Choices

“We are our choices.”  ~ Jean-Paul Sartre

Our choices define us, guide us, break us and make us who we are. But how often do we allow our children to make their own choices?

Let me begin from the time when I was a child. My parents believed they were pretty generous in letting me have things my way, when in my heart it was not the case. From the dolls I played with to the clothes I wore, the friends I had, to what I did with my free time, all was guided by what my parent’s deemed right for me. I was given choices but before my little mind could rationalize what it really wanted to do, my parents would have already finalized it for me.

I never resisted because the idea “Parents know it better” was drummed into my mind to seal the deal, every single time. Time flew, I grew and little did I knew that what started with which frock I should wear to a party or which water bottle should I buy, would go ahead to what subjects should I pick in high school to my line of work and not stopping at that, but also playing a life-changing or more aptly life-damaging role in choosing who should I spend the rest of my life with.

In writing it sounds rather foolish or weird on my part to have allowed all this to happen to me. But deep down, though it felt like my parents were stepping on my toes, I felt like a puppet in their hands dancing to their tunes. Blame it on social conditioning or my timidness, but all along the only thing I remember being said was, “She chose to do so.”

The lack of freedom to choose, to be able to take my time, analyse based on my liking right from the time I was a toddler bloomed into a personality disorder where I learnt to look up to my parents for every choice in life. Initially, the instant success was exhilarating, but as I grew and my liking forked ways from that of my parents’, the burden of bearing the cross of other’s expectations began to weigh me down.

But, I had no inkling of how to act otherwise. My mind was handicapped because it’s decision-making center hadn’t grown beyond that of a three-year-old. I wanted to be assertive but I was lost because I lacked clue about the steps needed to form an opinion.

My parents successfully saved me from failing in my early years, but failed to teach me how to continue onward on that winning spree. In the doldrums of my life when everyone, including my parents decided to part ways with me, I reflected, dug up my life to realize where did it all start. This is what guided me to implement a new strategy in bringing up my own child.

The strategy was simple. I would walk through my child what each choice would entail and then leave it up to her to choose. Sounds simple, but living in the same home as my parents, implementing something unheard of in my family took me lot of assertion to achieve.

Choices - The Era I Lived In

The results in the start were crazy. My daughter would insist on wearing one particular frock to every party, to always eat savory foods over anything sweet, to pick only dresses, frocks or skirts to wear and no pants of any sort, to choose floral prints for everything around her and so on.

It was a first for me to let someone dear have her way. I was warned I was ruining a child’s future. I was shunned for being a parent who couldn’t control her child’s choices, but I played along.

When Pari opts to stop eating when she is full, I never force feed her or tell her to clean up her plate. Instead I encourage her to serve smaller portions in the future so that nothing goes waste. When Pari insists on eating an ice cream for dinner, I offer her the choice to race with me in finishing the dinner and the winner getting a larger scoop of ice-cream.

No, not always my tricks work. Neither do I always agree upon the choices Pari makes. I do make sure to find a way of letting her know my points of view but I let her have the final word. When things go wrong, we sit back and talk about how the outcome could have been different. This way, choosing is a first step to adding to experiences for my child without pressing her heart down with my wishes or biases.

Giving away something you’ve never had on your own can be pretty daunting but the hope to see my child achieve what I can only dream of is motivation enough to let me continue on my new-found path.

Are you letting your children make their own choices?

Choices - The Era I Lived In-1

* This post is part of the April A to Z Challenge 2016. My theme is Parenting.

Please find my other posts here.

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73 thoughts on “Choices

  1. Oh yes we are what we are because of the choices we have made..
    And you definitely are doing brilliantly with the little one.. good luck and I am sure the little one will not disappoint you with the choices she makes.. It all a part of growing up….

    Like

    1. I am trying my best Bikram, rest is up to life to show me how the choices I am making as a parent will bear fruit 🙂
      Thank you so much for your constant support, it means a lot 😀

      Like

  2. I agree with you that we are not really raised to learn to make our choices or decisions, and that makes being an adult much harder.. I’m trying to acquire this skillset as an adult.. While I am not a parent, I can imagine that you’ve chosen a hard path and that takes a lot of courage.. kudos to you for doing that and good luck on this path!

    Like

    1. Welcome to my space Kinmin 🙂
      I have had the luxury or rather convenience of treading on pre-decided path in the earlier years of my life. But where it took me is not where I like being. This is why I decided to take the path less taken with my child to see how different life can be.
      Thank you so much 😀

      Like

  3. I love the honesty and rawness in your writing voice. 🙂 It is engaging and enlightening, Era. 🙂 I think I have always made my choice. Not that I am not a good kid but as the eldest among six siblings, I have been independent even at a young age. BUt i still need my parents guidance. 🙂

    Love these lines: Giving away something you’ve never had on your own can be pretty daunting but the hope to see my child achieve what I can only dream of is motivation enough to let me continue on my new-found path.

