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'Saying Yes to No' is a good concept

Last month, I went to the "Say Yes to No" presentation by Dr. David Walsh held at Woodbury Lutheran Church. It was a special community event sponsored by District 833 School Age Family Education and a few other local organizations.

Walsh is the founder and president of the National Institute on Media and the Family located in Minneapolis. He is a nationally-known parenting expert, bestselling author and speaker. I heard him speak once about building healthy families through the wise use of media at a conference. And lately, he is a frequent guest on radio talk shows discussing his new book "No. Why Kids -- of All Ages --Need to Hear It and Ways Parents Can Say It."

I was very interested in the topic and listening to his presentation. Obviously, many parents felt the same way.

The 800-seat sanctuary at Woodbury Lutheran Church was almost full. For one-and-a-half hours, Walsh kept the audience's attention with his powerful message. It's a timely message that our society needs to hear.

We live in a "Yes" culture that gives kids the message that they can and should have whatever they want, whenever they want it. The result is our kids want instant gratification.

They develop a sense of entitlement. They lack self- control, patience and discipline. Our "Yes" culture can lead to disappointment and failure when they later learn that they can't always have their way.

As parents, we all know it's so much easier to say yes to our kids than to say no. More and more parents find it harder to say no. We over-indulge our kids.

Oftentimes, parents buy their children whatever they ask for because they don't want to deprive their children of anything their friends have, or because they are tired of hearing their children's nagging.

But kids need to learn through our no response that they don't always get what they want in life. They need to learn to deny and delay gratification. They need to learn that self-esteem and happiness are not built on what we have and how much we have.

"No" builds a foundation for self-discipline, perseverance, delayed gratification and a host of other character traits that lead to happy and successful life.

My daughter calls me a "tough mom" because I say no to her requests a lot.

I don't yield to my kids' every request and demand. For me, parenting is not a popularity contest. I would rather be tough than popular.

Some parents want to be liked by their children and be their friends. But we are parents in the first place. It's our job to set limits, boundaries and teach them self-discipline, especially when they are young.

As a radio talk show host likes to say, "If you want your children to like you, give them what they want. But if you want your children to love you, give them what they need."

"No" is an excellent book on parenting. It explains how parents can say "no" to their kids and why they should. It gives parents practical and effective strategies for using "no" the right way with kids. As parents we should have the courage to just say "no" and mean it. And we need to know how to say "no."

Please join Minnesota parents and educators in supporting Minnesota Say Yes to No campaign.

Minnesota Say Yes to No is a grassroots campaign across the state led by a coalition of more than a dozen parent, educator and health organizations to read Walsh's book and to ignite community conversations around raising healthy, self-reliant kids so they will be successful in school and life. Visit the campaign Web site at for more information.

"'Say Yes to No' gives parents and educators the tools they need to instill self-discipline in our children," said Walsh. "Too often our kids get caught up in the culture of more, easy, fast and fun and develop discipline deficit disorder. By helping parents become stronger parents, we can ensure our kids can succeed in life and school."

Thanks to our school district, Woodbury Lutheran Church and all the other sponsors who made this event possible. Your support has allowed more parents to hear this every important message.