Do your children have a voice in your home?

~♥Little Miss - posted on 11/02/2011 ( 14 moms have responded )

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This was prompted by another thread. The question is, do your children have a say in what happens in your home? What they wear? What they eat? If they can participate in elective holidays such as Halloween and Valentines day? Essentially, do you listen to what your kids want and possibly change the rules in your home to accommodate what THEY may want?



For me, the rules in my house are basic for hygiene and food. Everything else we make up as we go. I may have a set of standards that I think we should adhere to, but I am flexible, and I want my children to feel like they have a voice. Do yours? Do you listen to what they want?



***Edited to add: or do you think this gives children to much power, and takes away authority from you as parents?

14 Comments

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Sylvia - posted on 11/04/2011

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Yes, absolutely. Of course there are rules -- DD can't choose not to go to school, she doesn't get to stay up all night, her homework has to be done before she can watch TV, she has to brush her teeth and take showers and so on -- but we're pretty laid back about most things, really.

Take clothes. I'm mystified by mums who insist on policing their kids' fashion choices, lest they go to school looking "tacky" LOL. DD has been dressing herself and picking out her own clothes since she was about two. I do have veto power, in that certain things (too-short skirts, navel-baring tops) I won't buy and, if they're acquired in some other way, can be worn around the house but not out in public; I'll make suggestions re: weather-appropriateness or occasion-appropriateness of a particular outfit (wear something nice to Shabbat services; don't wear shorts in November) but I don't waste my time telling her she shouldn't wear that blue and orange flowered shirt with the bright purple yoga pants. What would be the point?

Our house isn't a true democracy, of course -- two of us have 30+ more years of experience than the other one of us -- but it's not an authoritarian regime either. When we make rules, we explain the reasons for them, or prepare for pushback.

Like JuLeah's DD, mine goes to Hebrew school, and that's not optional -- but when she was unhappy with the one she was going to, I listened to her concerns and involved her in choosing a new one. We made her take swimming lessons, because that's a safety issue; when she wanted to take ballet lessons, we arranged for her to do that, and when at the end of the year she said she didn't want to do that anymore, we said, "OK."

Etc.

At the moment we are debating sleep-away camp. DD has some friends who go to various camps, none of which we can afford, but I told her if she really wants to try overnight camp, we'll look into the much more affordable YMCA camp. DH thinks overnight camp is a terrible idea -- she's too young, she won't know anyone, etc. I think it would be a bad idea to push her to do it, but if she really wants to do it I don't think we should hold her back. We'll have to see what happens. But it's a process of negotiation -- yes, we said "No" to her friend's camp that costs like $2600 for 2 weeks, because we don't have that kind of budget for summer activities, but if what she wants is to try out the summer camp experience, well, there are other options that we can afford to say "Yes" to.

September - posted on 11/03/2011

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Of course our son has a voice in our home, he's human and he's our son that we respect and love very much. As some have already said, when it comes to hygiene, health and safety there's not a lot of choice there. Otherwise I'm all for giving him as many choices as we can, we want to empower our son.

Stifler's - posted on 11/03/2011

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Of course they have a voice in my home. Everything I do is in their best interests, I am their voice. LOL. When Logan and Renae get older if they want to celebrate halloween, valentines, etc. that is fine. Satanism, painting their room black, etc. can wait until they move out. They can have a say but there are limits.

Denikka - posted on 11/02/2011

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Well, my son currently 2.5yrs (daughter is 9mo and not talking, so no say for her XD) and I LOVE to give my son as many choices as I can.
He chooses what clothes to wear (if any, in the summer I have allowed him to just go in a diaper (only at home) mostly because both my kids have issues overheating). So he has a choice between diaper (summer only), just pants, or pants and a shirt, and gets to decide which comfy pants (like sweats or PJ pants) and which shirt he wants (although I may push more for a long sleeve or short sleeved shirt based on the weather).
He gets to decide what he wants every day for lunch and has a fair variety of choice (PB, PB&J or Nutella sandwich, chicken nuggets, leftovers, etc) and I usually ask for his input on dinner.
I give him a certain chunk of time on the TV each day (mom gets to watch her shows XD that's the only must have each day :P) and he gets to decide whether he wants to watch what's on TV (Treehouse network), one of the shows we've recorded (Phineas and Ferb is the favorite) or if he wants to watch a movie. And if he decides movie, he gets to pick from the assortment of kids movies that we have.

So I think he gets TONS of choices, and I love having it that way.
I never got choices growing up. My grandmother (who I lived with from the time I was 6) picked out my clothes every day until I was 10 or 11. I was never trusted to make my own decisions, I was never given the chance to make mistakes or learn on my own. I was never given any freedom, right up until I moved out (to give an example, we had a corner store that was about a 20 minute walk away from the house. We lived in the country and nothing EVER happened out there. I was NEVER allowed to talk to that store, even up until the point that I moved out. I moved out about a month before my 19th birthday)

I think it's important to have some rigid boundaries, but within certain areas, I allow my kids total freedom. I won't bend when it comes to their safety, but even if I say absolutely not, and they can come to me in a rational manner and give me a good reason and well thought out explanation as to why they should be allowed something, I would probably change my opinion (unless of course I know something they don't). But they will be aware of WHY certain boundaries are in place if they disagree with them.

