I’ve always known this, but more recently I’ve noticed that my kids go answer shopping. That’s to say that if there is something that they want they will make a calculated decision about which parent they ask based on who they think will answer with a “yes”.
They often go to their mum before me. My kids ask for a lot of things. I say no more often than I say yes. I’ve wanted to change that but with good boundaries that are both responsible and respectful.
A healthy “yes” and a strong “no” is important for a child to hear from their dad but the reasons why are also important.
So I’ve started to say ‘Yes’ to my kids more and say ‘No’ to the things that take me away from being with them.
My youngest daughter asked to play Monopoly Junior, I said “yes, can you teach me how to play?”. She smiled took my hand and walked me to the table where she had already set up the game. We played for an hour on Easter Monday. She won both games.
I lost graciously but ended up being the real winner because of the quality time we spent together.
My eldest daughter asked to shoot hoops after dinner on night this week. I said “yes, but first we need to clear the table and clean the kitchen. If we do it together we’ll have more time for basketball”. We put some music on and blitzed the unpleasant tasks of washing up and drying so we could have time together outside in the early evening being active and playing together.
My son asked if it would be all right if he goes for a bike ride with his mates. I said “yes mate, no problem but make sure your phone is charged and you’ve got air in your tyres. Who’s going with you and what time should I expect you home?” He can home covered in mud and with a smile that said he’d had an awesome time with his friends.
My middle daughter, aged 9, asked if she could have some friends come for a sleep over. I said, “no, not until you’re 10 but that’s only 4 months away so perhaps we can start planning your party?” Not the answer she wanted now but she’ll get the ‘yes’ she wants later. It’s not a hard no, it just a not right now.
So I’ll keep trying to say “yes” more to my kids. And say no to the things that take me away. I’ll be saying “no” to scrolling social media on my phone when my kids are around.
I’ll be saying “no” to the work call that comes in after 5 pm. I’ll be saying “no” to the distractions that daily life throws up when my kids are on holidays and we get to spend time together and make memories.
I’m saying yes to being a dad.
Author: John K. Family, Friends, Fitness, Food and Faith