I buy things at the store, or walk in a park, or drive my car, and sometimes think to myself, “I am now old enough that I choose to do this.” When I was a kid I would never have been allowed to do some of the things I do or make some of the decisions I make on my own. I can’t really remember where the line fell between childhood and adulthood, but at some point I became old enough and generally responsible enough to make good decisions.
It would help us adults a lot to remember that kids do almost everything under the direction and as a result of the decision of an adult- involuntarily. The older a child gets, the more they have things they want to do and get to do when they want to, but even those choices are subject to the needs or wants of someone else. They are generally powerless to get what they want, on their own, without consent.
It would serve us well as parents or adults that have some role in the life of a younger person, to remember this fact when those children get testy, resistant, or defiant. When young people aren’t afforded safe opportunities to make choices, they will begin to make the choices we certainly don’t want them making, and usually behind our backs. Whether it’s throwing Spaghetti O’s or going to a friend’s house without permission.
We have to at least appreciate the fact- children can’t choose for themselves. And as a result, we should try to offer them choices where we can. And think about it in this way, as I have- I get more pleasure out of seeing my kids get to do something they like, than I do out of making them do things they don’t.