While school shopping at the end of last summer with my daughter, Christal, I made the requisite Facebook post about how terrible the crowds were in the stores. I also mentioned how Christal had me going from store to store searching for a book bag. She could not make up her mind. The post seemed harmless, right? According to one of my Facebook friends, “back in the day” children didn’t have those kinds of choices. He stated that his mom would have told him to take the book bag that she chose or go without one. For me, it wasn’t really that serious of a topic. I kindly let my “friend” know that Christal is a good kid, makes good grades, and is respectful and responsible. So, yes, she can choose her own book bag.
That wasn’t the end. I mentioned the Facebook exchange in passing while shopping with one of my sorority sisters. She agreed that “if it were her child,” there would be no choice. I couldn’t help to think that my style of parenting must be new-fangled because I believe that there are important benefits to teaching our children to make choices. I’m a firm believer in allowing children to make decisions appropriate to their age and level of maturity. If they don’t make the small choices now, when will they be prepared to make the major decisions that we all have to face as adults?
Based on my own life experience and journey as a parent of two teens, I have learned a few good reasons to encourage decision-making skills in children. These skills allow children to:
Avoid peer pressure. Children who are confident in making their own choices are less likely to yield to the crowd. We all know that those playground pressures can put children in sticky situations.
Become leaders. The main reason that I want my children to be strong decision makers is that I want them to become strong leaders. How can children become leaders if they’ve only been dictated to their whole lives?
Understand consequences. I don’t know about you, but I would rather have my children learn lessons about the consequences of their decisions now when they’re making those minor choices, such as picking the red shoes over the brown shoes. If they are allowed to make increasingly more important decisions as they mature, this would allow for a smoother transition into “grown folks” territory.
Should children have some choices? I believe that they should certainly be allowed to have choices so that they are well prepared to become tomorrow’s decision makers.
What do you think? Go to the “Contact Us” page to let us know what you think about children making choices. If nothing else, wish me luck with my new-fangled parenting!
By: Truly Charmed