On one side, not only does it seem easier to parent by avoiding no, but many parents even believe it’s good for children to never hear no.
Why say no when you can achieve the same thing with a yes?
Instead of, “Don’t ride your bike or dig for gold in the living room,” how about: “It’s a lovely day outside. Why don’t you ride your bike in the back yard, or dig a hole to China next to the daffodils?”
The answer is, parenting is not sheep herding. The fact you got the kids into the pen in under 3 minutes is not a testament to anything. In theory, it’s possible to convince, bribe or trick a child to do just about anything.
However, if we avoid no, we will have failed to give our children a most valuable life lesson.
A person who can’t put aside their own wishes to make someone else happy cannot be happily married, hold down a job, or have deep friendships.
Part of living with other people, is having to accept no and take orders. And where do people learn to take orders? You’ve got it – from us! From parents.
It’s easier said than done, of course. “No,” to a child, creates the same kind of reaction as a Blue Grass band who mistakenly plays instead of the New York Philamonic — nothing against Blue Grass, unless I have to listen to it.
So you might be thinking, it’s better to say no than yes.
But that would be too simple.
Look at the first time a parent said no.
God took Adam and brought him to the Garden of Eden. God said to him: “From all the trees of the garden you may definitely eat. But from the Tree of Knowledge of good and evil do not eat.” (Genesis 2:16-17)
Before G-d said no, He started with a yes. Similarly, “We’ve got your favorite dinner tonight, so no more candy. And I don’t care how many songs you can downlaod, you aren’t trading Zak for anything!"