letting your children make their own decisions

4 Times to Let Your Child Make the Big Decision

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I remember the disappointment of failing my driver’s test on my 16th birthday. I studied hard and did well on the written exam but hit one too many cones in the parking lot. I wasn’t sure if I even wanted to drive. My parents let me think it over, and a few weeks later, I decided to give it another try. I passed, and soon after, my dad handed me the keys to the minivan and asked me to drive to our annual family Christmas party.

The whole extended family was happy to see me behind the wheel for the first time. We snapped a photo to mark the occasion. It made me feel special and confirmed that my decision to get behind the wheel again was the right one. Sometimes, letting our kids make the big decision prepares them to fly on their own. Here are 4 times it’s OK to step back and let your kids make the big decision.

Sometimes, letting our kids make the big decision prepares them to fly on their own.

1. Which Clothes to Wear

This may not seem like a big decision, but what you wear says a lot about your personality and priorities, especially for teens. Plunging necklines and short skirts send a very different message than jeans and t-shirts. For boys, a collared shirt tells a different story than baggy shorts that show off their underwear. As dads, we need to explain the importance of what our kids’ peers will learn about them from their clothing choices. But if they are not making harmful choices, letting them decide what to wear can be a chance for them to be or express themselves.

2. Which Summer Job to Take

I bagged groceries after high school when I was a teen. I remember being offered the chance to switch things up in the summer by taking a camp counselor job. Hanging out with kids at the pool sounded way more fun than putting milk and eggs into plastic bags. The counselor job paid less, but my parents were OK with my choice to swap jobs. They let me pick how to spend my time.

Letting your children make their own decisions about how to make money will teach them a bit of responsibility and self-sufficiency. It will help them better understand what they like and don’t like, too. Make suggestions based on their interests, but let them make the final call. That experience could help them narrow down a field of study in the future.

3. Which College to Attend

Speaking of choosing a field of study, one of the biggest choices a child will make is where to study after high school. There are pros and cons to every option, and your child needs to understand them all. Walk your kids through the choices. They should factor happiness, career goals, and programs offered at each college or university into their decision. This likely will be the first time your kids will live away from you. They need to be confident in their choice.

4. Whether to Attend College at All

That said, college is not for everyone. There are many quality careers that don’t require a degree. If your child feels like forgoing higher education in favor of working sooner is best, ask him or her to explain why. Letting your children make their own decisions about their future teaches them that they have to face the consequences of their actions and take responsibility for them. Think of it this way: If our kids sprout a feather with every big decision we let them make, they’ll be ready to fly smoothly when it’s time to leave the nest.

Sound off: What big decisions have you been reluctant to let your children make themselves?

Huddle up with your kids and ask, “What are some decisions you would like to start making on your own?”