As parents, we are charged by God to “raise our children up in the ways of the Lord so that, when they grow old, He will not depart from them.” (Proverbs 22:6). That’s the signature verse for my book, Teachable Moments: Building Blocks of Christian Parenting. That verse challenges us to love, honor, respect, guide, teach, and be there for our children in all circumstances. It also challenges us to set healthy boundaries, confront, restrict, and, yes, even say “no” at times to our children’s requests. Saying “no” is a vital part of healthy, Christian parenting.
“But Mommy, why not? Huh? Why not? You said ‘yes’ the last time. Mommy, pleeeease!” Eight year old Amy was not going to give up her request that her mom accept being her 3rd grade classroom mom. Denise had hesitated in answering her daughter just long enough for Amy to hope her no could be turned into a yes. Reminding her mom that she was her 2nd grade classroom mom last year was Amy’s effort to play the guilt card.
“Sweetheart, it’s time for another mom to step up. I’ve got too many things to do as it is. I can’t add something else to that list.” Amy stuck her lower lip out and pouted, adding, “You don’t love me anymore.”
Denise could have given in or fussed at her daughter for accusing her of not loving her. Instead, she saw Amy’s emotional fever rise and active listened her hurting daughter. “Aw, baby. I know you’re disappointed.” She gathered Amy into her arms for a big hug. Amy pushed her mama away and stomped her feet. Denise began to feel manipulated and that angered her. “Young lady, enough. What part of “no” do you not understand?”
Had Amy persisted, a brief time-out would have been in order. In Chapter 3 of my book, I challenge that children will always test the limits. Saying “no” strategically eases your child’s anxious and fearful feelings. They need for you to be in charge. They just will never tell you that. You have needs and feelings too, and you balance yours with theirs. Saying “no” builds character and resilience, and can be another path to teachable moments.