Know When to Say “No”

by Taffi Dollar | 12 May 2019


As parents, we all love our children and want the best for them; however, we need godly wisdom to know exactly what “the best” is. It is normal to want to help our kids as much as we can. However, despite our best intentions, there is always the possibility of enabling them instead of helping them. A parent who is an enabler might be motivated by a sense of control; this could cause the children to learn to rely on them, instead of on God. Our sons and daughters should eventually be able to live successful lives. When they make requests of us, our response is everything; sometimes tough love is the best response. The Bible says to train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it. In all our parenting situations, relying on the Holy Spirit’s guidance and direction enables us to do that.

  1. As parents, we must be mindful of our motives. We want to help, not hinder, our kids.
    1. Then came to him the mother of Zebedees children with her sons, worshipping him, and desiring a certain thing of him. And he said unto her, What wilt thou? She saith unto him, Grant that these my two sons may sit, the one on thy right hand, and the other on the left, in thy kingdom. But Jesus answered and said, Ye know not what ye ask. Are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of, and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with? They say unto him, We are able. And he saith unto them, Ye shall drink indeed of my cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with: but to sit on my right hand, and on my left, is not mine to give, but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared of my Father. And when the ten heard it, they were moved with indignation against the two brethren. But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many (Matthew 20:20-28).
      1. We do not know this mother’s motivation for asking this of Jesus; her request initially may have seemed noble, but she may have made it with the wrong motives. In light of this, as parents, we must learn when to say “no.”
      2. There is a difference between helping and enabling. Part of biblical love is knowing when it is appropriate to say “yes,” and when we should avoid giving that answer.
      3. To help is to do something for someone that they cannot do for themselves; to enable is to do something for someone who can and should do for themselves.
      4. Sometimes God does not want us jump in and to get involved. Praying for discernment reveals His will for that particular situation.
      5. Being inconvenienced as a parent is not always bad; it can show what is inside us.
    2. Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the passover. And when he was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem after the custom of the feast. And when they had fulfilled the days, as they returned, the child Jesus tarried behind in Jerusalem; and Joseph and his mother knew not of it. But they, supposing him to have been in the company, went a day’s journey; and they sought him among their kinsfolk and acquaintance. And when they found him not, they turned back again to Jerusalem, seeking him. And it came to pass, that after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions. And all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers. And when they saw him, they were amazed: and his mother said unto him, Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing. And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business? And they understood not the saying which he spake unto them. And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them: but his mother kept all these sayings in her heart (Luke 2:41-51).
      1. Our response to a situation is everything. We can only be accountable for how we respond; it does not matter how others respond.
      2. It is tempting to look at other parents and condemn them for bad parenting.
      3. It may be hard to discern the difference between helping and enabling, for several reasons. We may feel compassion for others’ struggles, or we may remember our own experiences growing up. We may not want our children to be disappointed. We may think that we are the only solution to their situation.
  1. Making life too easy for our children can take away their will to do for themselves.
    1. There are several things to consider regarding our children.
      1. As parents, we must ask ourselves if our child is unwilling, or unable, to do something; there is a difference between the two. Some things may be difficult or inconvenient, but that is a part of life.
      2. We must not stretch ourselves past our resources and abilities to try to help our children.
      3. We need to determine if they are putting significant effort into solving their own problems.
      4. We must ask ourselves if we feel cheerful, or reluctant and under compulsion. When we enable our kids, we do not feel right about it: we open the door to resentment.
      5. We also must consider whether the outcome is gratitude, or entitlement and dependency.
    2. Therefore, [there is] now no condemnation (no adjudging guilty of wrong) for those who are in Christ Jesus, who live [and] walk not after the dictates of the flesh, but after the dictates of the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life [which is] in Christ Jesus [the law of our new being] has freed me from the law of sin and of death (Romans 8:1, 2, AMPC).
      1. The enemy will do everything he can to mess with our minds and bring on the guilt.
      2. The enemy will tell us we ought to be ashamed of ourselves, but we must not feel guilty when we say “no.”
      3. If we take responsibility for fixing everyone’s problems and taking care of all their responsibilities, they will never learn to do for themselves.
      4. They will not learn how to make their own decisions so that they can cope, troubleshoot, and navigate through life. They will, instead, learn to make excuses and avoid accountability.
  1. Responsible parenting involves teaching our children what they need to know.
    1. Parental anxiety should be dealt with. If we are not careful, we can pass our fears down to our children.
      1. If we are too afraid to let our children handle situations that give them an opportunity to earn our trust, we will never know if they can be trusted. Pushing past our fears allows them to mature and develop, and it strengthens the relationship between parents and kids.
    2. It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found (Luke 15:32).
      1. It was probably very uncomfortable for this father to see his son in an inconvenient situation. He had all the resources for his son to live a wonderful life at home, but the son chose to leave.
      2. The father suffered heartache and pain, but he moved through it. This applies to us in that when our children’s lives go in the wrong direction, we can pray, and then let God do what needs to be done.
  1. Trusting God gives us the wisdom to know the difference between helping and enabling.
    1. We must know what love is, and what it is not.
      1. Love seeks a person’s highest good. It does not avoid speaking the truth simply to avoid conflict.
      2. But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things… (Ephesians 4:15).
      3. Love does not mean being a pushover, being dominated, or being taken advantage of.
      4. Love realizes that suffering the consequences of our actions is not necessarily a bad thing.
    2. There are several things we should do.
      1. God expects us to be good managers of His resources.
      2. We must allow God to work; this is difficult sometimes.
      3. Grow a backbone.
      4. As parents, we must accept any part we may have played in making our children behave inappropriately.
      5. We can pray for the power to change, so that our children can develop wings to fly on their own.
  1. We cannot be successful parents on our own. We need the Holy Spirit’s help.
    1. However, I am telling you nothing but the truth when I say it is profitable (good, expedient, advantageous) for you that I go away. Because if I do not go away, the Comforter (Counselor, Helper, Advocate, Intercessor, Strengthener, Standby) will not come to you [into close fellowship with you]; but if I go away, I will send Him to you [to be in close fellowship with you] (John 16:7, AMPC).
      1. We need the Holy Spirit to teach us to discern what is profitable in every situation. He is our helper.
      2. The Holy Spirit is our strength in weakness; our peace in times of trouble; our wisdom in darkness; our guide in perplexity; our righteousness in sinfulness; and our victory in temptation.
      3. He brings us back to reality so that we can live by grace through faith.
      4. To be parents, we need Jesus. He helps us live our lives victoriously.
    2. There are several strategies for good parenting.
      1. We must recognize our need for help.
      2. We need to take note of Christ’s promises and the fact that, on our own, we fall short as parents. However, when we are filled with His grace, we have His abilities.
      3. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness… (2 Corinthians 12:9).
      4. We can remember the Holy Spirit’s involvement in our lives.