I need your help with something. Back when I was a kid, my folks told me what to do. My choices were to do what they said or spend my childhood in my room. Nowadays, it seems like children have all these choices. I know I am not very good with decisions so I can’t imagine my twin 4 year-olds are either. But the books all say if I let the child choose, I empower them. Do I keep giving them choices or do I get a choice in the matter?
Too Many Options
I read that in the “How to Raise Your Kids” Books too; it is strange that we would offer up so many choices to something that can’t remember where its sock drawer is. Isn’t the reason we don’t let people vote until they are 18 in this country so we can be informed on the issues, policies and procedures that make up our government before me make our “x”? I am fairly certain if I asked Tabby to vote she would pick any candidate that had a pony – so much for choices.
But that’s what the books say, isn’t it? That our children need to make the choice in order to embrace it? So the other day I let Logan choose his lunch items so as to avoid yet another round of “Mom, why are you trying to kill me with dumb food?” (I did not realize we were assessing the aptitude of our food items but apparently my pantry has scored below the National Mean for eight years running.) Logan selected a handful of cereal, three packs of Gummi Bears, a cinnamon bun and a knife-full of peanut butter – he stuck the knife full of peanut butter right in his lunch box. So I sent him off, because this was his choice. To the books’ credit, there was no fight… between us, that is. His teacher had to pry him off the paste cabinet door because apparently it “looked at him weird.” And then there was the spelling test on which he scored -4 because after he wrote the Norse translation for all this week’s words (which he spelled wrong to boot) and ended with an essay on how the Super Hero Alliance League were better than Congress (apparently the teacher is a Democrat AND a Crusaders of the Universe fan.) I finally got him in bed and he slept through the three-day weekend. I am not sure how empowered he felt and he certainly learned nothing. In fact, I am convinced some knowledge he possessed originally fell out.
Last month, Tabby was tap dancing on my dining room table. I took 3 deep breaths and said “honey, you need to decide to not dance on the table.” She did a few heel drops. So I persisted, “Tabitha, you need to decide to come down.” She stopped and looked at me and said “Mooo-aaahhmm, I need to decide!” I couldn’t argue with that so I let her tap-dance to her heart’s empowerment. The doctor said it was only a sprain and we’re fine eating off the ottoman until we can afford a new table.
We went to a friend’s house for dinner the other night. She was serving Tamale Pie… to us, the adults. The children in attendance had a choice between filet, chicken bits, hot dogs, mac and cheese and sushi – all of which was prepared and served to each child since they all selected a different option. Our hostess was so tired she slept through the BuzzWords tournament. (We drew on her forehead with lipstick.)
Lastly, I am not sure how much more empowered I need my children to be. They already dictate the TV programs, the radio stations and when we do anything as a family. I gave up a Greek cruise for a jaunt to Rodent Roar Park because the kids would “be bored by history.” When do I get to exert my life experiences, college degree, the fact that I pay mortgage and tell my kids that I just plain know better?
Oh wait, answer me in a moment – my 6 year-old is starting her “bedtime doesn’t suit my desire to ramble about cake frosting preferences” argument. And I want to offer her all the empowerment I can because who am I to tell a child what’s good for her?
Thank you to Donna B from Newport, UK for the question. If you would like to write to Supermom, please email AskSupermom@placedeplume.com