You Don’t Know That

The conversation goes something like this …

Melissa says, “Dad, tomorrow I want to go on a picnic with my friends.”

I’ve just finished watching the evening news and weather report. They said that it is going to rain all day tomorrow. So my response to her is, “the TV just said that it is going to rain tomorrow”.

She instantly replies “you don’t know that.”

Over the past couple of years, this has become the de-facto standard response when Melissa doesn’t like what she is told. Truthfully, I’m not sure if she doesn’t hear me clearly; doesn’t understand what I said; doesn’t like the answer she got; or is simply rebelling.

Regardless of the reason, each time I hear that response it makes me think about how I can best prepare her to make her own decisions. I know they won’t be major decisions—because she will always require some degree of supervision.

But I feel the need to impart my “wisdom” to her. I want to help her learn from my mistakes so she won’t have to make them herself. Through my life experiences,  I really DO know that.

Through my trial-and-error attempts to address this challenge, I have discovered that Melissa can best “relate” to these decision-making situations if she has previously experienced them herself.

So in this case I say, “Melissa, do you remember the last time it was supposed to rain and you went bike riding anyway?” She sheepishly replies yes. Then I ask her to recall what happened.

“I got wet” she said.

Then I offer, “So don’t you think you might get wet again if you go on a picnic when it is supposed to rain?”

This is usually followed by stark silence. I know she is thinking about it. I don’t rush it. I let her be the next to speak.Sometimes there is no response at all … but I later discover that she has cancelled her picnic plans. Other times she will push-back again. “It might not” she would say.

And of course she is right. It might not rain. How many times does your weather forecast actually come true? And if she cancels and it doesn’t rain … then who looks like the fool?

What I’ve learned through this whole interaction is that she actually is right … I don’t KNOW that.

Now each time we have such a discussion and she utters those words to me, I can only chuckle and think to myself—do I or don’t I know that?

How do you help your child in their decision-making challenges?


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