"Choice" is a word that I find myself constantly using. In our home, we don't tell our children they are bad or naughty. Instead, we are teaching them that their behavior is either based on a good choice or a bad choice that they make. I believe all children are good because they are a gift from God, and God's gifts are never bad. But naturally, our children do make bad choices and when this happens, they know there will be a consequence based on the choice they have made. Sometimes it's a consequence directed by us as their parents and other times it's a natural result of their choice. Regardless of the choice, they are empowered to choose (unless it puts their safety at risk of course). This allows our children to make decisions and choices for themselves, but then they also have to be ready to deal with the consequence that follows. When this happens, a lesson is learned (good or bad) and that is our goal! Because our children will continue to make decisions for themselves for the rest of their lives, we feel it's so important to help them get a strong foundation when they are little. The choices they make now will not compare to the choices they will have to make when they get older, but they will understand the concept of consequences and will hopefully use this foundation to make good choices as they get older.
Right now we are in a season with my 3 year old where it's very difficult to get her to eat a variety of things. But, we stick to our guns and she is served the same meal the rest of us have every night (while my 6 year old and 15 month old usually eat it all, so I know it's kid-friendly :). I do this for two reasons. 1) She won't always get what she wants in life and she must learn that now at a young age, even when it comes to meals. 2) I think it's disrespectful for my children not to eat (or at least try) something that someone else has taken the time to prepare. If they don't like it, they don't have to eat it but they must at least try it. There were a few nights when she refused to touch her food. Not even take 1 bite! After it caused a lot of turmoil for my husband and I watching her be so stubborn and not even try it, we finally decided we were not going to make an issue of food. So, I served it to her, she refused to touch it and later she sat in agony watching her sister eat a chocolate cupcake for dessert because the consequence of her choice was not getting dessert! The next night you better believe she found a way to eat her dinner (even though she acted like it was torture) and she was pleased with the consequence of her choice the next evening. The lesson I learned from this is to empower my child to make this choice. If she wants to go to bed hungry because she chooses not to eat her meal, then it's totally up to her! I don't get upset about it anymore because she is the one who has to deal with the consequence and learn the lesson.
I know I've talked a lot about choices in previous posts as well, but one thing I keep being reminded of as a mom is most of what life is all about is our choices. Whether it's making choices for my family or teaching my kids to make their own choices, most things we do in life is done by choice. Every family has different priorities when it comes to choices as well. We are constant role models and our children need to see us making good choices in life. By seeing the good consequences that come from making good choices, we encourage them to do the same and reap the same benefits. There are lessons for them to learn when we make bad choices too. Hopefully the consequences of our bad choices are enough to teach them those bad choices are not worth it.
The thing I love about making choices is we all have the privilege to do it! It's easy to look at our own past and use the excuses "that was the way I was raised so that's all I've ever known" or "I'm not used to that because my family never did that" or "I was not raised to..." but at the end of the day, we all have the ability to choose our own beliefs, habits, values, morals, etc! We all come from different families and so did our parents. Many times we know people whose parent(s) never said "I love you" or hugged each other or they come from a family of addiction or their family never communicated in healthy ways, etc, etc. No matter how difficult the past, we have the choice to break the chain and make healthy choices for our own children! That is our privilege AND responsibility as parents. I also commend people who seek counseling when they feel the need to deal with their hurtful past in order to make sure it doesn't negatively affect their own children. Sometimes it takes becoming a parent to see the impact of our past (good and bad) and then make the choice of what areas need improvement and what we want to continue to pass on to our children. So many of our choices are directly related to how we were raised. Have you ever thought about that? Either we continue to do things similar to the way we were raised, or we choose to change them.
In my journey of motherhood, I'm trying to really think about the choices I'm making for me and my familly and whether they will have a healthy impact in the short-term and long-term. Sometimes it's easy to get in a routine of making choices because "that's what we've always known" or "it's easy and comfortable" but it may not be the best for our children. We also have to think about our choices being passed down from our children to our grandchildren. It's good to ask ourselves, "Is my choice in raising my children this way something I want them to do as a mother or father and pass down to their children?" We won't always make the best choices, but we must do the best with can and be intentional with our choices each and every day.
God Bless :)