My third child was always into trouble when he was young. He exasperated me every day! I would instruct him to do one thing and he would deliberately do the opposite. It was if this was a game he played and he won when I was extremely frustrated! Do you have one of these strong-willed children?
Frustrated and angry and hopeless, I did not know what to do with this child. In the midst of this, I also know that he had a sweet spirit, curious mind and a no-fear personality. Nothing bothered him except when I said, “No.” Thankful to God, I came across an article that transformed his behavior – and mine, too!
Unfortunately, I don’t have the article, but I do remember the lesson. A mom writes about a similar problem with her child that I was having with mine, and she discovered that she was saying “No” to her child more than she ever said, “Yes.” She challenged parents to count their “nos” in a typical day and compared them to their “yeses.” I found that my “nos” outweighed my “yeses.” As a matter of fact, I hardly ever said yes to this child. Being the third child and middle child, he was getting the left overs of mom’s stress and not getting a fair dealing.
At every chance I had to say no or yes to this child, I considered a couple of things:
Will it matter if I say yes to this one request?
Is saying no to this request about him or about me and my selfishness?
I needed to consider his needs above my own. I often needed to stop whatever I was doing and simply spend time with him. More often than not, my nos had more to do with my selfishness and what I wanted to do at that moment than what my child needed and wanted. Once my yeses started to outweigh my nos, my son’s behavior radically changed to obedience. What is really remarkable is that over time, when I had to say no, it was okay with him. He felt satisfied by the many times I said yes that obeying a few of my nos was okay.
When my son’s and my behavior changed toward one another, we also discovered that we bonded closer. We got to know one another and I got to know his friends, too. You see, one of his many requests was to play next door with his friend. One of the many times I said no to this request he sneakily climbed the fence and went over there anyway! You can only imagine how upset I was when I couldn’t find him! Once I did, I realized that I was missing an opportunity to get to know my neighbor. Sometimes we are just so busy to stop and do what is really important! Amen?
As my son has grown, every neighborhood we have lived in, he has been our greatest evangelist. He has always gotten to know the neighbors long before the rest of us. He has been instrumental in creating opportunities for us to share the gospel with those that need the Lord. Our son’s insistence on having more yeses did transform his behavior and mine, but it has also opened the door for the Lord to work through us in other people.
Lesson learned: Let your yes be yes, and your no be less.
Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici / FreeDigitalPhotos.net