Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Free to Choose

Several months ago, I attended a class at a Women's Conference called, "Raising Independent Kids." The instructor, a licensed family therapist, taught us that our children need to be allowed choices. One specific suggestion was to allow them control over a space in the house that could be designated as their domain. She even suggested that if we had an issue with a messy bedroom, we should simply shut the door.

I struggled with this concept and expressed to the instructor that I view the entire house as my domain. The way I see it, the children occupy a portion of that domain but should adhere to my standards of how it should be kept. The therapist was quick to point out the flaws of my philosophy. I've thought of her advice many times since that class.

I'm in no way a clean freak, but I'm often frustrated by the chaos that exists in my daughters' bedroom. Perhaps even more annoying are situations like this:

Caleb still refuses to use this laundry basket as it should be used. (Those clothes are on top of the basket's lid.)

Or what about this one:

Alyssa's medals are nicely displayed on her wall but she feels the need to tape posters around them, not even worrying about if they are straight!

This clutter on her nightstand drives me bonkers:

Though I'll let them go as long as I can, the posters will eventually come down, the clothes will go inside the basket and the clutter on the nightstand will be straightened. I'm often reminded of that therapist's advice, however, and do try to allow the kids a bit of dominion over that which I desperately want to control.

Natalie and I went to the mall yesterday to buy some much needed jeans for her brother. Since the jeans were such a good price, I picked up a pair for Alyssa too. Unfortunately, there weren't any in Nat's size. I don't at all subscribe to the notion that if one child gets something they all need to get something, but on this particular occasion, I did promise Natalie she could pick an outfit. After rejecting her selections mulitiple times, I suggested a cute outfit that was available in six different colors. I wandered over a few rounders, offering other suggestions as I went.

"I know what I want," she declared.

Of all the cute choices, she opted for this:

I thought of that class. I remembered the therapist's advice to allow our kids their own choices. I never want my kids to feel that they have to like what I like. But, of the options available, it was without question the last on my list.

"Are you sure you don't like the pink?"

"The red is nice."

"The purple is really pretty."

"It's definitely not my favorite."

It was no use. She was sold on the Kermit-the-Frog-green. I knew I had to honor her choice no matter how much I disliked it. So, we bought it. And she's been wearing the ensemble ever since.
Perhaps the pictures don't adequately capture the brightness of this hue. She glows.

"Whoa! What's with the green?" was Alyssa's reaction at seeing the new outfit.

"You're bright today!" was the comment from our gymnastics carpooling friend.

I don't like the color. Not one bit. I find myself cursing that therapist for teaching me that I have to allow my kids control.

I do believe she's right, though. And I do want independent kids. Even if they look like Kermit the Frog.


SuburbiaMom said...

At least she picked a color that looks good on her :). It's a hard thing, huh....

Erin said...

Hilarious! I'm really not surprised given the peace-sign shirt she picked out while I was there. And, you're right, the color doesn't show up in the pictures because I think it actually rather cute. This entire story is just SO Natty!

KmCaCFamilyof5 said...

Ava's response to these pictures: "I wish I had all green clothes like Natalie" Maybe it's a 4 year old thing :)

Jen said...

Just wait until they are teenagers. You'll be glad that you're working on this now:) Nat is adorable in any hue!

Camille said...

I love it. Natalie could get away wearing anything though. She's adorable. I love her little pose in that first picture. It's classic, you can tell she LOVES her new outfit.

That advice is always in the back of my head too. Linsey's room is just the same as Alyssa's. Random posters that aren't straight and the nightstand clutter, oh well. I'm like you, it's a struggle to let it go but her advice made so much sense and like you, I do agree with her so I'm trying.

Lucy said...

She totally rocks the green outfit! Anyone as cute as her needs to be noticed:)

I have my own control issues, believe me. Thanks for the reminder. I need to stop being such a nag about their rooms.

Mom said...

I vividly remember being told, "If you don't like how my room looks, shut the door." by someone who lives at your house some 20+ years ago.

I think the green is adorable...could it be my Irish blood and the fact that it's March.

Good luck. (If they are anything like you, you'll get a total reversal of the mess and clutter in a few years.)

Chad said...

I think the green is great! Allowing choice can be tough though.

Amy Jones said...


Man, it sure is tough when other people just don't want to do things our way. (And I'm not being sarcastic...I genuinely mean that.)

Funny thing, though, Lindy has a very similar bright purple outfit. WHOA!

Jenny said...

I have major issues in the control department but my love and logic book often brings me down from reality. I acutally think her green outfil is darling!

Tammy said...

I was in the class, too, and I'm still having a tough time with leaving the kids' rooms alone. (Although I'm doing better about not feeling guilty about it when they ARE messy--I have to remind myself that it's THEIR mess--not MINE! About once every week or two, I can't stand it anymore and insist that they clean it so it's "mom clean."

I've gone through the same thing with Rachel this year as you did with Natalie. She now likes to wear green, yellow, and orange. . . All colors that are never present in my closet, but I have to admit, look good on her. :) It's amazing how much we can grow when we give up control! (Although it's NOT easy!)

Jackie said...

Oh my gosh, I could just transfer your blog to mine. You said it all perfectly. I feel the same way. Sienna just picked out an all green outfit the other day as well. I think it's the same green. Children's place?