Jurnee - posted on 11/02/2011

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I dont have many rules actually, the house and rooms should be kept neat, i dont assign chores, its just expected to help out when needed. I let my son choose his own clothes, unless its totally inappropriate, like jeans to a formal wedding. I let him choose when to do his hw, as long as its done by shower time. Yes there have been times he didnt wear a jacket and was cold,or didnt get the hw done, but he learned from those choices.We also try to decide together what to do on weekends, but sometimes I have to make an executive decision based on finances.

Medic - posted on 11/02/2011

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Caitlin- A lot of the choices my kids get to make are like how you do with your 3 year old. They are 5 years and 21 months and usually get a few choices, my five year old knows the routine so he gets to just choose.

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Yes, J is 7 now, but he has almost always gotten a choice in almost everything. Of course when he was young, the choices were more limited and were really only an illusion of choice, but through them he was able to practice the decision making process. As he's grown, the choices have broadened and he has gradually been given true control over the years.

Even in areas that cannot be compromised, he can usually still chose when or how he takes action. He's been choosing between a bath and shower for years. He's been choosing to brush his teeth before or after the shower, and which which toothpaste for years. It is not so much that the decisions matter to him, but them make him feel good and important, and they give him practice. I don't want him growing into one of those poor souls who actually stress out and take 15 minutes to place a food order because they didn't get to practice decision making as a kid.

Minnie - posted on 11/02/2011

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I try to give my girls as much choice as I can. I think hygiene, health and safety issues are pretty much the things they don't have a choice on right now.

Caitlin - posted on 11/02/2011

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At the moment - this is a dictatorship - and i'm the dick..

That being said, I don't plan on keeping it like that forever, I want to teach my kids to make the right choices. My kids are too young to make most choices.. My almost 3 year old can pick out her shirt in the morning - that's as far as we've gotten choice wise so far. Oh, tonight she got to chose between a shower and a bath (because she hates both, but hates showers more - so I gave her the illusion of a choice that resulted in much less screaming). We're still figuring these things out in our house, with 3 under 3, I can't have anyone but me ruling the house, I am not ready to give up control yet... That and if I let my oldest chose meals, she's want bread and chocolate for every meal.. I want my kids to think that their opinion matters, and when they are a bit older and discussion is possible, then we'll take it into consideration, but right around now, it's more often than not "my way or the highway (meaning time out)"

Lacye - posted on 11/02/2011

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LOL I know what post you are talking about! :D I will allow my child to make some choices about what they want to do and such things. They won't have a say in what happens like rule wise, I believe that that's my job as the mother. I'm going to stop saying they because I only have one but my daughter will be able to decide what she wants to wear, she can help me plan what we can have for supper, I don't mind any of the holidays, and I will listen to what my children have to say and if they can make a good enough argument, maybe change a rule. That's a big maybe though. I want my daughter to be independent, but I still want to maintain control as the parent. :D

Medic - posted on 11/02/2011

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My kids do have choices, I am not a dictator. We discuss things with them to see if they think there is a better way to do something. If they do not like something they are more than willing to tell us how they feel and then they generally do it. Both kids pick out their clothes and have a say in what we buy, why buy clothes they wont wear. They have chores and are asked to help out extra here and there. It is our jobs as parents to teach our kids how to make it in the real world, and a huge part of that is teaching them to make good choices. Yes sometimes my kids make really crappy choices, and with those choices come both natural and imposed consequences. We teach our kids that "punishments" are not done to them but a choice they made. If kids grow up being told and run like a dictatorship how will they survive in the real world. I don't expect perfection, I accept messups and failures, I do believe we learn more from screwing up than we ever will from succeeding. I will support and their choices, I will point out different choices, and I will teach them how to pick up the pieces when everything comes crashing down. I think todays children are too reliant on there parents and others to FIX things and play the pass the buck game on everything. They can't make it in the real world, nor can they accept failure. Thankfully more often than not they make good choices, when they suck we talk about it and how to fix it. I refuse to fight with my kids or rule with an iron fist, it is not worth the stress and I don't want them trying to control others that way.

JuLeah - posted on 11/02/2011

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There are some things that happen regardless of her views on the topic, and many things in which she gets a voice.

How can she learn to make good choices if never given the chance to practice?

She is almost ten, so I no longer remind her to wear her coat or remember her lunch ....

I do have a 'homework before game' rule ... she does shower, take care of her teeth .... clothes in hamper, do chores ....

Well, she gets a voice in which chores - she gets a voice in entertainment, she gets a voice in menu options (within limits) she gets a voice in clothes she wears and buys (again within reason)

My job is to send her into the world able to make such choices and bigger ones .... she she needs to learn now how to manage her time, even if that mean she miss-manages it a few times ....

She does attend Hebrew school, but there will come a day that religion will also be hers to choose, or not. She doesn't yet know enough to make an informed choice, so I make the one I feel is best

How it will all work out is anyones guess, I will update you when she is grown and on her own :)

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