Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Too many freedoms?

So last night Anna was refusing to put on the pjs that I had picked out for her to wear to bed. What's a mother to do? Well, I'll tell you what I did. I told her that it was mommy's choice tonight and that these are the pjs I have for her to wear. That was that. She wasn't too happy about it, but she did finally put them on. As she was putting them on, my husband said "Anna, tomorrow night you can pick out your own pjs to wear." Um, what?! After Anna was in bed I shared with Mark about Anna being too wise in her own eyes and having too many freedoms. How do you know if your child has too many freedoms? When they throw a fit over something you decide for them. The example the Ezzo's gave in the GKGW series is tomorrow morning, make breakfast for your kids and just set it out on the table without asking them what they want or making them what you know they love. Do they end up complaining about what you served? Did they whine about wanting something different to eat? If so, then they have too many freedoms! If your child can handle you making decisions for them (after all we are the parent, right?!) without throwing a fit, or complaining, or whining about it, then they are showing they can have the freedom with that decision to make for themselves. Does that make sense?

Another tell tail sign your child has too many freedoms is when they do something, say like going outside, do they ask your first or do they just tell you they are going outside? Or even worse just go outside without even you knowing it?! I'll hopefully post more on that later -- but stop and listen to how your children talk to you throughout the day. Are they asking you or telling you things they would like to do?

So back to the story of Anna. Instead of letting her pick out her pjs tonight, I told her that because of her attitude of mommy picking them out, that I will continue to pick them out for the next three nights. Then we can see if she has the freedom to choose her pjs once in awhile.

Why bother, you may ask. Isn't it just pjs? Don't forgot to view parenting from the BIG picture. A small situation today can turn into a BIG problem in the future.

Is your child wise in their own eyes? Do they have too many freedoms?


  1. Wouldn't restricting child's freedoms cause undesirable long-term side effects (ex. anxiety and depression; super-dependability on others)?

    Psychology Today: "The decline in children's freedom is a serious social issue. It is responsible, I think, for the dramatic increases in childhood depression and suicide. People of all ages crave freedom, and they suffer when their freedom is taken away. As a society we have come to understand this principal as applied to adults, but we put our heads in the sand rather than face the evidence that children too crave freedom and need it in order to feel happy and to grow in healthy ways"

    What do you think?

  2. actually the opposite is true. For a child who has too many freedoms that they are not able to handle (um, do you let your 2 year old drive your car?), you are creating a safe environment for them. If children are left to complete freedom they will act up and misbehave. Children need and want boundaries. It makes them feel safe. I'm not saying to completely restrict children's freedoms. Choice is good for children. It teaches them responsibility and accountability. I'm saying that freedoms need to be restricted if a child is unable to handle them. Either by throwing a temper tantrum for a 2 year old or a teenager who stays past crew. Give a child as much responsibility/choice/freedom as they are to handle. Too much freedom that they aren't able to handle and you'll cause worse issues than anxiety, dreppression and self dependability on others... Does that help clarify?

  3. Thank you for your response. I agree that as parents we need to make sure we don't let kids just do whatever they want. They need to have age appropriate boundaries. Like you said, you don't want a 2 year old (or 4 or 6 or even 12 year old) driving a car, because it's dangerous. Also you don't let your young child to cross the road or go to the park by himself. That's common sense.
    However in cases like not letting a toddler to decide what to wear or when to eat or what toys to play, isn't it taking it too far?
    Around 2 years of age kids start to realize that they are a "separate" person from their mother. Intellectually they are ahead of their physical abilities, they know what they want, but they are restricted by their abilities and environment (as parents we still make most of the decisions for them - when and where to go out, when and what to do during the day, etc) They also cannot communicate (talk) very well yet. Thus the tantrums.
    I think there is a big difference between a 2-year old tantrum and a teenager who stays past crew.
    Even as an adult, don't you sometimes feel like throwing a tantrum when you feel too restricted in your choices? I sure do.
    Say you moved to a new country and in your home country you were a surgeon. You are very intelligent and know a lot, but you don't speak the language and since you are an immigrant people don't think you know much and they "tell you what you know" They don't let you move at your own pace because they think you cannot handle it. Wouldn't it make you incredibly frustrated and eventually (if that goes on for too long) depressed? Wouldn't you start doubt yourself and eventually accept other people view of you and conform to it?
    Sorry about the long post. :)

