For Satis: Parenthood and the Wisdom of Maturity When Making a Choice
This is in response to a comment on my post “The Only Choice You’ll Ever Make” from yesterday. You might want to read that one first.
Oh, you make it sound so easy! What to do when both choices appear equally wrong? What to do when you are blind to the alternatives? I still wonder at this sometimes, and at the wisdom of maturity. Doesn’t a child do what they feel is right without thinking? What makes right in the first place?
I’m sorry…your words are true, they most certainly are. It’s a standard I try to live to each day, though mostly I don’t quite make it.
It is simple, but definitely not easy until you have a “breakthrough moment” and really understand the process. It’s like riding a bike – one moment, you can’t balance, the next moment, you can. No one can describe to you exactly how to get there mentally, but they can run alongside you until you get the idea. This is a parent’s job.
If only all parents did this! So many feel that they have to sanitize the experience, make it artificial, or worse, make the choice for them so that they don’t ever feel the pain of making a mistake. This is especially hard, but it’s part of our choices as adults too. Mistakes are opportunities to learn… and often the only way to do so. So, “bad” is very much a relative term.
As for alternatives, you make choices based on what information you have right now. Potentials re interesting and certainly there is a time for research and preparation. But at some point we have to say we have enough information and just make a choice. Soemtimes there isn’t a clear choice. Sometimes the choice is not to act. Before the choice is made, it is difficult to see.
As an experiment, think of a choice you have before you. Make up your mind to go a certain way and allow your mind to trace it all the way to “worst case scenario”. How bad would it be? Is there any good in it? When you look back on the moment when you made the choice, does it seem like there is truly a “right” or “wrong” at all? Or are you just doing the best you can at any given moment, and willing to accept the consequences, good or bad?
Our self-judgement and doubt gets in the way of seeing our role in the process clearly. This is why choices become confusing. But are they easy? Not until you really, truly understand this from the other side.
“Right” is what you determine based on your prior experience, and that’s all. The right choice for a child is often different than the one for an adult in a similar circumstance. It’s about what’s appropriate for the time, the place and the person.
So my daughter’s attempts to avoid the pain of being afraid of the dark naturally brought her to a place where she would make the dark and the fear go away at once, by turning on her Nintendo DS. The reality of being tired all day tomorrow is too conceptual for her. Later on, when she’s older, her experiences will lead her to other choices.
Don’t mistake maturity for something that is exclusive to the realm of adults. It’s about experience and attitude more than anything else. There are ten-year-olds who have had richer life experiences (often associated with intense pain) that have matured them far beyond what their adult parents have ever, or will ever achieve. These “old souls”, as they are sometimes called, are mature because at some point they were required to be. They don’t have to fight decades of habit like the adults, who may never grow out of the inability to act in their own favor. They accelerated beyond their limitations to become mature, without losing their childish nature. Because, when it comes right down to it, they are still children.
I’ll leave you with a question: What is the true difference between a child’s choice and an adult’s? Is there any person who is truly wise, without also being naive in some way? How do we nurture both sides of the equation to develop into well-balanced human beings?