Mom Sayings - On Being a Mom Who Can Say No to Her Kids

Thoughts and Tips for Being a No Mom

We have a joke around our house about mom sayings and mom talks. These conversations happen before bed or in the van or at a restaurant or while we make dinner. We chat about life, questions, thoughts, culture, trends and whatever else comes up throughout the day.

Mom sayings and mom talks are invaluable for our kids as they grow, learn, develop and start making decisions for themselves. I’m learning that these talks and sayings actually mean more when your kids know you can tell them no, give them boundaries, help them make good choices and give them bigger perspective on the world around them.

Conversations with our kids are ways that we can see their hearts, find out who they’re becoming and pray about how God can use us in their young lives. Our mom sayings play into the bigger picture of their growing up years.

But if you’ve been browsing through parenting posts around the web, there’s a lot out there about being a yes mom. I love the “be a yes mom” posts. For the most part, I agree.

We should say yes. Let them get dirty. Let them wear crazy, mismatched clothing. Let them eat ice cream for breakfast. Let them stomp in the puddles and play in the rain. Let them build blanket forts and cover the floor with legos. Let them stay up late into the night watching Marvel movies or playing some strategy game with dad.

Having fun, doing crazy things, adventuring and playing are all huge parts of our family life. My girls can wear crazy colors with the best of them.

Mom Sayings - On Being a Mom Who Can Say No to Her Kids

But sometimes, as moms, we have to say no. Our kids need to hear no. They need to have boundaries, rules, structure and “do not cross” lines that guide how they make decisions each day.

I fully admit to saying no regularly to my girls. {I even say no to chores!} But each no is with purpose, discussion, thought and a lot of prayer.

Saying no doesn’t have to be all negative! In fact, many times, you don’t even need to say the word no. You can use positive conversation to bring about discussion, compromises, and life lessons. These things build character, trust, honesty and a strong foundation for the parenting years to come.

Being a no mom will reap huge rewards in the futures of our children. It takes some time, creativity, patience and prayer. But it’s a worthy investment in the hearts of our kids.

They will reap the reward throughout their entire time on this earth and for eternity.

Mom Sayings - On Being a Mom Who Can Say No to Her Kids

Life isn’t just about being told yes. There is so much more to learn…

In fact, teaching our kids the value of no will often teach them more than we can teach them by saying yes.

As do dad sayings… or mottoes as we like to call them. We have a handful that we refer to in our home.

I know that being a no mom is a bold statement in this popular season of “saying yes”… but I must say it’s true.

Why is saying no one of my favorite mom sayings? How can we apply this to our family life and the framework of our home?

I’m a no mom and here is why:

1. God’s Word is full of no’s. I know that isn’t very popular. But it is true. The word no in God’s Word will set the spiritual framework for their lives. Learning to heed God’s Word will train them in the way they should go and it will keep them safe. It will guide them and lead them. Obeying God when He tells us no is an intricate part of learning to live for God. From what we watch to what we do to what we say and how we think… God’s Word tells us no over and over again. Our kids need to know that God the Father tells us no because of His great love for us. He tells us no because He knows what is best for us. He tells us no because He is holy. He tells us no. often. The yes’s are mixed in for sure… but when God says no, we need to listen. And our kids need to learn that from day 1.

2. Learning to hear no will change the focus from self to others. I can’t stress this more. When we tell our kids yes for their every little whim, we teach them to focus on themselves. on what they want. on what they feel. on what they see right in that moment. When they hear yes to their every idea and their every wish, we give them the disservice of selfishness and not selflessness. Telling them no and giving them the reasons why reminds them that this moment is bigger than themselves. By teaching them to focus on others, we give them the gift of looking up, looking around, factoring the best of the people around them and making good, solid, healthy decisions based on truth.

3. Life is not about them. Partner this with number 2. Life is NOT about them. The world does NOT revolve around them. And when kids are told yes repeatedly, the effects shine brightly when they are with other people. When told yes repeatedly, kids can’t see anything but what they want, when they want it and how they want it. Our kids need to learn the give and take of life. They need to understand the complications in relationships of just wanting and getting their way of doing things. They need to learn flexibility and understanding and compromising and friendship. Being told no and teaching kids how to react when told no will go a long way in preparing them for life in the real world.

4. Being told no teaches kids to be thankful for what they have. And thankfulness is something greatly missing in our world. Thankfulness teaches joy in the little things, joy in the moment, joy in the experience without having an agenda of their wants, needs, desires, wishes and lists. Telling our kids no helps them be thankful for the big things and let the little things go.

5. Telling our kids no changes their expectations. When kids learn to expect a yes, they begin to run their own days and do their own thing. Instead, we need to help our kids change their expectations and remember that they are a piece of the puzzle… not the whole thing. They are team players, group members, and family builders. One day when they are in the workplace dealing with a boss or working out differences in their marriage, they will thank you.

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6. Hearing and respecting the word no will teach kids about healthy authority. God has placed leaders in their lives to set boundaries, uphold God’s standard and build a strong framework for the Biblical foundation they need in life. Mom and Dad most generally know what is best. The Holy Spirit guides parents to help our kids through different situations and often, saying yes, is not the right way to help our kids learn what God is teaching them.

