Helping Children Make Wise Decisions

How can children best make decisions? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.
I have been reading a book called Grand Theft Childhood which is about claims that violent video games produce violent kids. (Review coming.) I read a section recently based on the interviews as parents and their kids were interviewed separately and they were talking about the ESRB rating system. For those who don’t know, that’s a video game system that rates video games in a similar way to how TV shows and movies are rated.
The mother was sure her 13 year-old son wasn’t playing any games she didn’t approve of. He gave a different story. He and his seventeen year-old brother knew how to trick her. When they went to a video store to rent a game, they sought out the worst one they knew she wouldn’t approve of. After she said no, they found the one that they really wanted which looked good by comparison then and she approved.
Most of us likely grew up with such tricks. Children I suppose have always been trying to manipulate their parents. For instance, do you want to do something that could be dangerous? Ask Dad first.
Now I don’t know the religious status of this family, but I did see a problem here with how we raise our children. These boys are teenagers and their mother is still having to approve their decisions? If they lived in biblical times, the youngest would likely at least be preparing to have his own children and the oldest likely already would.
How long can this last? When the kids go to college, does anyone really think that they will ask for Mom’s approval? Not a bit. They will immediately be doing the things Mom forbade them from doing.
What do you do then? Won’t they leave home and mess up immediately? Won’t they be the ones the parents tried to prevent them from being? There is a solution.
Don’t make the decisions as they get older. Begin early on teaching them how to make good decisions. Give them a worldview whereby they can make informed choices and they will be their choices as well. If they make mistakes, they own them and suffer the consequences. If they make good ones, they also own them and reap the benefits.
For many parents, it can be tempting to be helicopter parents and hover over their children to protect them from all harm. You can’t. If anything, in the long run, this will likely lead to more harm for your kids. If you teach them instead how to be wise in decision-making instead of just going by what feels good at the moment, you will set them up for a lifetime of success.
Remember, your job as a parent is to be the one to actually work yourself out of a job. When your kids reach the stage where they are making wise decisions independent of you, then you have succeeded. The old saying is that if you give a man a fish you feed him for a day but if you teach him how to fish you feed him for a lifetime. If you make your child’s decision you protect them for a day, but if you teach them how to make wise decisions, you protect them for a lifetime.
Also, if you want a resource for younger children, I definitely recommend Elizabeth Urbanowicz’s Foundation Worldview resource.
In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)