    It showed you love for you kids. 🙂

    @rosemawrites from
    A Reading Writer

    Like

    1. Welcome to my blog Rosema 🙂
      I can imagine how wonderful it must be to have made your own choices. I know it wouldn’t always have been easy, but still the lessons learnt are precious. I agree, we need our parents’ guidance from time to time but having the final word in matters concerning our life must make it worth the effort.
      Thank you so much for your wonderful words 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That is so true. 🙂 I felt the especially when I am choosing my college course. My dad want me to take education as it is easy to land a job. But I followed my heart and took Journalism. It was great following your heart but when I was jobless for almost a year, I also thought if I should’ve followed my dad.

        Thank you for the warm welcome! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I know the initial struggle always makes us doubt if we’ve made the right choice. But that’s the real trial phase. Life wants to see how desperately we want our choices to work by putting us in a pool like a baby waiting for us to battle our way out. But the initial struggle always prepares us enough to make it through. So stay put, don’t second guess.
          Wishing you all the success in Journalism 😀

          Liked by 2 people

          1. That is so true! Looking back that was the lowest point of my life. I graduated with honors but was left jobless for so long. But it taught me humility. 🙂 Now I am a writer, not a journalist yet, but soon. 🙂

            Thank you Era!

            Liked by 1 person

  4. I subscribe to the idea of letting our children make a few poor choices when they are young and the stakes are low Otherwise they will not be equipped to make the difficult decisions when they enter adulthood.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Welcome to my blog Molly 😀
      Too True. The hardships of early years are just a preparation to lay a strong foundation for a better, confident future. If we as parents won’t let our children stumble or fall, we’ll never be able to see them walk, run or for that matter even fly later in life.

      Like

  5. I wouldn’t say I wasn’t given a choice. I was always. N it is for this reason that I do not like when other people decide things for me. It is always better to have your own choices. Taking advice is fine but forcing things is suffocating

    Like

    1. True. Guidance is something we all need, but having to do as said all the time gives the feeling of being a caged bird.
      So glad Seeya you’re a confident person who follows her heart and makes own choices 😀

      Like

  6. pixie

    I loved what you have written. I am sure Pari will make the right choices 🙂
    And she has you as her support system to recover and learn from her mistakes 🙂
    And the problem as I see it is – parents are scared that their children will fail. Failure and how to recover from a setback is something that isn’t taught by all parents.
    My mum always tells me that whatever else that we may teach our children, we must teach them to fail and then recover from that.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The failures and setbacks I have faced in my life have shown me that no battle can ever be won without being wounded. Then why not train for the bigger battles in life right from childhood never being scared by the falls, scratches or failures.
      Your mom is very right Pixie, as parents being over-protective comes rather naturally. It takes a conscious effort to take step back and let the child be on his/her own, watching but not rushing to help unless really needed.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Totally agree with you Archana that installing the virtue of accountability along with the freedom of choice is crucial in raising kids with balanced personalities 🙂

      Like

  7. Sara

    I think it all boils down to the personality of both the parents and child and the kind of relationship one has with their parents. Not all of us are mature enough for our respective ages and unable to analyze ourselves properly hence blindly following what our parents choose for us works out . In my case it has, though many a time I’ve felt resentment towards them at that particular time but i realized later how futile it was. Because agreeing with their choice seemed easier and reasoning it out with them was exhausting and often resulted in unpleasant scenes at home. Unfortunately it doesn’t work for everyone that way because some had to deal with irrational and unreasonable parents who thought they had their children’s best interests at heart but simply dictated their choice to satisfy their egos, please the society and god knows what reason, only to have their children’s abilities/careers nipped in the bud and have them deal with miserable relationships. I’d like to say I had the choice of making my own decisions at a few very important turn of events in my life and I have more regrets about not going with my parents decision than I had with implementing mine. The only choice they cannot force on me is marriage because my religion is against it. Also whenever the outcome of going with their decision was bitter at least I would’ve had the feeling of satisfaction and calm of having listened to them. Why you ask? Watch this song . 😊 Hope what I’ve said makes sense.

    Like

    1. Spot on!
      It has to do a lot with the personalities of the parent(s) and the child. But an overall clarity of our parenting goals helps decide our plan of action better.
      Thank you for sharing your valuable experiences and perspective.
      {Hugs}

      Like

  8. Oh yes! Our choices shape our lives and who we become. As parents, I believe there needs to be a balance between imposing your choice on a child and letting the child choose. It’s a very fine balance, no doubt!

