Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Saying Yes?

Over at the 4Real Learning Forum there is a thread on "Saying yes to kids regularly."

Do you say yes more than no to your children? Or even to your dh?

I tend to have a "yes" personality -to automatically say yes more than no. Even - "Yes, I'll help out with the morning tea.." Why?

Partly because I have made an extra effort to be more positive in my life, given my own childhood and a bad bout of depression and health problems as an adult .

Partly because I am a natural "Pollyanna"!
Partly because I like to help others.

And partly because I have seen the positive atmosphere and relationships that arise when I am more open to my husband and children, to their needs, to saying yes.

Yes doesn't have to be an out and out, unqualified yes - although it is cool when that happens ~

"Yes, let's have lunch at Subway!"( to the kids)
"Yes, give your self tonight off, I won't do my Kumon stuff either, and we'll watch a movie together." ( to dh)

However, the more qualified yeses still work.

"Yes, we can go to the library - how about tomorrow (or how about pay day, when I have money for all the fines!)?"
"Yes, you can have a snack - let's try to choose something healthy. Yogurt or fruit or?"

With my husband -

"Yes, I really want to talk with you about this - but can we talk tonight after CAFE. I'm kinda busy getting ready right now?"

Will saying yes make me a doormat? I doubt that anyone who knows me in real life would call me a doormat! Or even naturally submissive!

St Paul writes about husbands loving their wives, and vice verse, and of dying to self. In Eph 5:21 to 33 he writes, "Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
"Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless."

Submitting one to the other implies a positive relationship, a relationship where saying yes and encouraging another is the norm. And what husband would not desire to give his up his life ( wants?) for a wife who shows willingness to do the same?

Okay, but what about the kids? Won't saying yes more than no create selfish kids?

Let us regard those boys over whom we have some authority as our own sons. Let us place ourselves in their service. Let us be ashamed to assume an attitude of superiority. Let us not rule over them except for the purpose of serving them better.
This was the method that Jesus used with the apostles. He put up with their ignorance and roughness and even their infidelity. He treated sinners with a kindness and affection that caused some to be shocked, others to be scandalized and still others to hope for God's mercy. And so he bade us to be gentle and humble of heart.
From a letter by Saint John Bosco

And from the Catholic Encyclopedia on St John Bosco and St Philip Neri ~ In his rules he wrote: "Frequent Confession, frequent Communion, daily Mass: these are the pillars which should sustain the whole edifice of education." .... He thoroughly believed in play as a means of arousing childish curiosity -- more than this, he places it among his first recommendations, and for the rest he adopted St. Philip Neri's words: "Do as you wish, I do not care so long as you do not sin."'

Saying yes can be a Catholic method of parenting. I have found that my children have learned to be less selfish and to die to self in the many times that I have had to say no, especially over big issues. They are also learning these qualities via our long discussions, especially after sharing books and movies and stories of the Saints; by example; by necessity within a large family; by the volunteer work we do as a family, both in our parish and in the homeschooling/wider community and by self denial throughout the liturgical year ( Advent and Lent penances, for example). So far, the older ones have grown to be young adults who do serve others. Mostly.

How does one say yes?

In this article on Saying yes, an unschooling mother shares how one can say yes in many forms ~
“Yes, we can do that in 15 minutes when I’m done with this. If you’d like to help, I can be done even sooner.”
“Yes, you can buy that. Let’s think up ways you could save up or earn the money.”
“Yes, we can do that tomorrow morning because right now I’m about to drop from exhaustion.”

Another mother describes her shift from "saying yes" to automatically saying no and then back again - I have five children ages 12 to 1, always homeschooled, and though we started off as unschoolers I drifted into requiring this and that over the years—very gentle & Charlotte Masonish, but still some requiring.
And we have mostly been happy but often been tense, and in the past few months I've been looking around and noticing that there really is a lot more tension here in my home than I had realized. I realized I am being more critical, a scolder, and this is so far from the picture I have always had of myself that it has been something of a shock
. From Saying Yes Again

Can we say yes over everything? No, especially with children, there are big issues. Issues where a no, a discussion, rules are important. But it helps to
re-think our words every now and then- could we say yes more? Even a qualified yes?

Even in areas that seem to go against the mainstream?

Well, yes. In nutrition, for example...Agn├Ęs Lommez is not a homeschooling parent, but a French nutritionist/educator working on a government programme to combat growing obesity in France.She was quoted in Time May 23, 2005 as saying:
The trick is never to tell the children no. Kids can and should eat chips, just not every day.

Smile more. Say yes more - to ourselves, to our husbands, to our children. Save our nos for the biggies. Practice self denial in some areas and role model this for others....Hey, its worth a try~!


Ruth said...

Excellent post, Leonie. Thank you for writing it. I learned a lot from it. I'm going to save it and read it over again.

Leonie said...

Thanks, Ruth - thats the great thing about blogging - I can write posts as reminders for myself, to go back and read in my less than stellar times. :-)

yesterthoughts said...

What an insightful post! Thank you, Leonie, for sharing it on your blog. God bless you and your dear ones.

Lorna said...

Great Post Leonie.
You have such a clear way of writing, I always enjoy reading your blog, but especially on topics like this that are important to me too.

Leonie said...

Hey, I'm interested in your thoughts on saying yes, too! Maybe on the CU list? :-)

Amy said...

Thank you Leonie! Of course you know I am very interested in this topic, being the one to start the thread and all. :)

Cindy said...

Hi Leonie--

Yes, I like to consider myself a "Yes Mom"-- and funny the boys say yes to me I lot more, too!

Marie said...

Hi Leonie,

I am a natural nay-sayer, being the critical melancholy who naturally sees the faults in everything and would generally prefer to be "left alone". However, I have learned that reserving 'No' for when it is necessary, with good reason, is vitally important in both keeping peace in our family and keeping the spark of learning and spontenaity alive. In other words, saying yes to dc even when I don't feel like it. Slowly I change to start to feel like it, and tap into my adventurous side. "no" brings out my controller, "yes" brings out my learner. Also I find that 'yes' puts the energy back into my son's court and brings some of his outlandish ideas into reality a lot quicker than my trying to reason would.

Leonie said...

Marie, and Cindy, interesting to hear your children's reactions to a "yes" mum.

My dh tends to more naturally say no, and we have discussed this together and laughed over it - or, maybe he says "Well see" or "Later"!

Leonie said...

Oh, And Amy, thanks for staring me thinking along these lines!