How to Know When to Say “No”

Parenting //

Matthew 7:9-11  Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?

It’s a regular occurrence in our household when my children come asking for permission to do something or if they can have something.

  • A piece of candy
  • Watch a movie
  • Have a friend spend the night
  • A new toy

Saying “No” is an essential part of being a good parent and raising kids with discipline, character, and discernment.  Part of any parent’s job is to protect their children from many things they aren’t aware they need to be protected from.

However, sometimes as parents, we are guilty of habitually saying “No” before our kids can even finish the sentence, without having even given any fair consideration to the request.  And while saying “No” is often necessary, there’s not always a good reason for saying “No”, just for the sake of saying “No”.

I would challenge you the next time you are hit with “20 questions” from your kids of things they want to do or have – use these questions as guidelines for How to Know When to Say “No”.


This one should be a given. If they are asking you for permission to have or do anything that goes contrary to what the Word of God teaches, the answer should be “No”.

However, I’ve seen many parents who have justified letting their kids participate in unbiblical practices by adopting this kind of thinking, “It’s a whole lot better than what else they could be doing.”

Parents should not justify sin in their child’s life simply because they deem it to be a smaller sin than something else.  If something is unbiblical, it’s sinful, and the answer should be “No”. Period.

2. Is it UNWISE?

There are times when something may not be a sin, but it still may not be what is in your child’s best interest.

  • Just because little Johnny has $50 in cash doesn’t necessitate that he go spend $50 at the candy store.
  • Just because little Susie was invited to spend the night at a friends house from school doesn’t make it a good decision, especially if you don’t know the family very closely.
  • Just because your child wants a new puppy doesn’t mean they’re old enough or responsible enough yet to take care of one.

When our children come to us with requests, it gives us the opportunity to teach them wisdom in their choices. Sometimes that means we have to make the choice for them. Other times (with good discretion), we may have to let them make the choice and learn from it, even if it’s the wrong one.


This is a big one around our house. 50% of the requests I get from my kids are for candy or junk food.  And they probably ask me because they know they have a slightly better chance at getting a “Yes” from me than from Mom.

Why do parents say “No” to their kids when they want to have ice cream for supper and gummy bears for dessert?  Because parents intuitively know that they are responsible for the health and well-being of their children.

Some of the biggest ongoing life choices that your children will have to make will concern what they do with and put into their body, the temple of God.  Help them develop good habits at a young age for making wise health choices.  They may not thank you now, but they will one day.

4. Is it something they simply DON’T UNDERSTAND?

There are certainly times when our kids ask us for something that is none of the above, but we still aren’t comfortable with giving them what they want.  We all have those intuitive parent moments when our gut tells us that something’s not a good idea.  Or we know why something’s not in our child’s best interest, but don’t have a sensible way of explaining it to them in a way they’ll understand.

Sometimes we simply have to say, “I don’t expect you to understand, but I love you, and you’re just going to have to trust me.”

I love being able to say “Yes” to my children when I can, just as God enjoys saying “Yes” to us as His children.  But being able to say “Yes” without it negatively impacting our kids requires that we Know When to Say “No”.

I would challenge you to memorize these four questions and put them to good use.  What other questions or guidelines would you add to the list above?





About the Author

"Andrew has invested his life into full-time Kids Ministry for over 14 years. He is passionate about ministering to kids and their families, as well as equipping other parents and ministry leaders to do the same. He is also the founder of KidzBlast Ministries, which provides effective and proven resources for VBS, Children’s Church and the Bus Ministry at"