I heard a wonderful phrase recently that I thought I would share. If you keep this phrase in mind throughout the day, it will help you determine when you can choose your battles and when you must consider holiness over happiness. Here’s the phrase:
“Say ‘yes’ when you can. But say ‘no’ when you must.”
Say “yes” when you can
Many parents are too quick to say “no” to their kids, often for the wrong reasons. The wrong reasons to say “no” include:
- You don’t want to be put out.
- You are annoyed by the request.
- You are in a bad mood.
- You are holding a grudge over a previous misbehavior. (It’s up to you to wipe the slate clean if you have effectively dealt with your child’s misbehavior.)
If you say “yes” when you can, you and your child will be much happier. True, your child’s little requests might put you out a bit, but if you don’t have a good reason to deny the request, then say “yes.”
Say “no” when you must
On the other side of the parenting spectrum are parents who are reluctant to deny their children’s requests. The wrong reasons not to say “no” include:
- You fear that the child will throw a tantrum.
- You worry about hurting his self-esteem.
- You fear that your child won’t like you.
- You are afraid to assert any authority over your child
If you plan to teach your child anything of value, you must have the strength to say “no” to your child when the situation calls for it. There are many times when you must consider your child’s holiness over his happiness.
Carry this phrase with you
Even if you feel you do a good job of saying “yes” and “no” for the right reasons, keep this phrase in mind as your child gets older. Consider these circumstances:
- Your toddler begins to show he is capable of feeding himself, so you allow him that freedom at every meal. (You say “yes.”)
- Your preschooler gets out of bed every night one week, so you take away his freedom of reading books in bed. (You say “no.”)
- Your school-aged child shows over a period of weeks that he can complete his homework on time, so you give him the freedom to watch 30 minutes of TV after school. (You say “yes.”)
So while this phrase will certainly help us on a day-to-day basis, it’s also an idea that we should to carry with us throughout our parenting years.