    Like

  9. This is so good. I should say that I wasn’t given much choice. I hated Mathematics, but did engineering. Wanted to do MBA, but as Dad said every Tom, Dick and Harry was an MBA holder, so he wanted me to do M.tech. I’m not complaining though. Life for me had turned out good. But if given a choice, I would have been a professional dancer, I guess. A dream which couldn’t be fulfilled. 🙂

    Brilliant write, ME!

    Like

  10. Whew, this is a tough call to take! I guess one does need to let kids make up their own minds and choices…but only eventually! I am from an older generation where I think it is vital to ‘guide’ not enforce children to make the right choices till they are physically and mentally mature to handle everything on their own. That’s my feeling! This was a challenging take on C…huh?! Cheers
    @KalaRavi16 from
    Relax-N-Rave

    Like

    1. I agree on the importance of ‘guiding’ our children all along. But there exists a thin line between being a gentle guide and the one who takes all decisions on part of their children all through their growing years. The children have at some point or the other need the freedom to make choices, fail, fall and stand strong to move on guided by their own instincts.
      Indeed it was a tough call for letter ‘C’ 🙂
      Thank you for sharing your valuable perspective Kalaravi.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Choices.

    Yes one must be free to choose …guidelines is different and forced decision are different .
    I now can connect a bit from you,becoz I was also forced to study what my parents wanted plus if anytime I made my choice and couldn’t get success in that I was told it was your choice with no support in the work.

    But now the age is changing. .
    I can see parents like you , who spend this much time on thinking and analysing .
    I wish to be like you .. I won’t ever force anyone about anything .

    Keep writing .

    @dixita011 from
    Cafenined words

    Like

    1. Thank you CW for your support to my line of thought 🙂
      There can never be any definite right or wrong in matters of parenting. But, every technique and ever choice has its consequences. Letting others decide for us all our growing up years puts us at the risk of never learning the nitty gritty of evaluating the pros and cons before deciding anything. I’m glad you’ve decided to choose for yourself and teach the same to the next generation 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Novemberschild

    Choose to Get Excited Every Day – Without excitement, we are not fully alive. Some people are fortunate: they get excitement every day from their job. But if you don’t (or even if you do), find excitement, again for at least half an hour, in some activity that really turns you on — sport, sex, dancing, games, gambling, playing cards, anything at all that doesn’t do you or someone else harm. Modern life is often far too tame. We are designed to get our thrills (and if we don’t, we may turn to destructive drugs to do that for us). Shout, scream, holler, or just enjoy — but do it intensely. Before you start each day, work out what is going to give you half an hour of excitement. If it has a strong physical element, so much the better.

    Like

    1. I’m glad to learn you’ve always had the freedom to make your own choices.
      Being an over-protective parent does more harm to the child than keep them safe in the long run 🙂

      Like

  13. 2 AM Writer

    I am glad that your baby girl has a cool mommy who’ll understand her. What if you make a few mistakes, what if there are a few rough roads? the joy of making your own choices and becoming your own person is unparalleled.

    Like

  14. “It is our choices that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.” ~ Albus Dumbledore.
    Making decisions on your own is really a good skill to learn at a young age. Life showers us with so many decisions to make, and as we grow older, the problems just get more complex. I like the ice-cream idea! 😀

    Liked this post ❤

    Like

    1. Over-protective parenting results in insecure children in the long run. That’s why it’s crucial to hold back our protective instincts from going overboard 🙂
      Thank you so much Kaddu ( Did I tell you that I absolutely loved your name 😀 )

      Like

  15. That is the approach my husband and I take with our little girl Bambi. We allow her to make her own choices even though many a times we do not agree with her choices or for sure know that her choice is wrong. Still we allow her to make her own choices while also telling her honestly how we feel about her choices. It is hard at times but I think it is important to treat our children with respect and listen to what they have to say and more importantly treat them as a person than ‘just ‘ a kid. With Bambi what we have found is if we listen to one thing she wants to do her way, we can easily get her to do many things that we would like her to do our way. In doing so, however we still make sure that she makes an informed choice ( as best as a 4 year old can do) and that she is not blindly doing things just because we want her to do it that way.

    I totally agree with your way of parenting Pari in terms of letting her choose what she likes to do.

