Decision-Making Should 
Include Entire Family

Teresa P. Thompson

© Copyright 2002 by Teresa P. Thompson


Photo of Teresa.
     In this country there seems to be age limitations on almost everything.  As we are all aware, 16 is the age when we may acquire a driver’s license; 18 is legal voting age; and our twenty-first birthday gives us official adult status.

     Of course, age limitations do prove to be necessary in such situations as these.  But at what age should we be allowed to voice our opinions and give our input into decision-making?  No one seems to have, yet, set an exact age limit for this privilege.

     Views seem to vary from one adult to another concerning this subject, especially when it involves our children.  Some people feel that children should be seen and not heard.  Others firmly believe in children having the right to state their opinions inside the family unit.  Perhaps the only difference between these is the creation of “followers’ or “leaders” in our future society.

     The stating of one’s beliefs and good decision making are not qualities that an individual just wakes up and grabs onto when he or she becomes adult age.  These are traits that must be acquired and perfected over time.

     If an individual isn’t given the chance to practice these skills during childhood and early adolescence, perhaps, it could make for less that adequate adult potential.

     I was raised with the “to be seen and not heard” theory.  From my own experience, I realize that, if I had been given the opportunity to voice my own opinions as a child, it would have been much easier to do as an adult.

     While I am not saying that my parents were wrong for using the method of their generation, it seems that through progress and knowledge, today’s parenting generation should be aware of the importance of change.

     When I became a parent, I chose to take a different route than the one in which I had been raised.  From the time my daughters have been old enough to talk they have all been encouraged to voice their opinions.

     As their mother, I may not have always agreed with their beliefs and thoughts, but, through family discussions and sharing of their opinions, I feel that it has thus far made them better decision makers.

     Progress in the area of child psychology shows us that the foundation for a happy, fulfilling adulthood is based on the bridges of childhood.  When children are allowed to express their opinions within the family, they are being given a responsibility that will most definitely carry over into their adult lives.  It seems logical to say that they will be more confident and self-assured in expressing themselves and their ideas.
     This is not to indicate that children do not need rules and regulations, but it seems much easier, as parents, for us to give “Susie” a choice between two outfits, instead of  demanding she wear the on in which we pick out.  By allowing her to express her opinion in such a minor area today, we are giving her a step toward the confidence she will need in expressing herself concerning bigger issues tomorrow.

     While we have no guarantee that expressing childhood opinions and decision making will ensure that our children will someday become national leaders, we can be assured that they will become better leaders in their own lives.

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