Do you make parenting decisions for your children, or do you let them decide? Hear Heather’s story of letting her daughter choose, and what happened next.
Here’s a question for the new year: Where is the line between letting kids make decisions for themselves and making decisions for them?
Before Christmas break, I based a decision on what my daughter wanted, and not on what I thought was best in my mom-gut. And it back-fired.
I walked out of a doctors appointment with my oldest, Pippa, thinking I would drive her back to school.
She had an slight injury that would mean she had to take it easy at recess in order to not make her injury worse. Otherwise, she was fine to return to school, and the doc even encouraged her to go back.
But I was hesitant. My husband thought she should stay home as well and take it easy. It wasn’t that we are paranoid parents, but her injury was a bit sensitive and we didn’t have confidence in her ability to lay low on the playground. In addition, she might be in pain when sitting for long periods of time.
I couldn’t decide whether or not she should go, but since the doctor was so positive about it, I started the 20 minute drive toward school.
After 10 minutes of driving, I stopped for gas, and while I popped in my number to get a discount at the pump, I had a change of heart.
“She should probably just go home and relax. Missing a day of first grade won’t kill her, and in the long run she’ll be better off to heal,” I decided.
I made up my mind to take her home, and we’d spend a fun morning watching our newest addiction, Disney +.
I hopped back in the van and announced, “Pippa, I decided you’re not going back to school after all.”
Her response blew me away.
“WHAT?! NO! I want to see my friends!!” she wailed.
I was taken back at her strong reaction, and second-guessed myself. If she’s feeling so strongly about it, maybe she’ll be ok? I reasoned against my own better judgement.
“Ok, I guess you can go back, as long as you take it easy.”
She promised, and we continued the last 10 minutes to school. But as we pulled into the parking lot, it began: The hesitant, whiny, resistance I had expected all along. “But what if it hurts too much? What if I’m not able to take it easy at recess?” she whimpered.
“Honey, I told you we could just go home!” I replied, but as I sat there in the parking lot, a big realization hit me like being whacked with a pillow in the face unexpectedly.
Who Is Making The Decisions?
I had been basing my decisions on what she wanted instead of what I thought was best with my mom-intuition. I was more worried about not upsetting her than making the best choice for her.
It was a bombshell of a moment.
I told her, “You know what, we’re going home.”
She apologized for deciding to go to school and then changing her mind. I told her, “No, I am sorry that I didn’t do what was best for you, but instead allowed you to decide.” I apologized for putting that decision on her, when I should have made it myself since I knew deep down what was best.
In that moment, I realized that while I don’t do that all the time, I can think of other incidents where I didn’t want to bother upsetting her or getting a negative reaction, so I caved and didn’t stick to what I thought was best.
That kind of parenting is really a disservice to my kids. As a mom, I can’t be afraid of their negative emotions, getting mad at me or thinking that life isn’t fair.
As a parent, my job is to do what’s best for them. It’s to pray and ask God, and listen for His answer, and then act in courage and confidence. Its facing the negative emotions with kindness and firmness.
After this experience, I’ve been much more aware of standing for what I think is best instead of yielding to my kids’ whims. I’m learning to discern between when is a good and healthy time for them to make “big-girl” decisions for themselves, and when I need to step in and make the best decision.
It’s a work in progress, but my experience with Pippa and her injury pointed me back in the right direction.
Do you ever base decisions on what your child wants instead of what you think is best?
What types of things do you decide and what types of things do you let them decide?
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