7. Waiting builds character. Good character. Our kids need to learn to wait. Wait for a good deal on the toy they are saving for. Wait for a better time to play that game. Wait for their friend to play. Wait for mom to finish what she is doing. Wait for the adults to be ready. Wait. Wait for the group. Wait a better day to play at the park. Wait for the movie to come out on DVD. Wait until Mommy has the time to help them. And sometimes waiting means it won’t happen at all. Kids need to know how to handle disappointment and struggle and changes in plans. They need to know that just because something didn’t happen didn’t mean it was a bad day. They need to hear no, respect it and be able to control their emotions. They need to except situations with grace and patience. And telling them no, helping them learn, guiding them in their young years will bring great profits as they grow older.

Mom Sayings - On Being a Mom Who Can Say No to Her Kids

Updated to add: Now that my girls are teenagers, these principles have come alive. I don’t say no all that often anymore because they are able to make good, strong, valuable choices for themselves. They can manage their time and tell themselves no if they need to. They’ve learned how to think things through, see different sides of something and enjoy freedom within healthy boundaries. It’s not always perfect and we still have these conversations, but I’m so thankful we started out with healthy, positive no’s in their early years!

Check out 13 Habits That Raise Well-Adjusted Kids

8. Saying no in the little things is a good idea. It is in the simple training ground of our home that I can set the framework for when they are handling the bigger decisions of life.  I want them to know that when I say “No, you can’t play for 5 more minutes.” that they need to respect our family timeline for the day and not whine but simply obey. I want them to know that when I say, “No, you can’t play in the mud today.” that I’m not being mean but that we won’t have time for showers before we go to church that night. They need to be okay with respecting my reasons and my timeline and my hopes for the day over their own. When I say, “No, we aren’t pulling out the crafts right now.” or “No, you can’t go over there and play. You need to sit and wait while I finish talking.” I am teaching them much, much bigger life lessons that can not be taught by saying yes.

9. Parenting Ahead. This works well in the area of saying no. Explain boundaries ahead of time. Honestly. Parenting ahead happens before bed or on our way to an activity. We have a good conversation about what to expect for the day. Giving them the information they need to be prepared. Give them the schedule as best you know it. Give them the timeline. Give them the goal for the outing or the day. Is it grocery shopping and errands? Then help them know ahead of time what you expect and what their boundaries are. They will get very good at telling themselves no, having patience, looking at the big picture and being thankful for whatever the day brings, even if it isn’t exactly what they wanted.

10. The world is big. Help your kids have a bigger world view. Let them see how kids around the world live. Give them a burden for others, for missions, for people, for real treasure built up in heaven. Help them open their eyes to truth. To really see people. Remind them that heavenly things are at play every day. Life is not about things, but people. Life is about what God wants to do through them not what they want from life.

So say yes. Have fun days. Give your kids amazing memories.

But don’t forget the value of saying no, of weaving no into the fabric of your family and your parenting.

Saying no is a valuable and important part of raising our kids.

Are you a no mom?

How do you weave no into your parenting in a positive, healthy way?




  1. Although I’m not sure you read the whole post, I can say that you are right! Kids are not stupid. And they sure do need to be taught to discern right and wrong, yes and no for themselves. Which, if you read the post or more of my blog, you can tell we have lots of discussions about everything under the sun! I’m seeing as my girls are now in their teen years, they don’t really even need to ask permission now. They’ve learned from the hundreds of “mom talks” as they call them, and they are making amazing decisions all on their own. I am super proud of my girls and daily thankful for balancing yes and no through their younger years. No is a part of life and helping them realize that early in life has had a dramatic effect on how they process decisions as they get older. Could they still “go wild”? I suppose they could. But it wouldn’t be because they haven’t been taught how to make decisions or the consequences of their actions. Thanks for sharing your thoughts though!

  2. Balance is so incredibly difficult to find! I’m a huge believer in picking our battles but, like you, I want my children to understand that “no” and acceptance are vital life skills. My two oldest are learning a bit of this organically as they live beside their younger brother, who has significant special needs. Although, lately, I’ve found myself over-compensating in the other direction to make up for my own ill perceived guilt over all the things we’re saying “no” to lately. Which is really just my long way of saying this post really resonated with my heart this morning. Thank you for sharing truth in love. <3

  3. What a great post! I especially love number 3: Life is not about them. That, hands down, is so important to me. I desire to raise my children to know the world does not revolve around them. Thank you for sharing this!

  4. I agree 110%! We’ve always been of the mindset that life hands you more “no” than “yes” and we wanted our kids to be competent and able to handle life when it is a no. Yes that means sometimes I look like the mean mom but that moment passes and they still love me just the same.

    No is a part of life so why as parents wouldn’t we make it a part of our children’s lives growing up in a controlled environment? Our job is to prepare them for life outside of our home. That doesn’t mean you can’t throw in yes to things here and there and honestly it makes the yes that much more special.

    1. No is a huge part of life and we really harm our kids by not teaching them while they are young some of these principles. Principles that can only be taught through hearing no sometimes… and often even. Thanks for sharing!! Miss you!!

  5. Great reminder!
    It’s amazing how as a mom we can be pulled in so many directions! As the Lord gives us wisdom we are able to parent in his Grace, I pray we listen closely to his guidance and his example as He is our Heavenly Father, he alone can teach us how to parent like he parents us.

    1. Exactly! His wisdom and His grace all over it. I pray every day for the ability to parent each of the girls in the way that He would have me to for that day. I have just been reminded recently of the amazing, powerful, life-long lessons we can teach by simply saying no sometimes. Not that we can’t say yes… I love all the yes’s!! But no is a lesson we can help them with right in our home as God leads us to direct them along His path for their lives. Thanks so much for sharing!!

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