Do you ever feel like a million demands are coming your way as a parent? Alas, you realize it’s ten days ‘til a major holiday and you have no idea what your family is doing, but you’re pretty sure it should involve you. To top it off, some brown-eyed, “been there/done that,” passionate TBRI® parent trainer comes at you with, “It’s important for you to give your child the hundred thousand yeses he missed in the first two years of life.” TBRI® is the Trust-Based Relational Intervention® parenting model developed by the late Dr. Karyn Purvis and Dr. David Cross at the Texas Christian University Institute of Child Development.
I love teaching TBRI®.
I’m actually kind of a nerd about it. I believe it’s not just a great parenting model for high-risk kids, but for all parents who want to practice a structured and relational attachment-rich model of parenting. I could talk all day about the nuts and bolts of Trust-Based Parenting and I actually do—quite often.
But one of the most often asked questions is not about the nuts and bolts of TBRI®, but about how I kept on keeping on. How do you have the stamina to keep giving yeses day after day, month after month, and for many of us, year after year? For me, the challenges of parenting a high-risk, fetal alcohol impaired young man meant changes in me. Drastic changes. Lifelong changes. Changes that did not come easily for this strong-willed, over-achiever type personality. And from being in the trenches with many on you, I realize I am not alone.
I had to learn to say no in order to say yes. Saying yes to sensory play with my child, connecting with him, meant saying no to folding the laundry. Saying yes to a bike ride in the park meant saying no to chatting on the phone with my best friend. Saying yes to the twentieth request to build a fort with all the living room furniture and every blanket we owned meant saying no to my concern about how long it would take to put it all away.
Saying yes means letting go. Saying yes means we may have to learn to be better at delegating tasks. It may mean we have to hire help with the weekly chores and even daily responsibilities. It could mean we have to let some of our friends and ministries say yes to us, rather than pretending this journey hasn’t turned our world upside down.
How can we use our supply of yeses wisely?
If we say yes to making six dozen individually decorated Oreo cookie/colored licorice feather turkey treats for the second graders, can we say yes to a child who is still afraid to sleep alone? If we say yes to holding a friend’s hand through a long and painful divorce, can we say yes to our children who are losing patience with yet another sibling meltdown? If we can say yes to leading a new ministry at church—even one we have the experience and skill set for, can we say yes to meeting the ongoing and multiple needs of a child with sensory processing disorder?
Saying no is not easy. Some will understand; some won’t. But saying yes today to our children can give birth to the skills they will need for many tomorrows.
Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test,
that person will receive the crown of life that the
Lord has promised to those who love him.
What ideas can you share that have helped you manage your supply of yesses?
By Debra Delulio Jones, M.Ed.
Wife of Alan Jones
Mom of one biological daughter and one adopted son
1 Corinthians 13 Team Member
Founder and Director of Parent Intervention & Training
Debra’s book is available on the Parent Intervention & Training website.