Monday, 2 March 2009

Your Choice Kid

I really enjoy talking with my son, stating before that we are friends as well as parent and child.

I still take the role of the adult - most of the time – but I like to think of our relationship as a partnership, perhaps more a cooperative, than boss and subordinate.

We make a great and formidable team, complimenting each other well, perfectly in my opinion.

But I have to remember who I am talking to.

At times I court his opinion when really I should not be entertaining it. I have learnt to curtail that for things like getting him dressed, cooking for dinner or choosing bed time reading.

It is much better to give him options, than letting him start from scratch.

I am not as alternative as some others.

But, for me, it is a balance of consultation versus time.

If he is given complete remit it can take an age for him to come to a decision, and one that might change, and he goes back on, and gets upset about if that change of mind comes too late.

While this is true, I just find it natural to talk things through with him, and seek his opinion on stuff, however random and changeable it is.

Today, is usually my domestic day, while Max goes off for an almost weekly adventure with his grandparents.

Yet this week, they are on holiday, and therefore we get an extra day with one another. And due to the frequency of these days, I generally choose to do the ad-hoc stuff I have discussed with him in the past. The more expensive trips out, I suppose.

However, today we had our plumber due for a tidy up job, and to bring us a VAT refund.

He was fitting us in, and as his arrival for these tasks has been scheduled before, I was reluctant to reschedule again.

Therefore I did not plan much for today, merely thinking of options depending on how much time we had left either side of this guy showing up.

The choices given were a maiden cinema voyage to watch ‘Bolt’, which after watching the trailer he seemed very keen on. Then the alternatives were ten-pin bowling, or a simple trip out to one of our local parks.

As the weather was dry but windy, the later was by far my least favourite choice, and thus instantly became my boy’s first one.

But after getting him ready for such an outing, and actually stepping out into the weather I had described, he was a little deterred.

Problem being that the cinema showing I had targeted was now not going to fit into our revised day, and therefore no longer an option.

Yet explanations like that do not seem to fly with a four-year-old.

Luckily, he was soon happy, and warm, enough to continue with plan A, his plan A to be precise.

I rested in the knowledge that the place we were headed to was actually only a short walk from one of my other alternative ideas, the bowling.

However, as cold as I was, Max was more than warmed by my attempt at being the kid this time, and trying to get round an obstacle course without touching the ground.

I failed miserably.

Which was the best possible outcome. Share/Save/Bookmark


Melissa said...

I can relate to your life with your son. I was a single mom from the time my son was 6 months old until about the age of 7. I tried to allow Ian to make his own choices, especially when it came to choosing clothing, toys and how we spent our time. But there were times when allowing him to make his own decisions backfired because he didn't have the wisdom of years to understand the consequences of his choice. What happened today with Max is a good example because his choice had to take into consideration the film's showtime. It was unlucky that his first choice didn't work out.

Ian and I were very close when he was young as well. We even slept in the same room together until he was 5. But he is 17 now and I can tell you that the closeness changes because the teen years demand that you take on the role of authoritarian. Even though they tell you different, they want (and need) someone to give them rules, direction and consistency. It was very hard on me when that closeness disappeared. I still miss my little boy. Maybe the dynamic will be different for you since you are his father.

Jo Beaufoix said...

Choice is good, but I'm learning like you to give them options rather than let them pick something from the ether. Though sometimes it's fun to hear what they come up with. :D

Bee and Rose said...

I have always given my children choices (within my guidelines) to help them gain the knowledge that every choice has a consequence and sequence of events that follow it. My kids have become fantastic decision makers and really think things through now:) Not saying I'm perfect...we've had our moments of really bad choices! But we've learned through them all.
I am truly grateful that my kids and I are so very close:) Another brilliant post, SPD!

Split-Second Single Father said...

I agree wholeheartedly with what the others have said. I like to call it giving my daughter "structured choices". She gets to learn how to make decisions, and I can rest easy in the knowledge that either choice is safe and feasible.

