by Steve Watters
Our kids were entertained during a recent visit to their grandparents by a”no” button they had. With each push of the red button, they would hear a variation of “no.”
“No, no, no, no!”
“For the last time, no.”
It reminds me of a streak I found myself on when my kids were younger and I was in the middle of a big project. Just about every time they would interact with me, they would hear a version of “no.”
“No, I can’t read a book to you now.”
“No, no, don’t play so loud.”
“No, no more cookies for you.”
“Not right now, buddy.”
I was working at Focus on the Family at the time and while I can’t remember the setting, I can’t forget the simple encouragement Dr. James Dobson gave one day that opened my eyes to my pattern. “Notice how often you find yourself saying ‘no’ to your kids,” he said, “and look for opportunities to say ‘yes.'”
He explained that parents often need to say “no” to requests kids make that aren’t good for them, and that kids need to hear parents say “no” to bad behaviors. But he observed that much of what parents say “no” to are opportunities to play, read or just talk to their kids. “Look for opportunities to say ‘yes’ while you still can,” he said, “before they stop asking.”
Since then, I often catch myself about to say “no” to a request from my kids, especially when what they want to do with me seems inconvenient or not as important as what I’m doing. And then I remember that I only have a small window of time to say “yes.” Sometimes, It’s after I’ve already said “no” that I catch myself and go back to say “yes” after all. However it goes down, I can typically count on delight in my childrens’ eyes when they receive the gift of “yes.”
My wife and I have to say “no” a lot as we guide our children throughout the day, but we’ve agreed to say say “yes” as often as we can to opportunities to build relationship with our children. We’ve found that it’s a small glimpse of grace for both them and us as it better reflects our loving Father who lovingly says “no” to all that would harm His children, while generously saying “yes” to what meets our needs and deepens our relationship with Him.
“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount. “For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then,who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:7-11)
What’s your go-to response? Are you sounding like the “no” button? Look for opportunities to say “yes.”
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