Monday, October 24, 2011


"When you become a mom one day, be sure to say YES when you can. And, believe me, you'll be able to say yes more than you'll realize--or sometimes more than you'll want."

I was only in high school when my mom's friend said this to me--a full 10 years before I would become a mother myself. But there was something about these words that always stuck with me.

My son's birthday was this week. One of his presents was a really cute book I found at a book fair called Yes Day. It's about a young boy who gets one "Yes" Day a year. He asks for pizza for breakfast; The answer is yes. He asks to use hair gel for spiky hair; It's a yes. He asks for a piggy-back ride, to clean his room tomorrow, to stay up late. Yes, yes, yes.

We read the book together, giggling at the fun pictures, smiling at the sweetness. And then we told our son that, on his birthday, he could have his own "Yes" Day.

I braced to have to say "No" on at least something. But you know what? I didn't have to. He didn't ask to drive the car, get a pet tarantula, or inquire about selling his sister for a Nintendo DS.

He just asked to go get frozen yogurt. He asked to follow a train that went by when we were out driving around. He asked to stop and play on the old caboose downtown. He asked to ride his bike. He even asked for some Cheese Puffs (Huh? How does he even know what those are??).

So we went for frozen yogurt. We followed the train. We got out and played on the old caboose downtown. He rode his bike. And yes, I stopped and got him some Cheese Puffs.

We didn't say "Not this time, we need to get home" when he asked to follow the train. Which is something I've totally said before, even though I had nowhere else I really had to be. I didn't say "No, buddy--maybe we'll play on the caboose later this week" like I've done in the past, simply in an effort to put him off. And when he asked for Cheese Puffs, I didn't go into some long tirade about the empty calories and chemically-processed electric-orange cheese like I totally ordinarily would have. I bought him a bag and listened to him happily crunch away in the back of the car on the way home.

It was freeing. And I think it meant more to me than it did to him.

I say NO too often--and for no good reason. "I can't sit on the floor and do a puzzle because I'll be in a world of pain if I do." Well, I did just that yesterday. Yes, it hurt (Thank you, sciatica and broken tailbone). But it also felt wonderfully right to plunk down and work on a puzzle with my kids. "No, you can't eat that. No, we can't do that. No, I'm too tired to read another book." Often my NO is spoken out of my own exhaustion or inattention, rather than a legitimate need to say no. Saying no is sometimes the easier answer--not necessarily the right answer.

My heart hurts just thinking of all the NO. Now, I'm certainly not saying I regret responding with a Necessary NO when I've had to. God has placed us over these children to give parameters and guardrails. A kindergartener has no business choosing their own diet, their own bedtime, nor their own rules on a day-to-day basis. God gives us wisdom to raise them up with boundaries for their own blessing and protection. There's a reason YES Day can't be the norm. And I can tell you that although he didn't grow an extra head from eating those Cheese Puffs, they probably won't be on next week's shopping list!

Sometimes the answer really needs to be NO. But it's the too-often-Unnecessary NO that grieves me.

Why not a YES when they want to read a fifth book? Why not a YES to stop and play on the playground when you know time will allow for it? Why not something that might make a bit of a mess, but will create a beautiful lasting memory in their minds?

I wanted to be a mom for the books and the puzzles and the painting, and to every "Can we?" to which I could say YES. Yes isn't the right answer every time, but perhaps it is more often than we may think.

And when we don't always make NO our Go-To answer without cause, it just might make our NO carry a little more weight when it has to get said.



  1. i love this post. i'm going to buy that book for a couple of "no" people in my life {including myself} who would appreciate or be nudged by it {hopefully}.

  2. YES!!! hehe

    Great post. My mother in law were just discussing this same thing yesterday on the phone. I read the advice in a parenting book years ago... Saying "yes" as often as you are able helps your "no" to be easier for your child to obey.

    I love the idea of a yes day. :0)