Further Thoughts on Yes, No and Raising Children

The guest post that Tara wrote yesterday on the “the beauty of no, the softness of yes” was speaking to our ability as artists to figure out how to focus. But a comment from Elizabeth Howard, author of the well written and extremely thoughtful blog “Letters from a Small State” got me thinking down a different pathway as well. As my reply to her comment grew, and grew, I though it was worthy of sharing my thoughts here.

First up, here’s Elizabeth’s comment:

Terror. Sheer terror. Seems like for the hundred times I said “yes” before, it was the right sort of yes, and now there are so many more balls in the air to juggle with kids and camps and teachers’ conferences and leaky pipes and “mom will you do a craft project with me??” and should they be reading or playing or eating a carrot or having a playdate?

Terror. Sheer. Terror.

I totally hear you Elizabeth! With kids in the mix, we say yes to so many of their needs, and those yesses for them can crowd out the yesses for us.

Of course, when they’re infants, we DO have to say YES every time, right away. (When I hear an infant cry, I still get crazy inside until I know someone is picking that baby up and paying attention to those needs). As those babes grow older, we have to start saying no for so many reasons, and it’s such a slippery, steep hill to climb. But I firmly believe in saying those nos to them for many reasons, including:

  1. I believe it ends up teaching them self reliance, and creates a nicer human being who will have healthier relationships because everything wasn’t done for them. This is my most frequent no, and it often doesn’t involve me saying no at all. I’m saying “pick up your own dirty clothes”, “clean your own mess”, etc… It would be so much easier to do this myself! Not only would it be quicker, but it would be done properly the first time. The hope is as adults, they won’t expect others to pick up messes (literal OR figurative) for them.
  2. Ah, such a beautifully organized playroom! Of course this picture was taken at the end of a huge re-flooring, reorganizing project last summer. Is it always this neat? No! But it’s still pretty darn useable.

  3. It creates a more creative, problem solving thinker. This is my “no, I won’t make it for you, here are the craft supplies, do it for yourself”, or “no I don’t know the answer to that question, look it up in the dictionary/schoolbook/internet”. My husband always felt very strongly about making sure the boys have access to paper, crayons, and batteries, 3 things that were always in short supply and treated as something precious when he was a child. This is their desk in the kitchen/family room, stocked with all sorts of supplies:
  4. I need to say no so I have time to say yes to making. I am an absolute crazy person when I’ve not been able to make in awhile. Everybody has learned that for me, making has got to be part of the daily ebb and flow! A happy Mommy – well, it’s kinda necessary, isn’t it? How can we support and teach our kids if we’re sad? My boys see the joy I get from doing what I do, I truly help it’s a great example for them.
  5. Of course, I still say yes a lot, I’m a Mom, it’s what we do. But I’ll often modify it with an “as soon as…” While writing this post tonight, Logan want me to read him a story. Of course…as soon as he makes my bed, so we have a cozy place to cuddle. Both boys know how much I love to have a neatly made bed to crawl into each night. Years of us making the bed together before story time has created 9 and 13 year old boys who will often make my bed as a surprise, without me asking!

Yes, they are awesome! Now, if they would only make THEIR beds! 😉

3 Responses

  1. I also still go crazy when I hear a baby cry, lol – good for you on teaching your boys so well, I’ve done that too. I want them to know how to run a household and do it well, to not treat their wives like maids, and be self-sufficient. Sometimes saying no is the best thing you can do for them!

  2. This post is so FULL of life and also of organization. I want to move in. Thanks so much Candy for writing it and for reminding me that I am NOT a horrible human being when I say no sometimes. There are MANY times I notice how much BETTER my kids play and work things out when I am not in the room, so WHY are they always asking for me? Sigh… I know I know I am SO lovable!

    You are great and thanks again!

  3. insightful post Candy! It is so true, being a mommy of 2 young boys also and a crazy lady if my creative needs aren’t met. of course i make sure to give my kids needed attention and play time with me on a regular basis, they also have plenty they are responsible for on their own (working on giving my 4 yo more responsibility since he has been babied just a wee bit more than my 6 yo). balance is key and that is such a wonderful skill that we can pass on to our children.