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I know those of you in some online groups with me have seen me quote this before as we discuss parenting issues. This is one of my favorite quotes, and one I must chant to myself over and over. I have been planning on posting about it for well over a year…
The problem? I cannot for the life of me find the reference to this quote. I am 90% positive I heard it quoted by one of the leaders of the LDS church, but I have scanned my manuals and done Internet searches and have come up with nothing. So please forgive me for not knowing…but maybe someone out there knows? Remember when I couldn’t remember that story about the starfish and thought it was clams? Maybe someone can help me out here.
Even if I can’t give credit to the originator of this quote (I want to say it was Gordon B. Hinckley), it is still a great quote.
My husband and I often find ourselves saying no just because. Just because it is inconvenient. Just because we don’t feel like dealing with it. Just because it doesn’t seem like the socially correct thing to be doing. Just because…whatever. We tell each other this quote often to remind each other that we need to say yes more.
I think this is a common tendency for parents. I remember my mom doing it often. It gets easy to say no and forget the why behind what you are doing.
Last week, we celebrated my birthday with my family. While there, I was struck with three different examples that reminded me that I was getting a little to serious and a little too “no” happy. The first was in the decorating of the cake. Now, I let the kids help decorate cakes sometimes–you know, the parts they can’t possibly ruin. I also let them frost cupcakes. But I have never let them frost THE cake. My mom handed Brayden and Kaitlyn each a knife and let them go at it. As they spread frosting, they pulled the top of the cake up as you might imagine. I know had I been in charge, I would have stopped them at that moment and done the rest myself. My mom let them continue on for as long as they wanted. Then she smoothed it all out after they were done and you never would have known two little ones had a hand in it. And guess what? The cake tasted just the same as it would have if it was perfect. Lesson number one.
Lesson number two came when the candles were all lit. We were waiting for a couple of grandpas to come back in so we could sing. We waited for several minutes and those candles were getting small. Suddenly, Brayden walked up and blew the candles out. My husband and I both immediately said, “Brayden!” and my husband asked him what he was doing. Brayden felt bad and started to cry. We told him it was okay. The next day, my husband and I discussed the situation and both agreed we had reacted poorly. Yes, on a level I see why I didn’t think what he did was okay. If we had been at another child’s birthday party instead of mine, the child would have been sad to have had his candles blown out for him. But the good news is candles are re-lightable. No biggie. We can talk to him later about appropriate candle behavior. And maybe he was blowing them out because they were almost gone?
Lesson three was the one that tipped me off the most on me not saying yes when I can. Brayden was the first to get a piece of cake, and apparently he wanted one from the very middle of the cake. So my mom cut a random square in the middle of the cake and gave it to him. If it had been me, I would have told him he could either have one from the side or wait until I got to the middle. But after a moment of thinking about it, I thought, who cares? What does it matter? Unconventional? Yes, at least in my linear mind :). But did it bother anyone? Not at all.
There will be many times your child will ask to do strange and random things. Say yes when you can and no when you must. Don’t say no when yes will do. Saying yes isn’t always convenient, but when I am striving to really follow this counsel, I find that my kids are much more accepting of no when it comes.
Now, I am not suggesting you let the child run the house. I don’t find that my children ask for outrageous things, and they definitely ask for things I must say no to (like when Kaitlyn wants as cookie for breakfast). And sometimes they ask for things I am okay with but now isn’t the time. I tell them yes, but it will happen later.
This idea of saying yes when you can and no when you must brings to the forefront the importance of having goals and understanding why vs. how. Understand what you are trying to accomplish with your child. How will the request impact your goals?
Also, you can tell your child you need to think about it for a minute. Say, “Let me think about that” and analyze the situation. Think…do I need to say no? Or can I say yes? It is okay to say no when you need to, but equally okay to say yes when you can.
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