To say Yes, we have to learn to say No


Do you ever feel like a million demands are coming your way as a parent? Alas, you realize it's ten days til Thanksgiving and you have no idea what your family is doing, but you're pretty sure it should involve you. To top it off, some brown-eyed, "been there/done that," passionate TBRI® parent trainer comes at you with, "It's important for you to give your child the hundred thousand yeses he missed in the first two years of life."

I love teaching TBRI®.

I'm actually kind of a nerd about it. I believe it's not just a great parenting model for high-risk kids, but for all parents who want to practice a structured and relational, attachment-rich model of parenting. I could talk all day about the nuts and bolts of Trust-Based Parenting and I actually do - quite often!

But one of the most often asked questions is not about the nuts and bolts of TBRI®, but about how I kept on keeping on. How do you have the stamina to keep giving those yeses day after day, month after month, and for many of us, year after year? For me, the challenges of parenting a high-risk, fetal alcohol impaired young man meant changes in me. Drastic changes. Lifelong changes. Changes that didn't come easy for this strong-willed, git 'er done, over-achiever type personality. And from being in the trenches with many of you, I realize I am not alone.

I had to learn to say no in order to say yes. Saying yes to sensory play that is connecting meant saying no to folding the laundry right then. Saying yes to a bike ride in the park meant saying no to chatting on the phone with my best friend. Saying yes to the twentieth request to build a fort with all the living room furniture and every blanket we owned meant saying no to my concern about how long it would take to put it all away.

Saying yes means letting go. Saying yes means we may have to learn to be better at delegating some tasks. It may mean we have to hire some help with the weekly chores and even daily responsibilities. It could even mean we have to let some of our friends and ministries say yes to us, rather than pretending this journey hasn't turned our world upside down.

Most days I tend to curse most of what accompanies the MS journey. But one thing I've learned and am actually thankful for on this path has been learning to ration energy for the things that are important to me. Christine Miserandino (a like-minded Italian girl I'm guessin') writes a beautiful story called The Spoon Theoryto help those dealing with chronic health issues. It was like Christine peered right into my soul when I first read her captivating story. I took this theory a step further and had to learn to ration my emotional "spoons" as well. I recently shared this story with a group of adoptive and foster moms, and I recommend that we all learn to ration our emotional energy in a similar way.

How can we use our supply of yeses wisely?

If we say yes to making six dozen individually decorated Oreo Cookie/Reese's Peanut Butter Cup/colored licorice feather turkey treats for the second graders, can we say yes to a child who is still afraid to sleep alone? If we say yes to holding a friend's hand through a long and painful divorce, can we say yes to our bio children who are losing patience with yet another sibling meltdown? If we say yes to leading a new ministry at church - even one we have the experience and skill set for, can we say yes to meeting the ongoing and unique needs of a child with sensory processing disorder? I think I said yes to some run-on sentences in this paragraph, but some days this journey feels like one, long run-on sentence, huh?

Saying no is not easy. Some will understand; some won't, but saying yes today to our children from early harm can give birth to the skills they will need for many tomorrows.

What ideas can you share that have helped you manage your supply of yeses?

P.S. Do say yes to self-care, but that's a topic for another day….