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    1. Wow! so excited to learn about Bambi and that she is as old as my daughter 😀
      I agree with you on the trick of allowing children to do as they please in one area and see them magically follow our instructions in other areas. Overall, when balanced well it is a win-win for both parents and well as the children 😀

      Like

  16. inquisitivegeet

    You know earlier I was devoided of many things to choose for myself. Every decision was taken by my father and the options given to me were barely any. May be that’s the reason why, today of given any choice about any single thing, I choose to do it myself. i don’t give the liberty to any damn person to pick things or make choices for me. I feel it’s my thing and I’ve given enough and now it’s my time to make choices for my life. I do get a bit stubborn at this, but I really can’t help this instict.

    Your take and examples on this word are just perfect.

    Loved your post to the core.

    Thanks for writing this one

    Cheers,
    Geets

    Like

    1. We all learn as we grow up, but the lessons and experiences of our childhood are always pivotal, around which our whole lives revolve.
      I’m so glad you took the reigns of your life in your hands and are leading life on your own terms.
      Thank you so much Geet for liking my post 😀

      Like

  17. Shilpa Garg

    Agree with you, we need to trust our children to be able to make the right decisions. And allow them to make mistakes and learn from their mistakes.

    Like

    1. Social conditioning works like magic. Compelling us to follow a way of life without reasoning while controlling our behavior and thinking. It takes a conscious effort to break-free but is worth what it takes 😀
      Thank you Reema 🙂

      Like

  18. I totally agree that our choices make us who we are! And also parents should be like you, encouraging children to make wise choices, guiding them in the process but not spoon-feeding them! Everyone, even a child, needs to learn from his/her choices!

    Nibha @ Expressions

    Like

  19. This article really hits home, as I, too, am trying to raise my daughters with freedom of choice, often facing the disapproval of some elders in my family as a result. I was raised to be a good, quiet, obedient child and never to question the decisions my parents made for me. Then I was thrust out into the world and left to make my own choices about the direction of my life after college. Wow, that was an eye-opener!

    I don’t exactly regret any of the choices I have made so far in life, but with hindsight I would do things a little differently, as I am sure we all would. Thanks for sharing, and see you around on the #AtoZChallenge 🙂 http://spookymrsgreen.com/

    Like

    1. We both have been there, seen that, done that and realized that letting our children be is actually in their own larger interest.
      Best wishes for the A to Z challenge and will surely see you around 😀

      Like

  20. Ah! A lovely post I must say! Pari is lucky to have you and you are brave enough to ensure that Pari does not go through what you had to face..
    Its so true that many times parents start being over protective about their kids and if something goes wrong, they actually say that after all you chose it! And you end being left in the lurch!
    Loved the last picture and the wordings in it ❤

    Cheers,
    Srivi
    The Piscean Me | Twitter

    Like

    1. Being over-protective as a parent comes rather naturally. Restraining those emotions and allowing our child to be on their own takes a conscious effort. It’s tough for the parents as well as the child in the start but worth the effort in long run 😀
      Thank you so much Srivi for your wonderful words 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  21. Not a parent yet, but I can say I’ve been in your shoes, I guess. The ‘parents know better’ mentality. But in the future, I feel guiding and nurturing my child is what I’d do, not spoonfeed or make their choices myself. You’re right. 🙂

    Like

  22. Consequence of choice is key. As a mother who worked frequently away from my home country, my kids were forced to grow up on their own, they made many choices on their own and learnt from their mistakes. Thankfully they also reverted to me if the choice was a life changing one! You can have one or many children, no two will be the same, they are all individuals with their own choices. Because I left them for long periods of time I also could not influence their choices too much. Today I can say I am happy I took this parenting pathway, my kids can make mature decisions that I am proud of. Not sure if works for everyone. I am amazed at your readers response. Truly a good sharing my sweet Era.

    Like

    1. The best and also the worst part of parenting is there are no set rules. We are allowed room to follow our heart, guided by our circumstances and sincerely hope our efforts pay off.
      Your experience is proof enough that letting kids be on their own often strengthens them and doesn’t make them severe ties with their parents. I am glad your kids could see why you chose what you did and trusted you enough to evolve as strong individuals who make you proud 🙂
      Thank you Singledust for your constant support ❤

      Like

  23. We definitely are our choices. Its sad to learn how some choices changed you .. in the past .. effected you in a way. But the brighter side is what you take away . the choice you’ve made now for your child is so positive..:)

    Like

    1. Like everything else, my childhood surely had some major pluses otherwise I wouldn’t have been who I am today. It’s only when we put the pieces together and see the whole picture that spans over 400+ posts we get an inkling of this mammoth reality.
      Thank you CM 😀

      Like

      1. you are so right.. but the imp thing is that you have learnt something about yourself and you are putting it to good use.. cant say that about a lot of us 🙂
        good going!

        Liked by 1 person

  24. Pingback: Obedience – The Era I lived in

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