or rejected as to their question.  The process is quite simple but does take a little effort to lay the foundation which will allow you to bring your children into the decision-making process.  The process is simply a conversation with your child that says, “let’s see if we can say yes to that. Then the decision-making is about running through a list of preset qualifiers with your children.  These preset qualifiers are the reasons for allowing or the reason for not allowing what was requested.  This may seem somewhat laborious but it is an opportunity to allow you children to see your heart behind your answers and that is what we want.

Here are some thoughts about laying that foundation–

  1. As the parents you decide what the preset qualifiers are going to be.  This means you must come up with the reasons as to why they cannot have the candy bar as you are checking out of the grocery store or why they cannot spend the night at so and so’s house.  Including the child in the decision-making process is not allowing the child to set the rules or boundaries it is allowing the child to live within the boundaries that you have set for the family.
  2. As the parents you must communicate with your children beforehand.  Far to often parents are unprepared and when there is a need for genuine communication with children they are unprepared.  Communicating reasons as to why something is allowed or disallowed happens way before the request is made.  It begins when we recognize potential areas for discipline.  Example–a parent should know that when a child starts school that there will be opportunities for sleepovers.  So before school starts sit down and talk with your child about the rules pertaining to sleepovers.
  3. As the parents you must demonstrate consistency in your foundation.  This does not mean what is allowed for one person must either be allowed for all people within the house. It means communication must be given as to why one is allowed and the other is not.  This is a great opportunity to teach responsibility and age appropriate behaviors/actions.  Example–My wife and I have Facebook and we enjoy it as it affords us many different opportunities.  My oldest son wanted to get a Facebook account when he was about 11 years old.  After all many of his friends had accounts.  So when he asked we sat down with him and went to the Facebook rules for creating an account.  We expressed to him that if he met all the qualifications then we would allow it under our supervision.  As we looked we all saw that one had to be 13 years old to have an account.  With that discovery the answer clearly was no, not at this time.  Handling the situation this way not only kept us from being the bad guys but it gave us an occasion to discuss honesty and the importance of not lying even if others were.
  4. As the parents you must allow your children to test the foundation.  Do not dismiss even the most trivial request.  Take the time to sit down and see if you can say “yes”.  If yes is the answer then you both will rejoice in the ability to do it.  If no is the answer there may be disappointment but it will be short-lived and your children will grow to appreciate your willingness to consider honestly their request.  Testing the foundation is important to your children establishing their own foundation for which they will build their future upon.

“Let’s see if we can say yes!”

2 thoughts on “A better way to say “NO”– a thought for parents

  1. This is good stuff, we say no way to much, and with little or no discussion sometimes. Thanks for some great thought’s on parenting.

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