I am a pretty easy going person. Maybe a little too easy going, sometimes. Ninety-seven percent of the time when faced with a choice of a basic daily nature, I usually could go either way. This goes for directions, restaurants, order of tasks, you name it. Every once in a while, I do have a preference and I usually voice it. My preference is often based out of a time restriction (or need for Indian food).
What this has led to is letting Joshua make a lot of choices based on his preference. Want to go on the fast road? Sure. Feel like pizza? No problem. Don’t want to go to Target? Ok, I can go tomorrow.
Jeremy and I often discuss if this the right thing to do? Not because I do not want to make a decision, but I really can see the pluses and minuses of letting Joshua make these choices so often.
On the positive side
Letting Joshua make seemingly little decisions gives him some responsibility for how our family functions. He is just as an important part of our merry little group as any of us and we want him to know that his opinion counts.
As a decision-maker in the family, Joshua can gain independence and autonomy over his day. This is something that is often lost for a kid his age who hears “no” to a lot of his requests. Sometimes these “nos” are appropriate—can I go outside without my coat/hat/gloves in the 7 degree weather and play in the sandbox? Sometimes these “nos” are convenient for the adult—can you come play trucks with me instead of folding laundry?
Ability to consider and voice his needs…and recognize that other’s have needs too
Posing these questions to Joshua, forces him to consider and evaluate his own feelings on the matter at hand. He gains valuable experience voicing and supporting his needs and desires. On the other side of that, it also gives him the perspective that other’s sometimes have needs and desires that need attention or priority, too. So while he may feeling like taking the “fast road” to see the construction vehicles, I may need to drive through town to run an errand.
On the negative side
Gets what he wants
Joshua is, for now, an only child. Is there a point when we should impose some decisions on him just so that he is not always getting his way? I often talk myself out of this one. Kids his age are learning EVERYTHING. So much in Joshua’s life is a challenge. We zip our coats, pour milk, and climb into the car without even a thought. Joshua is struggling/learning all of these things. So why not stop for pizza instead of bagels if that is his choice?
Often his choice is not most efficient
This is the one that gets Jeremy the most, I think. Although, sometimes, I get a frustrated with the inefficient decision, too. Here is the classic one that makes me frustrated: Joshua wants to go in the back door of our building. It is cold, the front door is RIGHT THERE, and I have to pee. The back door is more entertaining to Joshua. We walk past the grills, the fountain, and, best of all, the TRASH DUMPSTERS! What to do? I hate to stifle his curiosity and excitement, but I (or at least my bladder) have needs, too! Here, I choose efficiency. On another occasion, if my needs are not so urgent, I can stand the cold for a few more minutes.
Once again, I don’t think there is a clear right or wrong answer. But, I tend to give the benefit of the doubt to letting Joshua make the decision (unless there is a real need to do otherwise). As he gets older and our family grows, it will be very interesting to see both how my thought process evolves and how these small decision making opportunities empower Joshua for the future.