As I was browsing my facebook feed this morning, I stumbled upon a news story that someone had posted. It was tragic….heartbreaking….thought-provoking..

A mom took her two year old son on an outing to the zoo in Pennsylvania. While there, the mother put her son up on top of the exhibit railing to give her son a better view of the wild dogs. A few seconds later, the little boy lost his balance, and fell. Within seconds, he was attacked by 11 wild dogs. The little boy died, as the mom and onlookers stood there, unable to help.

I can’t read that story without crying. It’s haunting. My heart breaks for that mom, as I think about the way that moment will forever replay in her mind.  And, it could have happened to any of us. No, not all of us stand our kids up on fencing that is there to protect us from wild animals. But, how often do we give in to our kids? How often do we say yes when we really ought to say no. How often are our children sitting in the driver’s seat? Who is in control? All too often, it’s not us.

We’re so afraid to be the “bad guy” that we’re putting our children in harm’s way.We want to be liked. We want to be the “good” parent. We want our kids to be happy at all costs.

If I wanted my child to be happy, his eyes would fall out of his head as he did nothing but watch Mickey’s Mouse Clubhouse all day. If I wanted my child to be happy, he would live entirely off of candy and oranges. My daughter would stay up until 10 every night. She would drink soda. My son would never change his clothes. Disney Jr. would never turn off. Teeth would never be brushed. New foods would never be eaten. Naps would be a thing of the past.Our house would quickly fill with a never-ending stream of toys. I would erase the word “no” from my vocabulary.

That mom at the zoo is not so unlike any of us. She just gave in. She said yes when she should have said no. “What’s the harm?” we think to ourselves as we give in to the fit…as we pacify the screaming by saying yes…as we allow our child to do something they shouldn’t….because, we just want them to be happy, right?

I’m okay with my kids being unhappy…..because they need to be healthy. They need to be respectful. Their life might not be at stake when I say “yes,” but their character could be. I understand that it’s not my job to meet their every demand. It’s not my job to make sure they have everything they want. As parents, we know better. We know what is in their best interest. We need to be the one in control, and realize that it’s for their benefit that we sometimes say no.

Don’t get me wrong, I want my children to lead a joy-filled life. But, I have learned that true joy down in your soul comes from a content and thankful heart….not from having parents that act like a personal genie in the lamp. We aren’t here to grant wishes and meet demands. We’re here to set boundaries, instill character, maintain safety, and create love-filled human beings. We’re here to pull them back from the fence rail…not help them on top of it.

That mom in Pennsylvania isn’t  a bad mom. She made a mistake. She said yes, when she should have said no, and her choice will haunt her forever. I want to encourage you today to learn from this incident, and pull your reigns in a little tighter. Think about an area where you’ve been giving in. Are you putting your child’s happiness ahead of their safety? Their character?

Learn from today. Love on your babies..every second you can. Clutch them tightly. Read. Play. Inspire. Spend quality time. Tell them you love them every chance you get. Just make sure you’re saying yes to the right things. Say yes to playing with them. Say yes to one more story. Say yes to family time. Say yes to cuddles. But, say no when it counts.

*I ask that you join me in prayer for the family of the little boy who lost his life. Please keep his mother in your prayers, as she attempts to move forward. Pray for the onlookers and zoo workers. And then, do what I did after reading the story….go love on your babies.