Yes vs. No: The Struggle is Real

February 6, 2018

To say no, or not to say no: that is the question. 

Sometimes being a parent is hard. Okay, all the time being a parent is hard. There are way too many things you have to worry about teaching your kids. 

There’s the simple stuff, like drinking from a cup, putting on pants, and tieing their own shoes.

Then, there’s the harder stuff, like reading and writing, being a good human, and wiping their own asses. 

Through all of it, you do your absolute best to work in unison with your kids. 

Often, you will grit your teeth to the point of a migraine, or your eyes will roll so far back in your head, you’ll see the insides of your eye sockets. But, whatever the task, you will do what you need to do to keep the peace, get shit done, and shape them into decent members of society while you’re at it.  

To maintain this fine-balance, you play an exhausting, perpetual game of trying to know when, and how, to say no. This also involves knowing when, and why, to say yes. If you say either of these words too often, or too little, well then, nice going - you just ruined your kid, well played. 

Say no too often – you will decimate your child’s self-esteem, and rob them of their natural ambitions. 


Say yes too often – you will create an out-of-touch spoiled brat. 

It’s always a question of which is the right answer, and why.


Saying No

As parents, we know we can’t always say yes to our children, and nor do we want to. 

Our children need to learn that they don’t always get what they want, because Heaven, (or should I say Hell) knows, that if given the option, children will always choose to get what they want. Saying no ensures their sense of entitlement doesn’t fly any further off the handle than it already is. 

Saying no establishes limits, and it sets the precedent for their future expectations. It helps establish a healthy form of control in their environment. 

No also exposes them to disappointment, and teaches them how to cope with the setbacks that come their way. It’s a real opportunity for personal growth, and God knows, they need it. 

In short, hearing no is reality, and your kids need to experience it. 

But, the hard part about saying no is all the fuckery that accompanies it. Sure, you’ll have “made your point,” but the mess that follows will also be yours to deal with. 

It’ll be up to you to deal with the tears and the anger.

It’ll be up to you to figure out the best (and easiest) way to explain it to them. 

It’ll be up to you to transition them from their Mach 5 meltdown back into the real world. 

Another thing to worry about with no is one of the tangent side-effect’s that comes with it: if no is dealt out too often, and without a healthy dose of yes’s to offset them, then you child will naturally resist you. 

Why would your child give you a yes, when all they’ve heard from you is no? They won't, because why would anyone do that? If this happens, you'll find yourself trapped in an intense back-and forth rally of no's with your kid. And, in case you're wondering, they will play until they break you because they're savage like that. 

Saying no also comes with the bothersome consequence of having to follow through on your words. You cannot budge, no matter how much they squabble or stew. If you deliver too many empty threats, they'll walk all over you, and they'll do so with ease, because like honey badger, they don't give a shit. Your weaknesses are nothing more than a window of opportunity for them. 

And, when you follow through, well, it actually means following through, which we all know is completely exhausting. 

Saying Yes

Once again, as parents, we know we can’t say no all the time, and nor do we want to.


If we were to constantly say no to our children, we’d be controlling, boring and downright miserable human beings. 

Being a no parent is being a helicopter parent – something none of us wants to be.


Saying yes is more fun, and there’s nothing more magical than seeing your child light up with excitement over such a simple three-letter word. 

Our children also need to discover how to make decisions for themselves, and by saying yes, you grant them this power. 


When you say yes, your kiddos learn from their actions. They experience the clout of choice, and the consequences that go with it – whether they are good or bad. Plus, sometimes, it can be downright enjoyable to watch the catastrophic repercussions of their senseless decision making, amiright?


By saying yes, you are also an opening, and not a barrier to the things they are interested in. It allows them to see you as their partner, and not their controller. This way, they will be more inclined to work with you and not against you – mirroring your yes’s with yes’s of their own. It's reciprocity psychology at its finest (which can be interchanged with reverse psychology as needed, so don't worry).

Also, sometimes yes is just easier. You don’t always have the time or the energy to deal with side effects of saying no


But, yes is also a slippery slope. Say yes to something you don’t normally, just once, and watch your little moppet benchmark it as the new standard. 


Say yes too often, and you will fall into an abyss of chaos, where control becomes difficult to grasp. If yes is heard more than necessary, your kid can, and will, test your limits (and by extension, your will to live). Everything will become a game of determining how much more they can get away with. They're pint-sized experts at exploitation.


Also, just like saying no requires you to follow through, so does saying yes. Unfortunately, when you’re a parent, you can’t escape following through on things. 



So, there you have it. When it comes to determining whether to use yes, or no, it’s an internal debate that muddles parents’ brains everywhere. It’s not even a question of which is the right answer, but instead, when is the right answer, and why? And how do you ensure the two words are properly interspersed?  

It’s a parental conundrum that I don’t have the answer to. 

However, in the instance you really find yourself lost when trying to navigate between point yes and point no, just take a deep breath, and do the following: pick whichever word is the easiest for you, and dust the rest of it under the rug for later.

Sometimes, the best answer doesn’t need to consider a yes or a no for your kiddo, but rather a yes to what’s easiest for yourself, and a no to what’s not. 

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