“Say yes whenever possible unless it is unsafe, immoral or illegal.” That is the advice of veteran mom of three sons, Ruth Gibson. Ruth Flesvig Gibson was speaking in 1988 at a women’s meeting at my church, Sunny Place Church of God in Addison, IL to mothers of young children. She was encouraging us. Her words resonated in my heart and energized my approach to parenting.
“Yes”, was the answer when my 3 sons and their friends wanted to rearrange the furniture in the family room and hang blankets to build bulwarks for rubber band gun wars. “Yes”, everyone must wear safety goggles or sunglasses. And every boy who entered our house learned the Number One Rule: Never Shoot The Momma.
“Yes,” was the answer when the children wanted to play outside for five hours in the snow building igloos. “ Yes,” was the answer when a child wanted to make cookies. “No”, was the answer when they wanted to eat all the dough (unsafe) and not bake any cookies.
Sometimes the answer “yes” is difficult and inconvenient. I didn’t do it perfectly. “Yes,” was the answer when they wanted a friend to stay for a meal or a sleep over. “Yes,” was the answer when they wanted a strange hairdo. “Yes,” was even the answer on the subject of tattoos. However there was a caveat, you had to want the same design in the same place on the body for a whole year and you had to wait until you were 18. Actually they didn’t need our permission once they turned 18 and as far as we know none have a tattoo yet.
Having four children of our own sometimes meant that we could have four or more other children playing at our house at one time. There was a period of ten months from August 1990 till May 1991 that another family with one small child also lived with us. That increased our household of six residents to nine people. Add a few friends and it was not unusual on any given day to find more than a dozen people at our house. It was not always chaotic, just sometimes.
The point of saying “Yes” whenever possible is giving your child freedom to try things. The result is a growing self-confidence and the discovery of interests and strengths. Also there is less to feel rebellious over when much freedom is given. Sometimes the answer was, “Yes, you may, but can you afford to do that?” This leads to lessons in finance and delayed gratification. Another answer, “Yes, but do you think that is the best option?” leads to lessons in decision making and discernment.