I wish I knew where I heard this first, but it was many years ago when my older ones were young. I'd like to give credit where it is due, but I simply cannot remember.
This is the rule of thumb I rely on when my children ask me if they can do something.
Always say yes unless you have a good reason to say no.
It has worked for me all these years that I thought I would share it with you. It makes it so much easier when they ask me for permission to do something when both of us know the answer is yes unless I have an excellent reason to deny them.
I want my kids to experience anything and everything they can in this life. I don't want them to be sheltered or under-privileged. I want them to do things that freak them out (in a good way) and that challenge them to work hard and get what they want.
I will give you some actual examples so that you know what I am talking about:
Sometimes the littlest ones come to me with those sweet little cherub faces and ask if they can play outside. If I can drop what I'm doing and sit outside with them and watch them play, the answer is always yes. If I am in the middle of making dinner then obviously the answer is no. If I am just sitting on FaceBook on the computer and they ask, the answer should be yes. Sitting on the computer (watching t.v. reading a book, etc.) are not good enough reasons for them to not be able to go outside (in my opinion). So we go. This one is a no-brainer to me.
My point is, that unless I have what "I" (or you) consider to be a good reason, then I let the kids play outside. As long as I'm going outside, I may even take them to the park or simply go on a walk with them.
When it comes to older kids, this is where I have had to really test my theory out a lot. We have an extra car that we let our kids drive when they get their license. Along with that comes certain responsibilities to ensure they are able to drive that car when they want to. When they ask to go out in the evenings, I generally know who they are with, where they are going and when they will be home. If any of these are not answered, then I have the right to say no. Danger for my child's safety or concern over questionable friends and their habits would be a good reason to say no, obviously.
I can't say that I have ever had a good example of a situation where I told them no and then something really bad happened and they were blessed for not getting into that situation. I'm sure there have been times when I have been impressed to tell them no but then was also able to back it with a good reason. Having said that, I know that if I felt impressed to tell them no but had no good reason to back it with, I would follow that prompting. Some people call it mother's intuition, I call it a whisper of the spirit that comes from the gift of the Holy Ghost. If you want to understand that more fully, click on the link.
One of the best things I have ever done is tell them yes even when something was too expensive. When my daughter wanted to take extra tumbling classes, I told her she absolutely could, as long as she paid for it herself. It took the financial burden off of me and released me of the emotional burden that I sometimes get from telling them no. It doesn't mean that I don't pitch in when I can or help her find ways to earn money, it just puts the effort on her shoulders and not mine. I rarely use the "I have no money" excuse. Even when the candy man comes around playing his annoying music and selling my kids over-priced junk food, and my kids come running to me begging me for money so they can buy a snack. I open the fridge and say,
"Of course you can have a snack, I have fresh apples and oranges, there are some bananas on the counter, you can make yourself a piece of toast or have a bowl of cereal and save your money!"
"But we want CANDY mom!!"
"But candy will rot your teeth and is full of empty calories and no nutrition" I say.
I always say yes unless I have a good reason. When my fridge is empty and there is some change in my purse, sometimes I do splurge:)
One thing I want to make clear is that I never use the reason "because I said so" as a reason to say no. I think it lessens my authority as their mother and the truth of it is, it isn't a reason at all. It's like saying I don't really have a good reason, I am just saying no because I feel like it.
Over the years, I have had to tell my children "no" a lot of the time, but I find that I am willing to let them do things that seem out of MY comfort zone simply because I didn't have a good reason to say no. I am happy to say that I have yet to find a flaw in my theory and I am continually looking for one.
That is why I always say yes, unless I have a good reason to say no.