My children have complained to me on occasion:
“Mom, you always say No whenever we ask you if we can do something. Everything’s No, No No!”
This is said with a tone of frustration.
My first response is to remind them, “I am your mother. You must respect me, even if you don’t understand my reasons for telling you that you can’t do something. I may choose to explain my reasons, or I may not. Your job is to obey. And not complain.”
Yet, on second thought, do I really want to be “The No Mom”? Maybe I do tend to be overbearing. Could I ease up, without sacrificing order and discipline in the home?
The Bible says:
“And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.”
“Provoke not your children to wrath.” If I am harsh, I will discourage my children and provoke them to anger. God says not to do that.
“But bring them up in the nurture … of the Lord.” What does the word “nurture” bring to mind? Kindness, sweetness, tenderness… God not only provides for our needs, but also comforts us in our troubles:
“Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.”
2 Corinthians 1:3-4
As parents, my husband and I provide for the needs of our children. But we must not let it stop there; we must also nurture and comfort them!
“Bring them up in the … admonition of the Lord.” Nurture and admonition work together in perfect harmony! Revelation 3:19 records the words of Jesus: “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten… ” (see also Hebrews 12:6-11) I must be balanced in my approach to parenting: not so much admonition that I leave out the nurture, and not so much nurture that I leave out the admonition. Frankly though, I find that I have a tendency to reprove far more.
So, how do I be a Yes parent?
Let me illustrate.
“Mom, can I build a tent in the living room, decorate it with lights, and sleep there for a few nights?”
“Mom, can I move all the place mats and the centerpiece from the dining room table, and put together a puzzle there?”
“Of course, honey.”
“Is it okay if I play restaurant and write up a ticket for your meal while you eat?”
“Can we take all the blankets and rugs out of the linen cabinet so we can use it as a hideout?”
“Go right ahead.”
All of those requests are completely acceptable. There’s no reason why I shouldn’t allow them to have fun doing those things. So what’s a little bit of a mess? They will clean it up afterwards (that’s not optional, by the way).
Here’s an example of what would not be okay:
“Mom, can I build a tent in the living room, decorate it with lights, and sleep there … then can I leave it there indefinitely, and never fold my blankets or put away my stuffed animals … and leave the lights on all the time?”
“Mom, can I move all the place mats and the centerpiece from the dining room table, and put together a puzzle there … but I don’t mean that I’m going to finish it right now–what I really want is to leave the pieces scattered all over the table (and let them fall down onto the floor) until I feel like getting around to finishing it?”
“No can do.”
“Is it okay if I play restaurant and write up a ticket for your meal while you eat … and spend all my time doodling on the ticket in order to make it look like an exact replica of the ones from the restaurants … and let my food get cold and go uneaten, even though I have school work to do in thirty minutes?”
“Sorry … but no.”
“Can we take all the blankets and rugs out of the linen cabinet so we can use it as a hideout … and dump all the stuff on the floor in the living room and leave it there for everyone to trip over … while we all cram into the cabinet and bang the door until it falls off its hinges?”
“Yet again … no.”
So, being a Yes parent does have its limitations! But I suspect that there are far more opportunities to say “Yes” than I had previously thought.
What about you? In what ways are you a Yes parent? Where do you draw the line with your children? What kind of things have you struggled with?