I would rather let my daughter have a voice
I met few moms at a friend’s party. I met them for the first time. We were sitting together chatting in a group. One mom was praising one of the other moms in the group because her child (around 4 or 5 years old) sleeps on time, gets up on time, eats on time, does homework on time, does everything the mom tells the child to do. I shared my views that childhood is a very precious time, so let the child have some freedom to make his/her own decisions where he/she can ask for one more bedtime story before going to sleep, or another 10 minutes in the bath, or some extra play time, just a little flexibility, just a little more fun. I could see the other moms were not very happy with what I said, because the whole group was appreciating the amount of obedience and compliance the child showed. The child was being described as “well trained”. That is ok because discipline and compliance is what parents look for in their children. I do too, but I will not like the kind of obedience and compliance in my child (or any child for that matter) that is damaging to a child’s personality development, thinking and expression.
I didn’t continue the conversation on the same topic, but I wanted to share with moms that when flexibility is possible, it’s not a bad idea to let it in, but when not possible, let the child know that not this time. This way the child understands different situations in life, and not live life like a constant time driven, command driven machine with no mind of its own. How about letting them have a say and some freedom to decide.
From my own childhood I remember that I felt so helpless and lost. I had to do everything to please and impress the elders around me, though even that didn’t prove sufficient. I wasn’t asked what I dreamt of, what kind of person I want to be, or who is my role model. Well I didn’t have a role model, my only vision of myself as a grown up was a person sitting in an office at a higher rank, giving orders. That vision was shared by almost every friend around me. We were fed by the society at that time, who we were supposed to be when we grow up, so that we can earn good money and reputation. The thinking process was just limited to being good at studies (only that would lead to that officer’s place), and not about being an intelligent, healthy individual with good values.
Maybe you’ll say, all that’s fine, but what if the child makes a bad/wrong decision? My idea is to let the child have freedom to decide only in some matters, not all, and as a parent I can think of the situations where this can be allowed. Second, they know that they have the right to make their own decisions in a matter, but until they are old enough, they can’t put their thoughts to action unless mom or dad says yes to it. And if parents explain why no, it makes the child aware of the consequences of a bad decision. And if they explain why yes, the child gets appreciation and encouragement for making a good decision. Or parents may even decide to give them complete freedom in a couple situations if that doesn’t hurt.
Once they get the right guidance through this way, they’ll know what to do and how to face different situations in life with more confidence. This way the child feels that he/she has some control over his/her own life, and that he/she is being respected by being asked for his/her thoughts.
Another good thing about it is that if the decision is made by the child himself/herself, he/she will not deviate from it. On the other hand If it is an order or something he/she is supposed to follow without question, there is a chance that the child may decide to not follow the orders anymore, and follow his/her heart instead! So why not let the child develop the habit of making the right decisions from the very beginning? I feel that is a good way to develop a child’s self-respect, confidence and self-worth.
As opposed to my own childhood, I give my daughter the freedom to think, develop good decision making, and the ability to understand who she is, and who she wants to be. Instead of mindless obedience and compliance, I feel that it will be better for her to develop good qualities like discipline, hard work and good values with the right guidance and support throughout her growing years. Her decisions will be therefore based on her own intellect, based on her own dreams.