David Staal relates this story in his article Great Parenting Advice You’ll Never Admit to Reading:
A mom at church recently asked me for parental advice. Specifically, she wanted to know how to make her young son stop a pattern of inappropriate behavior.
I sipped my coffee as she described his actions, concentrating on how I might help her. Actually, I strained to understand the complexity of her situation—but none existed. So I asked a simple, but jarring, question: “Have you firmly told him ‘no’ when he does that, and then showed him you mean business?”
I nearly choked on my coffee at her response: “I don’t know; he’s pretty sensitive.”
Staal goes on to describe what a child might eventually look like who never gets told “No.” And it’s not a pretty picture:
The words adults need to hear on this topic: kids will still like you even after you say no. If your relationship with a child hinges on avoiding that word, you have deeper issues that need to be addressed.
It’s our job as parents (one we accepted when we took on the responsibility of having a child) is to raise them to obey. The key to that is telling them “yes” when appropriate and “no” when appropriate. It seems to many people, David Staal included, that parents are abdicating their role of disciplining and shaping their children to others. However, the “others” don’t have as much influence as parents do. It’s in the crucible of regular, routine life that shaping children occurs.
My kids are young, and the best thing my wife and I can do right now in raising our young children is to teach them to simply obey.