You know that phase in child development when your preschooler wants to know why? Why is the sky blue? Why is the grass green? Why do I have to go to bed? When you’re living through it, it can be exhausting. But I also admire the curiosity of their brain and I think they may be on to something.
As am mom, I have been challenged to ask “why not” more often. See, I don’t know about you, but I can get into “no” mode. When my kids make a request, my default response is no. No, because I don’t want to deal with the mess. No because it’s too much sugar. No because it’s not convenient. No, because I’m tired. No, because…well, because I’m just too busy rushing through life, managing the household, and keeping everyone on track to think about saying yes. But, if I could pause, for just a moment, and consider “why not” I might be able to say “yes” more often. And who doesn’t like to hear “yes” more often?
I get it. Messes are annoying. Time is limited. Too much sugar is bad for them. But our constant “no” is discouraging, defeating, disappointing, and frustrating. Do we really want to use our relational change with our children on saying no to getting a drink of water because they are in your way while you’re trying to cook dinner? If I get sick of saying no, I am pretty sure my kids get sick of hearing it. (In fact, they’ve provided lots of evidence to support that conclusion) The power of pausing to ask yourself “why not” is that often you can find a “yes”.
If a child asks for a cookie and your response is no, because it’s almost dinner time. What about saying, “yes, after dinner.” If your teen to asks to have a friend over to stay the night, and your answer is “no” because you are tired or they have an early soccer game. What about saying, “yes, if you promise to be quite with lights out by 10pm.” If they want to stop at a fast food restaurant for a snack after school and it’s not how you want to spend your money, what about saying “yes, if you’d like to spend your allowance on that.”
No certainly has a place. Sometimes no is the answer and for good reason. Sometimes no is the answer because you just don’t have it in you to say “yes”, and that’s ok. You’re allowed to be human. But if “no” has become your default answer, maybe it’s time to start asking, “Why not?” Because, in order to find your yes, you have to understand why you wanted to say “no” in the first place. By pausing to ask ourselves “Why not?” before saying no, we give ourselves the opportunity to find our yes, and to save our relational change for something that matters more.
Why not give it a try?