Giving Choices

I had breakfast with a wonderful friend the other day and during the course of our 2 1/2 hour conversation (we should have just stayed for lunch!) we discussed the differences in how we were raised. I won't discuss how she was raised, but I want to discuss how I was raised and how that was instrumental in determining both my confidence as well as my foundation for my beliefs.

Because my mom was a single mom and had to work full time, she didn't have the luxury of playdates and crafts with me. Saturdays were usually spent at my soccer games and cleaning the house since it was the only day we could get it done. Until I was in about 7th grade I went to after school care - first just a regular daycare, and then later a computer learning center where we learned BASIC on Pet computers. You would think that would have led me to be a computer genius, but I was more focused on whatever cute boys were there at that point. After that, I was your garden variety latchkey kid.

I am sure this sounds absolutely depressing to many of you, but I have to say that never in my life did I feel deprived of a milk and cookies mom. I didn't know what I didn't know. Sometimes ignorance is bliss. I was just as independent then as I am now when it comes to making decisions and choices, because my mom's way of raising me fell along the lines of, "You learn to make choices for yourself and make them all along the way, and then you will be able to stand on your own when the hard stuff comes."

And guess what - it was true. I have been able to make my own choices and have had confidence in my ability to make those choices for much of my life. When I decided to move to Northern Virginia, I didn't discuss the pros and cons with my parents. I informed them of my decision. I didn't consult with them about places to live in college or what to major in. I just decided and did it. It's empowering to me to know that not only have I made the choices that got me to where I am now, but I was responsible for those choices as well. If I fell on my face, it was up to me to pick myself back up. I knew they would support me, but they allowed me to have and learn from my own experiences.

I realized that if I want to teach my children anything that sticks in their head, it is the ability to make choices and live with the consequences. That can be learned in any setting, and can be implemented by any parenting situation - traditional or single. Looking back, I imagine that some of my friend's moms were "scared" of the influence I might have on their daughters because I was a daycare/latchkey kid, but that is just a misguided judgment. My mom may not have been able to be there every day after school, but she taught me to stand on my own two feet and provided a framework and boundaries for me. Her parenting style allowed me to figure out who I am by making my own choices, and I honor that.

Just my two cents.