Have you ever seen that “Friends” episode where Rachel decides that Monica is going to make all of the decisions for her life. Because of some bad choices she was making in her life, Rachel decided that was a good idea.
Unfortunately in my line of business, I see this happening quite frequently with parents and children. Some of the conversations go like this…”Johnny doesn’t want to go to Extended Care today but I need him to go because I have an important thing I have to do and I can’t bring him. But he doesn’t want to go. I don’t know what to do”. Put on the brakes!! Stop the presses! What?!? Here’s what I saw and heard. An adult person needs to do something important and can’t bring her child with her but asks her child what he wants to do. What does a child know about important meetings and adult needs.
Here’s another one I hear. “Sally, don’t run. It’s a parking lot, you might get run over. Sally! Sally! You need to hold my hand. Sally! Sally! If you don’t want to hold my hand then you can’t run. Sally! Sally!” Put on the brakes!! Stop the presses! Here’s what I saw and heard. An adult person reasoning with a child about their safety. What does a child know about keeping themselves safe.?
Does this make sense in anyone’s world? A child does not have the capability to make the right decisions for his/her life. And a child certainly doesn’t have the capability to make the right decisions for an adult. God fashioned children to rely on their parents for guidance and discipline. Hebrews 12:5-11 This is the BEST scripture about discipline. It says that as father/mothers we discipline our children because we love them, as God disciplines us because He loves us. Proverbs 3:11-12 says it too. So does Dueteronomy 8:5. I’m sure there are many more. It’s in the Bible so many times because God wants us to get it right. It directly correlates to how a child will grow up, be respectful of others and then will be able to pass on this legacy to his/her children.
Does that mean we never give children the right to choose. Of course not! We do it all the time here at the Preschool. “What color would you like to paint your picture?” “Do you want to play on the swings first or the monkey bars?” “Would you rather sit in Mrs.T’s office or play on the playground with your friends?” “Which choice do you want to make?”
At home, the choice could be, “Billy, why don’t you pick where we eat tonight, Chuckie Cheese or Perkins”. Well, we know how that would go, don’t we? Or how about, “Tonight, Bobby, I’ll read 3 books before bedtime. Which books do you want me to read?” “Do you want to help unload the dishwasher or help fold the clothes.” “Do you want green beans or broccoli with your meal?” “Would you like to go to the park or go to the mall?” “Sally, which dress do you want to wear to church?” The sky is the limit on ways you can empower your child to make choices. To help him/her make decisions about their life and take a turn making decisions for the family. But NEVER decisions that usurp the authority of the adult. This is a slippery slope and one you do not want to start sliding down.
I’ve raised 2 of my own children and one older teenager and had experience with almost 2000 children in my 20 years of working in childcare. I know children! I know what works and what doesn’t. And when I can’t figure something out about children I go to experts to help me. If you’re having problems, let me help! I know together we can work out a solution.
Parents, don’t abdicate your authority to children. Lead them, guide them, encourage them, discipline them. This is your right and your duty. God made it that and he said so in His Word and that’s enough for me!