What would happen if I said “Yes” to every request my children asked me for a day?
After a week of “No” being the primary word in my vocabulary at home, I was frustrated and tired of the drama. “No” had become my default. And, the complaining, incessant whining and stomping of feet had become theirs. A good portion of the day was spent doling out discipline, and none of us were happy.
We needed a break.
So, I decided to try an idea I had recently read where a mom chose to say Yes to every request of her children for one day. She didn’t tell them her plans, and her kids figured out the ruse quickly. They had a wonderful day and truly enjoyed spending sweet moments together.
I told Matt the night before what I was going to do, and he warned me of the chaos that could ensue, but I reassured him that it would be okay. I woke up early the next day, excited to see what fun the kids and I would have together, and waited for the first one to stumble sleepily into our bedroom.
Saying yes didn’t turn out the way I thought.
Though Lauren never really understood that I was going to say Yes to her all day, she took full advantage of spending time with me on her terms. We started the day snuggling, then read books, played games, had a yummy late breakfast, watched a movie, and stayed in our pjs until the afternoon. For her, it was the perfect day because quality time is love to her. She wanted me, and she got me, without distractions or exclusions.
Jackson, on the other hand, chose to play his Nintendo 3DS, for more than four hours straight. Even with regular interruptions to invite him to breakfast, play a game, watch a movie or have a snack, each time he chose to bury himself in his video game. I was really bummed. I wanted all of us to be together and have this magical day doing what each child would enjoy, and here Jackson was strung out on an electronics high.
I barely resisted the urge to yank the handheld and introduce to him to reality. Even after flat-out revealing to him that it was “Yes” day, Jackson still clung to the 3DS. So, I left him to his own “devices”. And, Lauren and I had an amazing morning without him.
About noon, Jackson came stumbling out of his bedroom, literally dazed and eyes bloodshot from straining at a small screen all morning long. He was hungry and cranky, and demanded that he have breakfast. I told him that breakfast was over several hours ago, but I would be happy to make him whatever he would like for lunch. My shell-shocked son looked around the room, seeing the games and crafts and movies and other activities that he had decided to forgo, and he lost it. He started sobbing and collapsed onto the floor.
Getting what you want doesn’t always mean you are really getting what you want.
I sat down on the floor next to my precious boy and scooped him into my arms, letting him cry for a bit longer. After a morning full of video games, he needed to physically feel love surrounding him. He was upset at me for not including him in all the fun Lauren and I had that morning. But with a gentle reminder that it was he who had chosen to play video games instead, I knew that really Jackson was upset with himself. After a good long snuggle, Jackson emerged from the Mario coma, and helped me get his lunch ready. The rest of the day we spent together, taking it easy.
This Yes Day was certainly nothing like the blog post that inspired the experiment. My day was messy, dramatic and full of hard life lessons.
1. We don’t always know what we want.
We think we do! But getting what we want doesn’t always end up the way we thought it would. Sometimes getting what we want means we miss out on something even better. Jackson learned this first-hand on Yes day. Often when we make decisions based on “me”, the results are hollow. God knows this, and that’s why He urges us to listen and follow Him. His wisdom is true, and He really does know us and what is best for us. He is our maker.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths.
– Proverbs 3:5-6
2. Sometimes saying no is a great act of love.
Saying no can be hard as a parent, especially when no means the child will miss out on something they really want or they won’t understand our decision. Saying no can protect our children from exposure to negative situations or people. Saying no may be a form of needed discipline to help correct behavior. Saying no may allow us an opportunity to teach our children to say yes to God’s best. It may not be popular with them, their friends or even other adults. But, when framed in grace, saying no can be the most loving response we can give.
3. As parents, we need to look for ways to say yes.
Sometimes we say no because the request isn’t convenient or it interrupts our regularly scheduled programming, and we’re being lazy. It’s easy to get into the habit of saying no without really considering the heart behind the request. Lauren might ask me to paint her nails, and I say no because frankly I don’t enjoy it or I’m doing something else (usually not important). But, for her, it’s not just about getting flashy pink polish, it’s about spending quality time with me. Instead of just shooting off a no, I need to more consciously look for ways to say Yes to what my children really need.
Though our Yes day didn’t go as I’d planned, we were able to love on each other, even through the hard lessons. Both children went to bed, securely confident they were loved by God and by their mom and dad.