They chose to pool financial resources to purchase a longed -for game....
I was a mainstream parent, I wouldn't have thought of 11 and 8.5
years as ages I at which I would often witness mature, independent,
future-thinking behavior from my children.
Jeremiah discussed apprenticeships, internships, and maybe taking
some community college classes.
read and discussed her bank statement, set up a budget for a future
planned purchase, and made video chatting appointments with her best
friend, who happens to live a state away.
believe that control, school, parental restrictions and requirements,
and other trappings of being a "good parent" in this
American society, can cripple children, from the beginning, maybe
from before conception, if the parents' ideas of how they will raise
their as-yet unborn children are too rigid.
these external and adult directed hours and activities take time,
attention, and energy from living their own choices, and tell them,
over and over, that they are not to be trusted to make important
choices for themselves.
Choosing to wear summer clothes on a cool fall day (I carried her unneeded jacket).
I was the ages my children are now, I was very much under the control
of all the adults in my life. I was not expected to use my own
judgment; I was required to obey instantly. I was given little
choice in how that life would play out – even my play might be
disrupted at any time, at the whim of any adult.
me, it is a matter of deciding which matters more to me - that
Jeremiah and Annalise obey me, or that they develop a reliable and
adaptable sense of judgment.
The joy of choosing to create with snap circuits..
they respect all adults equally, simply because they are
adults, or that, again, they develop judgment of their own, to know
which adults might be trusted, and which have failed to earn their
was a time when I demanded obedience. Somehow, likely because it was
one of those unexamined thoughts that's not often even noticed, I
thought that their obedience, and my rules and punishments, would
imbue them somehow with good judgment.
Miah chose to keep his catch, and Lise to release hers.
are told, in many ways, that this is true...that children need rules,
boundaries, consequences, follow-through, schooling, extracurricular
activities, and control in nearly every aspect of their lives, if
they are to grow up to be responsible, productive members of society
who know right from wrong, can be trusted among society, and who will
'amount to something'.
we are told, as parents, that rules and consequences imposed
consistently over time will help a child to learn good judgment...
if that's true, then why do the punishments last throughout life? Why
are older children grounded, and adults fines or jailed? Why
is it that the climate of punitive consequence remains a part of our
culture? Why do we need law enforcement, jails, and courts?
because what the requirement of obedience imparts is not good
judgment, but the ability to follow rules - or to give the semblance
of having followed the rules. Sneakiness is common, after all,
amongst people who are expected to obey or suffer the consequences of
disobedience. My children are generally only sneaky to perpetrate
pranks, while planning surprises, or when keeping harmless secrets...not
because they fear the result of honestly claiming their own actions - even when they are wrong, and know it.
not from obeying, how is judgment learned?
Choosing to stack firewood.
think it comes from making choices - I don't mean "Will you
choose the blue shirt, or the green one?" or "Will you do
your math or your English homework first?" or "carrots or
broccoli for your vegetable?"
are often the only kinds of choices kids are given, and, even when
very young, they tend to be able to see that these choices aren't the
choices matter. It's "I don't want to wear the blue shirt OR the
green shirt. I want the orange dress, or Daddy's chef coat, or
fingerpaint as a shirt, or no clothes at all or to change in and out
of all my shirts and have four baths today, too."
"I would rather play Crayon Physics; paint your portrait; invent
a machine to make Pokemon real; look up guinea pig care and Monster
circuits, Legos, blankets, or food; film stop-action videos; collect
bird's nests; do virtual surgery; learn Japanese; shovel snow; or
make three types of eggs at once...."
"Why not just eat the carrot and the top. for something green?;
no, I'm not hungry: romaine and Nutella; share some veggies with the
guinea pigs; can I have barbecue chips and a Green Machine smoothie
instead?; I need protein now, because I'm feeling cranky; maybe I
should just have some water; can I eat these pepper seeds?; has
everyone gotten some of these cookies?; and can we put cream cheese
on the shopping list?"
Choosing to build a campfire.
comes from making choices that could go wrong; choices that have
inherent stakes to them, rather than adult-invented consequences ("If you don't eat your vegetables, you can't have dessert." "If you don't do your chores, you can't watch TV.").
Festive choices....like dancing on a closed street....
Choosing this shirt over that is not much of
a choice, if you already feel comfortable in either. Choosing to be
naked, though, means that you might have to skip having company or
going away from your house, and wearing paint may mean places you
can't sit, and the eventual necessity of a potentially unpleasant
with our children, we've come to a place where we only make the
essential decisions they legitimately can't make for themselves yet,
or those they ask us to make for them. All others, they handle
Choosing business, art, and writing Kanji Japanese anime titles...
they get it just right, and other times, things go wrong, or the
unforeseen occurs. Yet, successful or not, carried within each
decision and action is another kernel of judgment waiting to be
discovered, as they arrange and live their lives.
me, that's far more important than kids who obey fallible me, without
judging whether that's a good idea!