When Possible, Say Yes!


This month, we’ve been focusing on the word YES.

Unfortunately, yes has become a dirty word for many working moms.  Some of us think we don’t have time for yes.  Yet saying NO by default can be self-limiting and even create barriers at home and at work.

Last year, a Supreme Court Justice challenged me to say yes, even when it’s hard at work.  Similarly, as a young adult, I received some powerful advice — about saying yes — from a respected Christian leader.  I commented on how wonderful he and his wife had raised their five children.  I asked him his secret.

His answer surprised me.

“We don’t have lots of rules.  When possible, we try to tell our kids YES.”

He went on to explain that he and his wife save NO for issues that involve safety, health, and morality.  They didn’t have trivial rules, artificial bedtimes, or heavy chores.  They didn’t have complicated discipline charts and behavioral point systems.  They tried to keep it simple.  They tried to say yes when possible.  And I’ve never forgotten his advice.

Now that I have a teenage son (and two daughters who aren’t far behind him), it’s tempting to just say NO by default.  You can’t stay out past 10:30.  You can’t listen to that kind of music.  You can’t have a new iPhone.  You can’t watch that movie.  

He is hearing no all too often.  No is easy.  No is safe.  No gives him necessary boundaries.

But I don’t want to become a mom of no.  So I have to work hard to say yes to the little things.  Even when it’s inconvenient.  I must admit, it’s easier to say yes to my daughters.  It’s easy to say yes to little things — to braid their hair, paint their nails, or lie in bed with them for five minutes. But a teenage boy is different.  So I have to work even harder to say yes.  It usually revolves around food.  Like on Saturday night when Nick wants to make bacon at 11:00 p.m.   This is the last thing I want to do.  I’m tired.  I want to go to bed.  The kitchen will be a greasy mess, and I’ll be cleaning until midnight.

But bacon at midnight is not a moral fight.  It’s not going to kill me (or him).  It might even be fun.   So I get out the frying pan, albeit reluctantly, and I turn on the stove.  I remind myself to follow my own advice:  when possible, say yes!

He said it was the best bacon he’d had in a long time.


Do you try to say YES when possible?  When’s the last time you had bacon at midnight? 



I'm an author who writes about the working mom's struggle to live out an authentic Christian faith in a complex and fast-paced world. I live in constant need of grace, caffeine, and technology -- usually in that order.
  • dakotapam

    I’ve worked on this, and it really is a game changer. It usually requires me to hesitate for a beat, because, like many moms, “no” is the default. Than you for the encouraging words!

    • http://www.susandimickele.com Susan DiMickele

      Thanks so much for your feedback. Glad to know it is working for you. I understand that it’s easier said than done!