Parenting is a process, not an event. Part of the parenting process is decision making. When it is time to eat, there are decisions to be made. When it is time to go outside af-ter being inside for too long, there is a decision to be made. When it is time to plan a vacation, there are decisions to be made.
Who Makes the Decisions?
It is easy to see this process through a black and white lens. Some see it as the adult’s job to make the decision and the child’s job to follow orders. Others, perhaps as a reaction to the former way of being, follow their children’s orders so as not to interfere with the natural development of their child, to not oppress the child.
A Third Option
There is a third option. This way of being does not come with a pre-packaged answer for the question of who makes the decisions. This is a process of active listening and dialogue. This is a process of giving everyone 100% responsibility in any situation. Two people adds up to 200% responsibility, three people equals 300% responsibility, and so on. This is a process of collaborative decision making.
Your Child’s Decisions Count
How do children fit into this equation? They also hold 100% responsibility for their part in the decision making process. This could be a matter of choosing which park to visit, which toys to bring to the beach, or perhaps whether the hotel room will be on the ground floor or not. The point is, there is some part of the decision that the child is re-sponsible for, relative to their age, maturity, or their investment in the decision.
Most of the time, a child wants to be heard and wants to know that he has influence over the events in his life. Looking at things at the level of process, rather than focusing on the details, can bring about solutions that at first seemed unclear. Perhaps a child is crying and insisting that she have things her way because she feels that she has no voice in her life. Giving her just a little decision to make is all she needs to get off of the ground and go on with her merry way.
Collaborative Decision Making
Using this process of collaborative decision making pays off in those moments when my son does not have a choice. He knows, in those rare opportunities, that he can trust me. That is worth the investment.
About the Author
Edward Biagiotti shares his practical philosophies on the subjects of parenting and education. He has been working and growing in the field of education for the past 12 years, and as a father for 7 (and 1/2) years. Edward enjoys writing, speaking, consulting, and learning about parenting, education, and connecting with children. His writings and additional information can be found at www.tappingintogenius.com and he can be contacted for booking at firstname.lastname@example.org.