A few days ago I was on the phone with my mom and she was telling me a story about someone asking her to do something. She was hesitant to help and so I replied “just say no.” My mom agreed and said she was going to think about what she should do. A few minutes later I remarked “All of a sudden Izzy wants me to carry her down the stairs and I don’t want to, she is too heavy.” To which my mom smartly replied “just say no.” I laughed out loud because it was so true. Sometimes it’s easier to give advice than it is to receive it!
So this brings up the question: Is it okay to say no to your children?
Recently I’ve read numerous articles about positive parenting. Articles about how saying “no” can be a soul crushing experience for children or how to say no without really saying no. I understand that constantly saying no and giving your children negative remarks isn’t helpful. But is it just me or does never saying no seem kind of crazy? Will the answer “no” really crush your child’s soul? The next time my daughter asked “up” when we were going down the stairs I said “no, Izzy you can do it yourself” and she went down the stairs by herself without any fuss or complaint.
Personally, I look to my Heavenly Father as the ultimate role model in parenting. This leads me to ask a few questions. Does God always give us what we want? Does God ever say no? I know sometimes it’s easier to say yes and I honestly don’t always want to deal with the tantrums or the crying when I say no.
When I reflect back I am more clear in my thinking. Sometimes saying no, letting Izzy figure it or having her wait teaches her invaluable life skills. It develops her patience and perseverance. I believe God does the same thing when he gives us challenges or makes us wait. I’m certainly not bashing people who choose to use a more positive approach in their words. I believe words are powerful and we should be careful what we say. At the same time I don’t want to feel guilty or like I’m a bad parent because I tell my daughter no. I think it’s healthy to set boundaries and to let your children know they can’t always get what they want. Isn’t that how life works?
I will finish with one of my favorite scriptures on discipline. It is so true that discipline isn’t fun (for the parent or the child). It isn’t always the easy route, but I believe it develops the fruits of the spirit in children.
No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. Hebrews 12:11