Saying Yes, A Parenting Experiment

At some point, I decided that saying “no” to my children could make me a good parent.

I said no to lollipops. No to television. No to going. No to staying longer.

No, you can’t have that toy. No, you can’t snack on that. No, we don’t have time for one more. No, we can’t make [something elaborate] right now.

Of course, I’ve spoiled them here and there, but I did say NO more than YES. I wanted to be strict, prudent, disciplined.

I’m not so sure anymore. I don’t want them to look at the world and see no. I want them to be unafraid of asking for help and taking risks and asking big questions and treating themselves. I want them to look at the world and see yes.

What else? The no’s don’t seem to be adding up. Yes, I clean their room more often than I should. Yes, they have cavities anyways. No, they’re not asleep most nights by their [my] ideal bedtime. And if they can figure out how to sidestep my no’s, they do.

I think I avoid yes because it brings guilt, as if a shot of processed sugar could make me a bad parent. It seems more likely that the no’s are undermining my authority. I am tired of power struggles and battles of the will. If I learn how to bend, will my children learn the value of flexibility?

As I’m making the conscious shift towards Yes, I’ve doled out more scoops of ice cream and boxes of juice than before. I’ve permitted slightly more iPad time. I’ve stayed in their room longer at night, because they want me to stay. I’ve bought more [educational] toys. I’ve taken them on more adventures and to more cafes. Best part? We’ve had more new experiences.

When my big girl asked to go to Toys’R’Us the other day, I took her. A miracle transpired and she didn’t spend any of her hard-earned $28. She left the store disappointed, but dignified and determined to hold onto her cash to save for a doll that cost $50.

In the car, she started begging for half the money. I said no and I gave her the reasons, but I did (and continue to) offer her myriad opportunities to earn the money. I seek a balance between Yes and No, I always have. The difference now is that instead of leaning towards No, I’m rooting for Yes.

Thank you to Shonda Rhimes’ book “Year of Yes” for the inspiration.

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1 Comment

  1. I feel like this post was meant for me. It’s the guilt of saying “yes” to all the fun things all the time that binds me into saying “no.” But as you so beautifully say, there’s beauty and love in yes and the lessons that our children can learn in deciding for themselves when to say “no.” Yes, there should be a balance in this. Not only for our children, but for us too. Thank you for this!


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