Balancing Yes and No


I listen to myself throughout the day. I listen to my response to the unending barrage of questions from my children as I’m trying to teach that impossible-to-grasp page of math. Again. You know those questions:  Can I go outside? Can we have a snack? Can we color now? Can I help you make lunch? Can we play this game? Can I go the store with you? Can I read now?  My response? Sadly, and most often, it’s a not very thought out and simple to answer, no.

No is easier.

If you think about it, no involves less work. No means not having to get up to get a snack, not going outside, not playing, not having extra work at the store, not having to read one more chapter, not diverging from the schedule. No is all too easy to respond. Or, to muddle it even more, we respond with those in a minutes, maybes and I don’t knows. Those are even more vague.  Our children’s hearts are at stake, mothers! They absolutely deserve our attention even in the midst of the craziest homeschool days. It takes just a second or two more to really listen and really answer. That’s it.

Our children deserve an intentional answer.

They need our no’s to be well though out and not just a quick response. And then, they need there to be a sprinkling of yes responses. It’s a balance between yes and no, but instead of just blurting out the quick no, it’s rather met with an answer from a listening parent. Yes, you may have a snack. Yes, we can go outside. Yes, we can study this today. Yes, you are important. Yes, you can help me cook lunch.

Be involved.

Not half-awake involved. Be the decisive involved mother that our children deserve. They need our yes and they need our no answers. There isn’t room in our short time of parenting and homeschooling to be wishy-washy – we need to strive to raise our children to be a generation of adults that can make a decision, stick with a decision, and examine a decision thoughtfully. We teach them through our intentional example in decisiveness. We can be decisive in whatever type of homeschooling that we follow – from unschooling to classical to charlotte mason to unit studies to school at home. When we are decisive we not only teach our children to be decisive, we also teach them that they matter, that their hearts matter, and that they are important to us.

Does it mean that we can never have times of I don’t know or not right now’s in our day? Absolutely not. After all, if I’m knee deep in trying to explain an algebra problem to my eighth grader and I know that stopping would create more work, well then I’ll probably respond with a just wait. But, it will be an intentional just wait I’ll get to you in three minutes response. That’s okay. Those times are needed in our busy homeschool day. This post? It’s about examining the overall theme of our answers and making sure that we’re not responding out of ease and autodrive. 🙂

Listen to your responses today, on these ending days of May. How many times do you automatically answer no to your children? What happens when you stop, get down on their level, and answer with a decisive answer? What happens with yes? Because, more often than not, the yes answers are for times when you as a mother will get to be involved with your children. And, if your life is like mine, you’ll find yourself blessed with the joy that answering with yes brings.

Rachel lives in the half-a-year frozen land of Minnesota. She’s a Christian home schooling momma to seven fabulous kids, and is the wife to an amazing cancer-surviving husband. In January 2011 her youngest son, Samuel, was diagnosed with Celiac Disease so you’ll also find her passionate about gluten free living and Celiac Disease awareness. Between home schooling, blogging, running her family, and, of course, drinking coffee, you’ll also find her driving her girls to classical ballet or her boys to soccer. She’s passionate about seeking joy and living a faith filled, intentional life. You can find Rachel blogging at Finding Joy

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  1. So true, and something I have been striving to become more aware of. Such as, the end of the day when I am exhausted from homeschooling my 12 year old who has many special needs and then my 10 year old daughter. Some nights when I’m winding down I will hear “mama, will you brush my hair” I have been guilty of saying no. But I see the signs of her developing into a teen lately, so I say “YES, I WOULD LOVE TO!” as I know those requests will be a thing of the past way before I am ready for them to be.

  2. Have really been noticing this and other not so great behavior in myself. Thanks for the reminder

  3. Beautiful reminder. It’s so easy to fall into the habit of saying no without thinking about the long term effects on our children.

  4. We just talked about this, my 20 year old and my 13 year old. They can’t take maybe for an answer. When 20 was younger I wold explain to him when we could and when we couldn’t – what makes this answer a maybe. And he would translate it to yes. And I wold wonder who took my dictatorship away from me and why I was having to argue to get it back! And I changed my maybes to NO. Of course I still included Yes answers and he turned out okay. But he tried to say maybe to his little sister and I burst out laughing – she’s just like you! Maybe isn’t safe with her! She thinks it means YES!

  5. My son fussed at me the other day because every time he asks for a snack or something I say “Right yet or not right now.” I guess it has become sort of auto pilot. We cannot stop most of the times he asks but I should be treating him with more respect by giving him a thoughtful, heartfelt answer. Thanks!!

  6. It is so easy to say no, especially when there are already so many demands on our time. Sometimes I have to stop and remind myself that I am so busy as a homeschool mom, because this is the lifestyle that my husband and I chose for our family. I need to take time to enjoy the rewards of this lifestyle with my children, things like playing outside or reading a book together.

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