  4. I feel when your 3 year old is throwing a fit over the pjs you picked out for her to wear, the last thing a parent should do is give in and let her go and pick her own pjs then. Everything we do teaches our children something -- in this case throw a fit and I get my choice of what I wanted... By teaching her to accept my choices once in awhile on smaller things, like pj selection or what we're eating for dinner or what color cup I give her, I'm able to teach her that I, as the mother and parent, can make choices for her that she will just have to accept. But by not teaching her now that once in awhile I get to make those smaller choices for her, it will make those bigger choices harder for her to except since all her life she was use to making all her own smaller choices...does that make sense?

    Please understand I give my children plenty of choices and freedoms that they are able to handle. And yes I agree that if one were to completely remove ALL choice and freedom that would it cause physiological issues.

    I can appreciate your comment about moving to a new country - but I think that's where trust comes into play. You have to prove that you are able to handle the choices and decisions so people can trust you and allow you to continue to make more choices. Also having a strong self esteem and self worth would prevent one from doubting themselves and accepting other people views.

  5. thanks for the dialogue - I appreciate it! Hope to hear more from you!! ;-)

  6. Thank you for being open to the difference of opinion! That's very rare especially when people talk about parenting styles :)

    Your later explanation makes perfect sense and I find myself agreeing with the most of it. I also think it's quite reasonable to expect a child accept some of the choices you make for him/her as long as you give them plenty of choice the rest of the time. I do that too with my kids, even though I don't practice Ezzo style of parenting.

    I guess my earlier reaction to your original post was caused by me knowing some very strict Christian families where the parents take all the authority and try and make kids into little robots, who do whatever their parents tell them to do. My husband teaches music to a few of those kids and it is so sad to see no sparkle in their eyes. Yes, they are very obedient and listen very well and very well behaved, but it's like all of their own personality was "spanked out" of them. When they are done their lesson and wait for their parents they just stand there, no eye contact, very quiet, just waiting...

    My first son was (and still is) very strong-willed and we were trying to "break" him a bit during his toddler years because we thought that was what we were supposed to do. He wouldn't let us :) and we accepted him they way God made him. We had to learn how to communicate with him and make him listen to us without "breaking" his will. He is the most loving and caring and well-mannered and well-behaved little boy now.
    Our second son is much more mild mannered, much easier to get to do what we want him too. However, we are trying to encourage him to express himself, just because it would be so much easier to "break" him and make him comply to our will... but then he'd lose his personality...We want him to grow up very confident and know his mind.

    Thank you for inviting dialogue. You are a very wise mother a person :)

  7. It's sad that some people have taken Ezzo's parenting too far - that's not how it is intended to be. That is not how God intends it to be. But I think that is with anything that parents do to an extreme and don't use Godly wisdom to help them determine what is best for their children. I know some kids that are just flat out brats because their parents don't have any control over them and they get to do whatever they want whenever they want. There has to be a balance. ;-)

    I hear you on the strong-willed child! I have one, too, but it happens to be my younger child - the three year old in the above story. I read this awesome book called "Setting Limits with your Strong Willed Child: Eliminating Conflict by Establishing CLEAR, firm, and Respectful Boundaries" by Robert MacKenzie and I loved how the first few chapters really helped you understand how your strong willed child thinks and processes things. It really helped me not get so frustrated over her constant testing. And just so you know, setting limits in this book does not at all refer to taking away freedoms or choices. Kids need boundaries and especially for the strong willed child, they need those boundaries to help them feel secure so they don't have to always be testing.

    Prayers as you continue your parenting journey! And thank you for your kind words! I read a lot of parenting books and can't say I practice solely one method over another. But can say I have appreciated the Ezzo's presentations on parenting and have included some of their teaching. I especially like their teaching on non-conflict training, which is something I try to regularly do with my kids.

  8. Good to see you back! I can't believe I didn't notice earlier than today...I enjoyed the dialogue.

  9. thanks Erin -- I'll see how much I keep up with it this time -- kinda go in spurts here!