Thursday, July 03, 2014

Children, Mothers, and Choices

We hear a lot about the epidemic of single mothers and fatherless children in Western society. If you want to get truly terrified for these children, watch some of the ways their mothers interact with them.

For instance, watch a mother give her child a choice. I've seen this play out many times, including with the mother of my children.

The following scenario could be either an ice cream flavor or a PS3 game. Doesn't matter. It always follows the same script:

Mother: You get to choose! Do you want this one, or that one?
Child: I want that one!
Mother: Are you sure? You don't want this one?
Child: No, I want that one.
Mother: But don't you think you should get this one?
Child: No, I want that one.
Mother: I think you should get this one. Why don't you just get this one?

At this point, I want to (and have on a few occasions), butted in:

Me: Holy crap, woman! You gave him a choice. Let him make it. If you already have your mind made up, just get him what you want him to have and stop playing this stupid game! How do you expect him to grow up to make his own decisions when you won't let him?

I'm not sure why they do this. I know some (perhaps many) women are control freaks. The kindest explanation I can think of it maybe she knows (or thinks she knows) what's best for her child. I've mostly seen this with boys. I don't know if women do the same thing with little girls.

Still, when you give a choice, just let the child make the choice.

My response to that same scenario is:

Me: Which one do you want?
Child: That one.
Me: OK.

Later:
Child: I don't like this. I should have gotten the other one.
Me: Well, you made a choice. You have to live with it.

On another subject, some children tend to treat every choice as a life altering decision. Yesterday, after work, I drove from Arlington, VA to south New Jersey to get my boys for a few days. I got home late. I drove slightly longer than my workday. But it's the only way to spend time with them.

On the way back through Maryland, we all started to get thirsty. (I was kind of dumb thinking I could make an 8+ hour drive starting out in over 100 degree temperatures with nothing to drink in the car). So I got off the highway to find a gas station. My oldest, Joshua, was taking a long time. He kept bouncing back and forth between the sodas and juices. I finally told him "Just get something, Joshua. It's not a life-altering decision. You're not going to look back in 30 years and say 'I got the wrong drink at Exxon, and it ruined my life'". They laughed. Then I gave him 10 seconds to either choose a drink or go without. That worked.
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