Stay Mom, Go Mom, Yes Mom, No Mom

I’m a NO mom.

When my kids come to me with a question and I am too involved in what I’m doing to really answer, my go to answer is “no.”

Now, lest you think I’m selfish and I should drop what I’m doing and give my children the time they need, I’m not talking about every situation, I’m talking about the times I’ve got my hands elbow deep in dinner and trying to read a recipe, or when I’m helping one of them with their homework and trying to figure out what the homework gods are looking for when they say “explain your answer” and another child asks something like, “can I watch a movie?”

Even if it’s something good, even if it’s something logical, if I can’t think fast enough to be logical I almost always say “no.”


Because, I’m afraid if I say yes, I’m risking something, obligating myself to something I can’t fulfill, or in for a whole new set of questions about what can I watch and how long and who can watch it with me and can you turn the TV on for me? So my simple answer is “no.” My less simple answer goes something like, “no, ask me later.” Still pretty simple though. The problem with being a “no” mom is that kids don’t give up and they don’t have any concept of what I meant by “later.” I usually have to gather my wits a bit better and say, “no, now go upstairs and play until I can deal with your question better.”

Sitting down with my sister (mother of 5) the other day we had a conversation about this. Her approach is the opposite of mine and I see it’s merits.

She is a “YES” mom. When she’s feeding her daughter in a wheelchair and homeschooling the other kids, if another one approaches with a “can I” question, she typically says yes, without considering what it is at all. The beauty of being a “yes” mom is that the children are happy and run off to do whatever it is they asked and they leave you to finish what you are doing. Her kids do KNOW the parameters of their play, but they also know she’s pretty busy and it’s hard for her to follow up on what she said “yes” to. Sometimes she finds herself cleaning up messes she gave them permission to make.

So, neither is a perfect answer for every situation. There is no perfect answer. Perfect would be having a brain for each child to go to for answers.

What I’m striving to do, is teach my kids when it’s an appropriate time to ask and when it’s best to be patient. They aren’t there yet, and I’m not always the best teacher, but we’re getting there.

So…what kind of mom are you? Is your go to answer “yes” or “no” when you’re occupied with things your children can’t see for some reason? What negatives and positives have you seen when you answer too quickly?

8 thoughts on “Stay Mom, Go Mom, Yes Mom, No Mom

  1. I’m a yes mom. I have to have a good reason to say no to their request because I don’t like “no” as my plan. I see flaws in my plan too though. The kids play way too many video games 🙂

  2. I’m a “not right now” Mom.

    I’m not prepared to answer yes or no and I need them to wait for later for what they asked. They get excited because they know they still have a chance at what they want. The negative is they come back as ask again or they don’t ask again and later want to know why they didn’t get to do what I agreed to “not right now.”

    Their different reactions:
    Ben (5): YES! She said not right now!
    Allie (11): That means NO.
    Silas (9): No it doesn’t. It means maybe.
    G.G. (7): I dont want to do it anyway.

  3. I had to think about this some. I think I’m a “maybe mom” 🙂 But I have taught my kids a system when I’m in conversation or in the middle of something. Instead of interrupting me, they can come up and squeeze my hand to let me know they need to talk. I squeeze back to let them know I know they need me and will stop as soon as it’s appropriate to interrupt the person I’m talking with and focus on them. Now that the big kids are older, we hardly ever need this, but it worked for us, and now I’m having to start with the little one.

  4. Amy – I edited your comment…hope you don’t mind. I wanted to publish it and I will keep the original content to myself.

    Wendy – I do say “maybe” occasionally too, but I get that same reaction. They keep coming back.

    Becky – I love your system. May need to implement that at the Kelso house.

  5. I am a no mom. I find it disrespectful for my kids to intentionally throw request at me when they know I am busy. And I don’t mean reading a book or on fb. Kids are smart and know when to ask. They also need to learn there is a right time. With 5 kids and one on the way there is an order in which things need to flow. My 13 year old would not appreciate me throwing questions @ him while he is doing his homework and so on. There has to be a balance and respect.

  6. I am a yes mom, but Chris is a no dad, so we balance each other nicely. The consequence for me usually ends up just being a messy house or unfolded laundry and those are things I’m willing to live with. I am aware, though, that as my kids are getting older, their requests are maturing and consequences of a yes that isn’t well-thought-out could me I am car-less or no longer have that $20 bill in my wallet!

  7. I’m a “hide in the bathroom and cry while two toddlers are knocking on the door” mom. No! I’m just kidding. I only did that once and I was pregnant with Christopher at the time.

    I think I’m probably a no mom, just b/c I know our evenings are so short that if we don’t stick with our routine and get the three main things accomplished (homework, dinner, chores) we’ll be ordering McDonalds delivery at 7 p.m. again. While convenient it’s not a healthy habit.

  8. Very interesting question. I am glad I don’t have the constant Can I questions anymore; but I miss it too. I think I was a “don’t interrupt me” mom. I agree that it is disrespectful, but they are trained as to what they can do by the parent. My kids tapped and waited for an answer. Then they got what they wanted most of the time.

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