Teaching our children to accept “No.”
The little boy stamped his feet, then threw himself on the floor of the store, screaming at the top of his lungs. His father stood there bewildered, holding the toy he’d taken from the boy. His “no” had been met with a challenge. And as the rest of the customers looked on, the father caved in and said, “Ok, ok, you can have it. Stop crying!”
In a contrasting incident, while sitting in the back of a church meeting, a grandfather leaned over and drew a line on the floor with his finger. “Do not cross this line. You can play here, but not over there.” His two year old grandson looked at him and stuck his foot across the line. He paused and looked again at his grandfather. “No!” said the grandfather firmly. The little boy drew back, got his truck and began to contentedly play in the designated area. Everyone was happy.
If we do not teach our children to accept “no” from us, we will cripple them, for life is full of “NOs.” Some come from us. There are things that are wrong, and we protect them by refusing to let them do those things. A clear line drawn with a firm, enforced “no” will keep them from harming themselves and others with rebellious, out-of-control behavior.
Some “NOs” come from others: teachers, police, bosses, leaders. To teach them to wisely accept a “no” means to submit to authority, to surrender, to give up our rebellion. Teaching this to a child empowers them to deal with life.
If we teach them to accept “no” from us, they will be able to say “no” to themselves, opening the door to a disciplined and fruitful life. They will also be able to say “no” to other people who seek to use them, manipulate them or harm them. Without a grasp on “no,” a child is adrift on the sea of choices, unable to determine what is good and what is not.
Most importantly, teaching them to accept “no” will open the way to their denying self and following Jesus in belief, in life in service.