I have a relative whose kids have been allowed to make their own decisions blindly from Day One (her youngest even chose his own preschool!) This has not served him well. At five, my daughter is able to make better decisions with more ease than he can at age eight.

There's a learning curve for all parents. Thanks for sharing yours in this situation.

rosiescribble said...

Sounds like you are doing a wonderful job. It is great to read that talking to him and getting his opinion on things come naturally. My parents were never like this, and until a year ago I realised that I wasn't discussing things with my daughter, assuming she was too young to have opinions. That's changed now and it does come naturally now. Keep up the good work.

Single Parent Dad said...

Melissa - I understand that it won't be like this forever, but hope it will return this way eventually. Thanks for your comment.

Jo Beaufoix - Indeed it is.

Bee and Rose - Thank you.

Split-Second Single Father - That is great to know, thanks for sharing that gem.

RosieScribble - Thanks for that. We both need to keep yapping.

Celtic Dragon said...

I hear you loud and clear as I have always alowed my children to give their opinions in making choices with the choices I placed in front of them.

I was a single parent for almost 16years and because I let them make choices early in life they are both now asking my opinion before making choices that will affect their future.

My daughter now 18 and my son 16 are at the age where their choices really matter.

I have always told them while growing up "That life is all about choice and the choices you make".

They both now are full of opinons even if I don't like theirs, it is theirs and they are individuals.

My daughter and I have a relationship somewhat like the one you have with your son. We are friends but I am the parent. I have to listen very close on what she may be asking or telling me as we can talk about anything (and yes anything)So I can tell if she is asking for her best friends avdvice or her dads. But the truth is that dad responds as dad as a friend. Does that make sinse?

My son and I have the same relationship as well.

Tismee2 said...

Since I am the bain of my teenager's life judging by the look on his face should I even suggest he does anything around the house and somwehere between "You're a big fat bloke and I don't want to be in your family" and "I love you more than the biggest chicken nugget in the world", I feel I'm not qualified to comment.

MindyMom said...

I always thought kids never notice the weather much. My kids always seem just as happy when it's cold and windy as when it's uncomfortably hot for me. They are just always happy to be outside.

Glad you both enjoyed your day!

SciFi Dad said...

Sometime when I'm alone with my daughter, I try to let her decide what we're going to do. I don't think there's anything wrong with it, personally. Kids are rarely, if ever, in control, and allowing them that privilege prepares them for the time when they have to make their own decisions.

dadshouse said...

Structured choices are great. I do that with dinner all the time. But I don't always let them choose - sometimes I pick, and they live with it. Unless they want to start cooking, then they can pick. (I let them choose enough. We're all happy)

T said...

I think its good to give them options and empower them. They also need to learn that sometimes life doesn't go the way we'd planned. That's when distractions always seem to make things better! (at least with my four year old.... and me too actually...)

Single Parent Dad said...

Celtic Dragon - I think so, and thanks for sharing.

Tismee - I imagine I will be, at best, the same when Max hits teenagedom.

MindyMom - Max was fine after a few moments. It just caught him out on our drive.

SciFi Dad - I agree.

Dadshouse - I am the same, as I know he will pretty much always say sausages, and you can only eat them so many days on the trot.

T - Yes, they do need to understand life doesn't always go the way you want it to, but also to understand it is out of their control, and not look for someone to blame it on.

Mama Nabi said...

Sigh. LN and I butt heads all the time these days over choices made and minds changed. When we are already 10 minutes late, soon to be an hour late to school and work, I can't help wanting to bash my head in with the porcelin toilet water tank cover after braiding her hair only to be told that she would prefer pigtails.

I'm going to need a play by play script of other parents successfully maneuvering this... IT IS SO DIFFICULT!

Sigh. So yes, envy, big envy, that you're making it work... (please tell me this magically started working once Maxy Boy turned 4. Even if it's not true, just tell me.)

Post a Comment