They are our god given right. We all have the opportunity to make thousands of our own choices every day. Are they all choices of good and evil? No. In fact most of the choices we make are not black or white...they are no color at all. Choices can be as simple as what we are going to eat for breakfast or what toothpaste we are going to buy.
Some of the choices we make are more important. One example might be looking both ways when we cross the street, another might be wearing our seat belt.
As a mother of 3 children with diabetes, I make hundreds of choices for my boys on a daily basis. I know what the healthy/smarter decisions are. I tell them what snacks to eat...I tell them if they can or they can't. I tell them how many carbs to give. I'm REALLY good at making choices for them. So good that I'm afraid I'm not letting them feel the power of making good choices for themselves.
I had the opportunity tonight to listen to a few amazing woman, and during the conference this epiphany came very clearly:
My greatest job isn't to make all the choices for my boys. My greatest job is teaching them that making good choices will bring them good health and happiness now, and down the road. It is my job to teach them how to do that.
Instead of me telling them what healthy snack to eat after school, I should let them choose, and then talk to them about it. Explain the glycemic index. Explain why one snack would be better than the other. They are old enough now that I should be guiding them...not controlling or smothering them. They need their mother to give them enough room to make mistakes. Because we learn from our mistakes.
I need to be strong enough to watch them make choices that I wouldn't. I need to be brave enough to let them fly. It is so easy for me to say, "Don't look over there! Those choices will hurt you! You only have ONE good choice and it is here...the others aren't even an option!"
But in the real world it doesn't work that way, and my shielding them from things isn't the best training for the rest of their life.
All I can do is talk to them...be brutally honest with them...teach them...and trust them that they will make choices that will end up being responsible ones.
Like bolusing before they eat.
Like putting strips into their backpack before school.
Like picking the right snack for a 50, a 60 or a 70.
Like eating one cupcake and not two.
Like listening to the alarms on their pumps.
Like rechecking their sugars 15 minutes after treating a low, to make sure all is well.
I can do all of this FOR them...but it is better to guide them. To encourage them. To find ways to help them remember, and help them understand that I'm not going to be there to make these choices for them forever.
My first instinct is to protect them and keep them safe. That is my job for sure. But I need to start giving them more power in their choices.
Because once they start making good choices on their own, I'll be more inclined to reward them with things like freedom...
And isn't that every child's ultimate goal? Freedom to go to their friends without mom calling every 10 minutes. Freedom to go on a field trip without mom sitting next to them the whole time. Freedom to...I don't know...leave for college????
If I make all the choices for them then they will not learn anything. I'm going to do it all in baby steps, in things related to diabetes and things that are not. Somehow I got J to be independent in his diabetes...so I know I CAN let them take over.
Sometimes though...for me, it really needs to be a conscious decision.
And right now I'm choosing to let them choose more often. (Not completely though...I'm not mental!)
(This wraps up day 18 in a fancy bow. I'm blogging every day this month for National Health Blog Posting Month in honor of Diabetes Awareness Month. Bless you for putting up with me!)