Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Just Because You Have To

Tali climbed this against my advice and had a very scary descent!
There seems to be a common perception that kids need to learn to do things 'just because they have to'. People tell me there are lots of things we do just because we have to, like cooking food, math practice, driving safely, paying taxes, etc.

As adults, we don't do things because we have to; we do things because we choose to. I don't want to do my taxes every year, but I choose to. I certainly don't have to pay taxes; sure somebody will be angry and try to punish me or take my money if I don't pay them, but that doesn't stop plenty of other people from refusing to pay or simply hiding away their money. I pay taxes because I choose to. I know I will feel better about myself as a contributing member of society, if I pay. So I do. (Though I may not often like the way the current government chooses to use my money!)

This is how I make every choice. I look at my circumstances and figure out what course of action will serve me best, and proceed. What better skill to teach my children than to make wise choices! Forcing them to do things 'because they have to' is only telling them that they have no choices, and then when the time comes for them to be responsible adults, who will they turn to, to make their choices for them?

But what if they fall? What if they fail? What if they're hurt... or worse? Of course we don't want them to make unwise choices and run into problems. But how will they learn if they are never given freedom to explore? I give my children plenty of advice, but they don't always follow it. And I keep open arms and a good first aid kit around for when their choices don't work out the way they hope they will.

The likelihood is that my children will fall. They will fail. And they will hurt. I try to minimize the hazards, but in the end the pain will teach them to make better choices the next time. There will be no 'just because you have to', and in its place there will be wisdom.

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