When To Say NO

When To Say NO


“Anybody out there who is a parent, if your kids want to paint their bedrooms,as a favor to me, let them do it. It’ll be OK.”

― Randy PauschThe Last Lecture

As a parent it is often hard to know where to draw the line.  Am I being too strict? Too lenient? How do I know when to say NO?  Should I let them….? Is it ok to…? There are so many important decisions to make every day that it is often overwhelming.

So overwhelming that sometimes we get stuck in the NO place.  NO, you may not go to your friends, NO you may not play video games, NO you may not eat candy before dinner, NO you may not paint your bedroom purple, or red, or black, or any color at all!  We are so used to saying NO that sometimes we don’t even think about it, it just pops right out our mouth.

When my oldest child was going off to college her younger sister was moving into her room because it was much bigger.  She wanted to paint it red. My initial reaction was NO!  (All I could think of was how hard it was going to be to repaint it when she left for college.)  She was pretty disappointed.  Later I thought about it and I realized that I had said NO out of habit and really had not given it a lot of thought.  We talked about it and we compromised.  We painted her room yellow and the moldings were red.  She also had to agree to help repaint the moldings when it was time for her to move out. I realized that painting her room was her way of declaring some independence.  I realized that my NO was based on what I wanted without really thinking about her needs.  I realized that there were going to be a lot of times when I was going to have say NO in the next few years and that painting her room was pretty low on the importance scale.

I don’t think Randy Pausch was simply talking about letting our children paint their bedrooms.  I think he was telling us to think before we say NO.  To save those NO’s for the important times and painting their room does not really qualify as important. I think he was telling us to concentrate on the big issues and let the little ones go.  I think he was telling us to let our children start practicing being independent so they will be ready when the time comes for them to leave.

There are so many times we have to say NO to our children.  The next time your child asks for something, don’t let that NO just roll out of your mouth. Instead, pause and think before you answer your child’s questions.  Ask yourself, is NO really necessary?   Ask yourself, why am I saying NO? Ask yourself, what will happen if I say YES?

So…consider all of the outcomes before you answer and then answer with conviction knowing that you are making this decision with the confidence that comes from thinking it out and not just reacting.

Have some fun today!



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