My wife and I were seated in a restaurant when a family of four — mother, father, a girl who may have reached her third birthday, and an infant — were seated one table away from us. More correctly, they were shown to a table because immediately the parents began asking the little girl where she wanted to sit.
They both stood while she went about making her decision, trying chairs until she settled on one; or seemed to, because as soon as the parents sat, she wanted to move, so she and her father switched.
Then the parents began asking her what she wanted to eat. She wanted this, no, that, no, back to this, no, that, but she didn’t seem sure. When the food came, the girl decided her plate did not look right, and so they played musical entrees.
I had two thoughts: first, that parents of just two generations past simply ordered for their children without asking their opinion; second, that this family’s restaurant drama was typical.
Such is the stuff of nouveau, post-1960s parenting, axiomatic to which is the notion that children should be given choices. When asked why this should be, liberal parenting pundits will say things like “So they learn how to make choices.”
Funny. My parents never gave me choices about such things as what I was going to eat or where I was going to sit. Yet, I grew up capable of making choices. When all is said and done, letting children make choices is really letting children be in control of things they have no business being in control of, like where they sit in a restaurant, what they eat, and where they sleep, when they begin using the toilet, etc.
That little girl would be a happier camper if her parents simplified her life by taking the reins of leadership. They could begin by letting her make fewer choices. Children accept leadership. They abuse control.
Family psychologist Rosemond answers questions at www.rosemond.com.