Parenting – A Gradual Transfer of Power

The doctor presents your naked, screaming, writhing infant to you and says, “Congratulations, it’s a girl!” You have just become a parent. Now what? What are we supposed to do? How long does this last? The simple answer to your questions is that your main job is to take all the power you have and slowly transfer it over to your child and that it’s going to take you the rest of your life. Your newborn cannot do anything for herself. She is completely reliant on you to fulfill all her needs. However, there are many things a four-year-old can do for herself. You don’t have to change a four-year-old. She should be able to use the bathroom on her own. You transfer that power, the power over her bladder and bowels, over to her as appropriate. A six-year-old deserves to have the power to dress herself and you should give it to her by teaching her how to get dressed. An eight-year-old can make herself a sandwich and should be given that power. A 12-year-old should be given the power over her own interests and she should be allowed to choose some hobbies or activities. Here’s where it gets confusing. At what age do we let a child decide she will begin dating? At what age do we let a child have the power over where they will go and with whom? At what age do we offer up control of the family vehicle to the child? When is it appropriate to allow a child power over her money? At what age should we transfer a child’s reproductive power over to her? How old should she be before we allow her to live independently? There are no real right or wrong answers to those questions. The universal truth remains that you must eventually transfer every last one of those decisions over to the child, whether you like it or not. Why? Because, ultimately, your child will probably have almost complete control over you, perhaps making life and death decisions for you when you are no longer able to do so. She better have some practice making hard decisions before that day, don’t you think? If we shelter children from making any decisions, with the idea that we know what’s best for them, we deprive them of valuable learning experiences. They must get many opportunities to have and use power while they are still under your supervision. It’s much more dangerous to withhold all power from them until they are 18 and then suddenly dump it all on them. They won’t know what to do with it. They won’t have had any experience with it. They will misuse it and hurt themselves which is what they would have done with it if you let them have it sooner, the only difference is that they are now older and the consequences might be more severe. Do your kids and yourself a favor and slowly and steadily transfer your power over them until one day, they essentially have it all and will know how to use it wisely.

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