Adoption · Motherhood

The Transforming Power of Saying “Yes” to Your Kids

This week, we have another guest post by Shannon Evans. Shannon believes that we all belong to each other.  A wife and mother of three boys through birth and adoption, she enjoys scrubbing sticky furniture, hosing mud off children, and rushing to the ER to have nails extracted from small intestines.  Shannon blogs about faith, motherhood, and the beauty of humanity at We, A Great Parade.


“Mama, do you wanna jump on the trampoline with me?”

Well, no, actually.  I wanna sit right here in this comfy chair and watch you entertain your little brother while I kick my feet up for a minute.

But, you know the expression “fake it til you make it”?  Mm hm.  That.  I put my big girl panties on, pulled from the deepest reservoirs of love and energy within me, and I big fat faked it.

“Yeah I do! That sounds awesome!”

say yes 1

Let me be clear: I didn’t say yes because that’s what a “good” mom should do.  I didn’t say yes because I would feel guilty about saying no, or because I let my kid rule the roost.  I didn’t even say yes because time flies and one day I would look back and regret not doing it. (Though that’s very possible.)

I said yes to a reasonable, appropriate request to communicate to my son that he is heard, he is valued, he is enjoyed, and he is loved.

say yes 2

Like many adoptive parents, Eric and I have been deeply impacted by the research and teachings of Dr. Karyn Purvis and her team at TCU’s Institute of Child Development. There they specialize in therapeutic parenting strategies for families with children affected by trauma but, unsurprisingly, they consistently find that their strategies are equally effective for the health of “typical” families as well. One of the {many. many. did I say many?} nuggets that we gleaned from their training class was the principal of saying “yes” as often as possible.

Most parents I know, myself included, struggle with feeling like some Grumpy McGrumperson who is always nagging, correcting, discipling, and saying “no” a whole heck of a lot.  It’s easy to get wrapped up in the negative without even realizing it; to become consumed with the to-do list or the state of the house or the schedule you have to keep.  It comes to a head and you find yourself standing in the middle of a messy kitchen yelling at your children, wondering where it went so wrong and when it stopped being fun.

say yes 3

Wanna take a fun pass for a day?

It actually doesn’t have to involve hiring a babysitter. Shocking, I know.

Take one day and vow to say “yes” to anything your kids ask- within reason, obviously, but most things they ask actually are.  It’s just usually easier/more convenient/more of a habit to say no.  But let’s practice, shall we?

“Can I eat lunch outside?” Yes.
“Can I do an art project?” Yes.
“Can we go to the park?” Yes.
“Can I have chips for lunch?” Yes you can! After you eat your pb&j! (See what I did there?)
“Can I wear the shirt I wore yesterday?” Yes.
“Will you play dolls with me?” Yes.
“Will you go down the slide with me?” Yes.
“Will you jump on the trampoline with me even though you’re nice and comfy in that big chair?”

Deep breath.


say yes 4

Try it for a day and tell me it doesn’t make you both pretty darn happy.

If you do this for 24 hours, there will of course there be things you need to say no to.  If you do this for a year, there will be a lot of things you need to say no to.  But when you do, your kiddos might just accept it more easily, because you’ve built up an incredible deposit of trust in their little internal accounts.

In any relationship I’m in, I’m going to feel much more connected to the person if they are open to doing things that interest me and not just themselves.  I’m going to have much more trust in the person if they clearly try to consistently meet my needs, even if my needs seem silly or petty to them.  I’m going to feel much more valued by the person if they don’t come across as annoyed by me half the time.

Our children are no different.  We can treat them the way we want to be treated; we simply have to make the translation into what that means in their little world.

If you are feeling “stuck” with your kids, I urge you to try this challenge.  If it doesn’t improve your relationship, well I’ll give you your money back.  Guaranteed, baby.

For more insight into this idea, check out this article at Empowered to Connect.

This post was originally published here and has been reprinted with permission.

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