It seems like the subject of choices keeps coming up lately.
I've always tried to teach my children that life is a series of choices. You can choose to do what I ask or deal with the punishment. You can choose to to quit band but then you have to take music in Junior High. You can choose to yell in my face but then you'll also get slapped. Then there are other choices. Harder choices.
If you don't like how something is going you have to choose to change it. If you think you are fat - which, BTW, I don't agree with - you need to not eat as much ice cream after dinner. Have a piece of fruit. Make healthier food choices. If you want to save your money for a big purchase maybe you shouldn't go to the ice cream shop with your friends. If you want to play sports you need to keep your grades up. That means taking 20 minutes the night before a test and studying.
The thing is, we make choices constantly. Sometimes it doesn't seem like a choice because we feel so strongly one way or another. We may even say we didn't have a choice. But we almost always do. Yes, things happen that we can't change but we can change our response. Or not. Our choice. We may not like our choices but we still get to choose between them. We may like both our choices. Many times it's between what our heart wants and what our head wants. And by heart I do not just mean love. Sometimes heart refers to our gut or our wants or the child within us. By head I'm referring to the logical choice.
It's not always easy letting your kids make their own choices. Especially if you feel strongly about the outcome. Sometimes it's still necessary to let them do the choosing. Sometimes it is not at all appropriate to let them have the final decision. No, you may not kill your brother so he will stop annoying you. I don't care if you decide it is worth the punishment. No, you may not quit school and work at McDonald's for the rest of your life. You can decide to work there but you will finish school so you have the choice later.
I believe in the handing over of decisions along with the conversation of what results of the choices will be. I am not above gentle nudging. I am not above the suggestion of postponement of certain decisions. Finish band this year, you only have 2 months left then you can decide about next year later.
The hardest part of letting the kids make choices is letting them make what you feel are the wrong choices. I'm not sure how I will handle that. I've been very lucky so far in that they haven't gone against anything I feel extremely strong about. But we are still working on realizing that some of the things that happen have been their choice. You wouldn't go to your room when you were told and now I have to drag you. One of the boys accused us of almost ripping his arm out of the socket when trying to drag him upstairs to bed one night. I said that all he had to do was choose to walk and that wouldn't have happened/would have stopped. He just looked at me.
In the boys' defense, I think they are coming along nicely in the learning to make choices department. Hell, I even have to take the time to remind myself when I'm unhappy that I am choosing this. Every time I eat when I'm not hungry, every time I eat large amounts of fattening foods I am choosing to be fat. I'm not a victim of genetics or medications or physical ailments. I am fat because of what I eat. This is not to say that others don't have these issues to deal with - they do - this is just to qualify my particular situation. In my life, it is my choices that have resulted in the fat. If nothing else, the tracking of what I eat has proven this.
There are other areas of my life that are not such easy choices. Not as straight forward as whether to eat the Easter candy (child within want) or lose weight (logic). In many cases it's a choice between two wants. Or two logical options. This is when things get difficult. At one point it was financial security vs being home with the boys. Every day that I work I am still making that choice. And yes, many times there are a multitude of things to factor into the decision. It is an ever changing landscape that shapes our decisions. This is what I think makes it difficult to understand other people's decisions.
If I have learned anything in my 38 years it is that you should not judge other's decisions. There are always things you do not know. Circumstances you can not understand. Nuances you are not aware of. And above all, we are all different. We all have different priorities. We all have different histories. We all have different breaking points.
And after all of this I will still choose to eat the damn Easter candy.