12 N2005P21001HI say “no” a lot, especially to my toddler.

“No, don’t do that!” “No, that’s not kind.” “No, don’t touch that!” “No, don’t put that in your mouth!” “No, no, no!” So many nos have to be said for a 2 year old to learn how to do life well. But do they all need to be said?

I’ve caught myself over and over again saying no to things he wants that inconvenience me. He is full of curiosity and wonder, and I catch myself saying no to his adventures, even when there’s no good reason not to other than it makes more work for me.

“No, you can’t jump in puddles today. You’ll get dirty.” “No, you can’t get that out. I just vacuumed.” “No, that’s too loud!” “No, you can’t help me. It’s faster if I do it myself.”

“No, no, no!”

Parents with young kids, do you find yourself doing that too? Why do we say no when, yeah, it might take some extra cleaning up, hosing off, or time out of the day, but we could say yes and have some of the best memories with our kids? Why do I say no? Because its not good for him or because it's not fun for me?

I want to say yes, way more than I say no. I’m not saying give the child everything he wants at the drop of a hat, but take note of the things I’m saying “no” to just out of pure inconvenience for me. If I don’t, I’ll be robbing him of a childhood of exploration, contentment in the little things, imagination and discovery. I want him to know he’s capable, fun and smart. If he never gets to find out for himself, how will he ever know?

Proverbs 22:6 holds this age-old truth: “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.” This definitely applies to training children in the ways of the Lord, but I think it applies here as well. What he learns now will serve him when he’s older. Hopefully, if I cultivate an adventurous heart in him, one that loves to learn, experience, imagine and discover, he’ll take that with him all the way through adulthood. Maybe he’ll teach it to his children one day. If I’m consistent, he’ll learn it, too. If I’m negative and self-centered, catering to my own convenience, he’ll learn it, too. But, if I seek out the needs of others, if I create experiences for him that he’ll never forget, if I let him show me what interests him, he’ll learn to do that for others, too.

So, here’s to saying yes:

“Yes, son! We’ve got nowhere to go today. Of course you can jump in puddles.”

“Yes, bud! Hop up on this chair and stir for me! I’d love your help!”

“Sure! I’ll play with you!”

And maybe, just maybe, by saying yes, I’ll come up with more adventures on my own, too.

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