Monday, January 16, 2012

Saying Yes

Ro at Bay Area Discovery Museum
As Rowan becomes more of an individuated person and less of a baby, I struggle with the line between keeping him safe and saying yes. Often as an adult with my own agenda and chores, it is easier to say no to my son for my own convenience as a default- and I do not want that to be the case. I need to stop and think before I respond to Rowan and ask myself, "Is this a no because it would be bad for him to do such a thing, or is this a no because it is inconvenient for me in the moment?"

Ro at the Cal Academy of Sciences.

While having my own time and space is important, when I decided to have a child, I also decided to put some of my own stuff aside to make space for another person and their needs. Sometimes, his needs trump mine and sometimes vice versa. But I have decided that if his needs are merely coming an inconvenient time, that is not necessarily enough of a reason to say no.

For example, if I am hungry and my adult agenda is to fix dinner in an efficient manner, and Rowan's kid agenda is to "help" me cook, instead of saying no, I will grab a cheese stick to allay my immediate hunger and instead say yes. I am working hard to become a "yes mama" and creating a culture of yes and can-do in my home. I want Rowan to grow into a self-sufficient, confident person and that only comes with experience. My job, I have decided, is to say yes whenever possible.

In the Pagan Playdate Suite, PantheaCon 2011
This concept is applying more and more as he grows. He is almost two (just two short weeks- how is that possible?) and is already working on "preschool" concepts like colors, shapes, the alphabet, and numbers and counting. I am trying to create a culture of yes while teaching him- and that means leaning towards an "unschooling" method. Yes, I have manipulatives and curricula, but I try and introduce it organically and make it a game. As soon as he tires of the game, we move onto something else. Learning should be fun and something he wants to do. And so far, he is leaps and bounds ahead of his same-age peers. It seems to be working!

My approach is affecting how I am designing my homeschool curricula (that I hope to publish in a year or so). While I am writing for families other than my own, I am trying to provide a framework loose enough for experimentation and activities diverse enough to entice many kinds of kids. My son is a great teacher!


  1. I know I am certainly guilty of this, something I must work on as well! Great post!

    Thank you for linking up to Pagan Pages Blog Hop!


  2. I raised my children with yes, and as part of that I unschooled (which I still do). Thirteen years later, and I have learned a big bad lesson. I'm going to sound preachy here, but honestly I don't mean to be. It's just my experience, which deeply shocked me, because I was such a devout adherent to the child-centred yes philosophy.

    As my children grew older, I realised they missed out by not having no sometimes. They needed to shape their boundaries and deal with small disappointments so they could handle bigger ones when those come along. They also needed to see that other people's agendas were as important as theirs.

    Also, saying yes is easy when they are little and you are both safe in your home cocoon, but once the world starts to come in ... I thought by raising my children with a can-do attitude, they would positively affect the world. I forgot they would meet the world as little children. And the world would try to crush them. Being raised with yes made very confident little children ... and older children who didn't have any experience in dealing with disappointment and loss, with delayed gratification, and with other people forcing their agenda on them ... it led to unhappy people.

    All of which makes me sound like I'm trying to dissuade you from it - truly, I'm not. I praise you for being a loving and thoughtful mother. Everyone's circumstances are different, and what didn't work for me might work beautifully for you. I wish you every success - I say "yes" to you. :-)

  3. Well done and keep going! So happy for you and Your Son.

  4. For me, it depends on the circumstances in whether or not I say yes or no. If it's truly an inconvienience, like if I'm cooking dinner and Mike isn't here to help, I have no choice but to say no (but also tell them why). It's usually an accepted response for them, and they'll just ask again at a time they feel I'm not really that busy. Which is good for my kids, because they can be extremely impatient.

  5. Thanks for all the thoughtful comments, everyone! I am not confusing saying yes with not setting boundaries and limits. All children need those. But part of me saying yes means thinking in advance and anticipating how to say yes and setting up my home so that I can say yes more. Like in the example of dinner. Keeping a specific counter clear and building a helping tower allows me to say yes more often, because I planned for it.

    I understand it is going to be a lot harder as Rowan gets older, both to keep him safe and say yes AND for me emotionally (I want to keep him safe!). I already have a hard time watching the news and hearing about what happens out there in the world to children. Ugh.


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