When my two younger boys were 12 and 14, they ran inside one hot summer days and asked, “Mom…it’s so hot outside! Can we see if it’s hot enough to cook an egg on the sidewalk?” The practical side of me started to say no, but then I caught myself. What would it hurt for them to try it? Why couldn’t I say yes? Is it “wasting” an egg, or simply using it for a different, but just as valuable, purpose?
After that quick argument in my head, I finally said, “Sure. If you want to try it, go ahead! Just make sure you wash off the sidewalk when you’re done.” They got an egg from the refrigerator and ran out of the house to try their science experiment.
At that point I’d been mothering for 24 years and I’d finally learned how to be a “yes” mom more than a “no” mom. It wasn’t an easy transition…but it was an important one. For years my interactions with my kids looked more like this:
“No, you can’t fingerpaint.” (It will make too much of a mess.)
“No, you can’t bake cookies today.” (I just mopped the kitchen floor!)
“No, you can’t have a friend over today.” (I don’t want to go anywhere today and I’d have to go get them.)
“No, you can’t play in the sprinklers.” (I’m not in the mood for wet swimsuits, towels, and grass tracked in the house.)
“No, you can’t go out and play in the snow.” (I don’t want to deal with the snowsuits, boots, gloves, scarves, and hassle of it all.)
Over time, however, I started paying attention to the “no’s” and my reasoning behind them. It usually had something to do with my selfish reasons. I didn’t want to deal with a mess. I didn’t want to be inconvenienced. I didn’t want to have more work to do.
That’s not fun to admit, but it was true. My selfishness was robbing my kids of some of the joy of just being kids!
I remember one afternoon many years ago when a couple of the kids asked, “Can we blow bubbles in the house? I initially said no because bubbles have always been an outside activity. But then I thought about my answer. Why couldn’t they blow bubbles in the house? We even have the bubble cups that don’t spill! Why do I always say no so quickly? Finally, I called my kids back into the kitchen and said, “Yes, you can blow bubbles in the house. Have a blast.”
And they did.
And I started being more of a “yes” mom, than a “no” mom that day.
Now I’m not talking here about permissive parenting. I’m not talking about the times that we need to say no because our kids really do need us to set boundaries. I’m talking about the times that I say no out of selfishness, or default, or habit.
So what about you? Would you like to join me? I can’t wait to hear your stories!
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