Saying “YES” in difficult family situations

I recently conducted a “Say YES to everything – on your own terms” seminar based on the material from “”Just say “NO” isn’t as simple as it seems” article.  For the seminar, I added several family oriented scenarios.

In the previous article we talked about the advice “Just Say No” to things when you’re feeling overwhelmed.   We mentioned saying “no” to life and its opportunities is a resistive, defensive and negative attitude producing additional stress. But sometimes it’s difficult to imagine how to say “YES” in certain circumstances.   But with practice, it becomes easier.

Family Oriented Scenarios:

Here are some additional scenarios to illustrate “Say YES” in family situations.

  1. Your 11 year old son wants to go to a new friend’s house to watch an R rated Ninja movie.  The new friend is 14 and the get-together will be unsupervised.
  2. Your 17 year old daughter is about to go to a party.  She’s been a typical teenager and not forthcoming on the type of party it will be.
  3. Your 15 your old son is planning a prank at school.
  4. Your 20 year old daughter isn’t going to work or school.  She is living at home and has the attitude that she can do whatever she wants because she’s an adult now.
  5. Your spouse wants to live on the ocean and you want to live in the city.

How do I “Say Yes to everything – on my own terms” in these cases?

Clearly articulate your goal:

One suggestion is clearly articulate your goal or purpose in raising your children.  One example could be:

“My dominate intent is to help my children have a wonderful life.  I want them to be happy, healthy and safe.  Therefore, I must find a way of helping them to empower themselves – by helping them to seek their own guidance, not mine. “

Scenario 1) Keeping your purpose and dominate intention in mind, figure out what is making you uncomfortable about this situation.

You’ve taking your son to similar Ninja movies.   The R rating doesn’t really bother you; the rating is because of the choreographed violence.  You and your son have discussed this stuff in the past.  You’re not concerned about that. It’s that the visit is unsupervised and you have not met the family yet (either his friend or the parents).  The fact that the new friend is a few years older is also a little concerning.

“I think it’s great that you found a new friend.  I understand this new friend just recently moved into town and is new in school.  I’ve very proud that you went out of your way to make him feel welcomed.  I know he is a bit older, which made it all the more difficult for you to approach him and be his friend.  I’m really proud of you.  I bet he doesn’t have many friends yet.  I’ve also heard lots of good things about that Ninja movie.  I think you will really like it.

As always, I want you to be happy, healthy and safe.  So – what I’m concerned about is the safety part.  I don’t feel good about the get-together being unsupervised. That’s the part that is bothering me.  …”


“Yes – Yes  — I know that your new friend is 14 years old.  And his parents are obviously comfortable with leaving him alone and unsupervised.  BUT – I haven’t met him or his parents, yet.  And I don’t know how he how he behaves when his parents are not around.  ‘Because he is 14’ – just doesn’t do it for me.  After I meet him and get to know his folks, I will be much more comfortable.  But – right now – I’m not comfortable.  I want you safe.  Let’s try to figure out a way that we both can be happy about you spending time with this new friend.

What if I called the parents and figured out a way that the stay-over is supervised.  If they cannot be there, I’ll be happy to go over there.  If they are uncomfortable having a stranger in their house, we can have the stay-over here.  That way you still get to visit with your friend and watch the movie.

Maybe you have another idea?  Let’s figure this out together.

Scenario 2) Keeping your purpose and dominate intention in mind, figure out what is making you uncomfortable about this situation.

Even though your daughter has been a typical teenager, you trust that she has a good head on her shoulders.  She’s a good athlete and takes care of her body.   She is conscientious about what she puts in her body.  Her future in sports is important to her.  You trust her.  Your concern is “the others”.  You realize that there probably will be drinking or possibly drugs at this party.  You want to keep her safe, happy and healthy.

“That party sounds like a lot of fun.  And I’m really glad you’re taking time to let loose and have some fun.  You’ve been working so hard on school and your sports.  Like I said before — Congratulations on that final exam score.  With all the other things you were juggling (school, sports, part-time job), keeping your grades up like that is amazing.  You’re amazing.  You deserve some time with friends.

