Nina Lost Her "No" Button


Children’s children are a crown to the aged, and parents are the pride of their children. (Proverbs 17:6 NIV)

I used to know how to say “no” quite well. When our children were young, I felt the full weight of responsibility on my shoulders to help shape and mold them into productive, sweet, kind, loving, gracious Christian women. Parenting instructions at the time informed me that enabling them to attain all these marvelous attributes meant saying “no.” A lot. Being firm. Making sure they obeyed. Came when called. No getting away with bad behavior. Providing consequences. I could “no” with the best of them. Second slice of dessert? No. Jump on the bed and hurt yourself or the bed? No. Get out of bed for an extra hug? No. A third glass of water after lights out, please? No, again.

Now I’m a Nina. Four of my grandchildren are currently living with us. Of course, they are adorable, just like the two who don’t live with me. And somehow, I seem to have lost the ability to say “no.” Jump on the bed? Um. Well, be careful dears. Extra water? Of course, honey. Read another book … oh look you brought me seven books. Well, yes! I’ll read all seven. I’m a complete pushover for these darlings. What in the world has happened?

A number of things have transpired in the decades between then and now. First of all, I regret that I was harsher than I needed to be with my own dear girls. Sure, firmness was needed at times, but sometimes my firmness was to be in control and not because it was best for them. I’d like to not repeat that, thank you. Second, I realize that my time with my grandchildren is short. I have the privilege of living with four of them for a year, but normally they all live far away and visits are not frequent. I want to be remembered by them as one who showed kindness and grace—not temper and fussiness. Third, I’m (thankfully) no longer the one in charge. The primary duty of discipline and training is their parents’ responsibility, not mine. My job is to learn the standards the parents have set and enforce them as best I can. Both my girls are kinder than I was, and I love the way they love their children. I want to be like them in extending grace and patience.

Oh, how I agree with our verse above. My children’s children are a “crown” and a joy to this Nina! How I want the second part of that verse to be true as well, that my children would be proud of me and the way I grandparent. I want to honor their parenting decisions and be a blessing to them as best I can. And that means … I do need to find that “no” button. Really. [Sigh.] At times it’s still needed, and what a struggle it can be to say that little, two-letter word.

Lord, help us, no matter what stage of life we are in, to treat the children in our lives with love and tenderness, wisdom and understanding. May the children we love grow into adults who love You. In Jesus’ Name—the One who loved children so well! Amen.

Originally written by Sharon Gamble of Sweet Selah Ministries.