But my main intention is that you be happy, healthy and safe.  So – the thing that is bothering me in this case is that – well – I know friends at this age experiment with alcohol and drugs.  You being an athlete, I know you’re really careful what you put into your body.  I know you don’t want to jeopardize any scholarship or tournament wins over one party night.  I know you have inner guidance that has gotten you this far and will continue to guide you toward even greater success.  I know all of that.  I feel really good about all of that.  But I also want to keep you safe. I also know about group-think and peer pressure.  So —  if something happens at the party that makes you uncomfortable or makes you feel “off” (going against your inner guidance) in any way, can we figure out a safe exit plan for you?  Would you feel comfortable calling me at any hour to pick you up?  Or do you feel better calling Aunt Sally?  Or maybe we make a pact that you will walk over next door to Mrs. Johnson’s house and stay there until Aunt Sally picks you up?  Let’s figure out an escape plan that we both feel good about – to keep you both safe and happy.”

Scenario 3)  Keeping your purpose and dominate intention in mind, figure out what is making you uncomfortable about this situation.  Boys will be boys.  Often times “pulling a prank” is the “admission fee” into the “cool gang”.

“Keith.  Thank you for coming to me with this situation.  It’s quite a dilemma.  Tell me why you want to do this prank?”

“Yeah – I sure wouldn’t want to be seen as a whuss either.  But what do you think would happen – as a consequence – of this prank?  Do you think you will get expelled or just detention?”

“Yeah – I think you’re probably right.  Detention should be about right, although Principle Jager tends to make examples of folks this time of year.   Getting detention also means you’ll be missing football practice.  Coach Stephens kicks folks off the team that miss 3 practices.  You’ve already missed?? How many now?? – ah 2 practices.  So this will be three.  How do you feel about that?  I guess that’s okay if you no longer want to play football.   Are you still interested in playing football?”

“ah – okay.  Well – I can’t tell you what to do, but pulling this prank doesn’t seem in line with your overall goal to stay on the team.  And that’s were all those cool folks are.  Let see if we can’t figure out a way to avoid the prank and save face with the cool gang.”

NOTE – This is a modification from a real-life story shared by a friend of mine.  Her son was engineering a “food-fight” at lunch.  After talking it out with her, he decided to secretly inform a teacher in the morning.  The teachers then had all the classes each lunch in their rooms that day.  The “food-fight” prank was neutralized, and he saved face.  I think that was pretty cool.

Scenario 4)  Keeping your purpose and dominate intention in mind, figure out what is making you uncomfortable about this situation.

At this age your daughter is an adult.

At this age, they need to seek their own guidance, not yours.  At the same time, you don’t feel like enabling this attitude of entitlement and disrespect.  You’re stuck with the idea “My Home, My Rules”.  She’s stuck on the idea “I’m an adult. You cannot tell me what to do.”  You guys are both right to feel the way you do.  It’s an uncomfortable situation for everyone.

“Honey, you are right.  You are an adult.  And I do want you to seek your own guidance, and follow your own path.  I do want you to stand-on-own, provide for yourself, and answer to yourself.  You are right.

Responsible adults that “stand-on-their-own” pay for their room and board.  If you were living on your own, you would have to pay rent, groceries, and clothing.  You would do your laundry; pay your gas, electric, phone and entertainment bills.  Right now, you don’t have a job, so it’s hard for you to move out of my house.  I understand that.  If you had stayed in school, you could probably get a better paying job and afford a better place to life. Or even afford to move out faster.

I also know that sometimes landlords use bartering systems to give tenants a break in the rent.  For instance, if the tenant keeps the law mowed and does repairs around the house, the landlord takes XX amount off on the rent.  So – I think you should look for another place to live.  Finding a job that pays well, will enable you to move out and live on your own.

In the meantime – while you are looking, let’s come up with a landlord-tenant agreement of our own.  Let’s work something out that will make this living condition livable for both of us.

Let’s start with $xxxx for both room and board per month. We can negotiate various forms of bartering to reduce the monthly rent.  For instance, I pay XX for mowing the lawn, XX for grades B and above.  I pay XX for housekeeping.  I pay XX for etc.  What else can we include as barter.”

“Ah – yes – appreciate that you enjoy doing that, but I don’t really need that job done.  So there’s no value for me in paying for that task.  What other things can you think of? … Yes – that’s a great idea.  I would like that done.  Yes….let’s put that down.”

“ Okay – So whatever you commit to and accomplish, will be deducted from that month’s rent.  If rent is late, there is a $xx fee for every week it’s late.  If you are X weeks late, eviction process will start.  “

**If you are uncomfortable taking money from your children, place the rent collection in a savings account for them.  Then surprise them with it when they do move out.

Scenario 5)  You and your spouse seems to have opposite desires regarding where to live.

Read the article “Compromising often leaves both sides wanting “ for the answer to the above.


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