Decisions, Decisions

3:40 PM

You know, as current (or prospective) parents, we are just inundated with decisions to make regarding our families and our children. I'd like to think many of these decisions are brand new and unique to our generation, but truthfully, aside from being arrogant, that would just be false.

According to Solomon, there is nothing new under the sun. Back in the day, the King and his wife(ves) had to make some key decisions regarding their children. Would they go to school down in the village and pick up some bad habits, such as oh, say, idol worship? Or would they be tutored? Do we diaper with papyrus, wool, or crocodile skin?

There are always choices that must be made about the same old things. Some are critical. Others, not so much.

Critical 
What beliefs and values will you follow/adhere to as a family? 
What values do you want to instill in your children? 
How will you discipline your children?
What goals will you set as parents?
Who will raise your children?
How will you spend your time together as a family?
How will you educate your children?

NonCritical
Where will I give birth? Hospital or home?
How long will I breastfeed? 
How many kids do I want?
Will I use disposable diapers or cloth?
Will my kids play soccer or tennis or ballet?
Vegetarian or not?
Backyard chickens or $3/egg carton at Kroger?
Backyard garden or too much work?


The interesting thing is that across the span of time, the answers to the Critical questions have always been and will always be the most important decisions we make as parents.  Yet it's funny how easy it is to put more emphasis on the Non-critical questions. We argue about the choices on the bottom and take strong sides. We spend tons of time worrying about whether we've made the right choices regarding those bottom questions. Ok, so maybe your family doesn't spend that much time on the last two questions....that may just be something I think about...

My point is this: 

Make the top choices first. And make the right top choices. Spend some time, no matter where you are in your parenting spectrum, and make sure you have those things set down. Established. Think about them as a couple and make sure that as parents, you are parenting with purpose...guided by a compass, not just meandering as the wind blows you...because we live in a time of heavy, fluctuating winds. And to allow yourself to be blown willy-nilly by the winds of change may mean you'll find your whole family busted up on some rocks. And that does not have to happen. So be thoughtful and take time to tackle the answers to those critical questions.

And the choices you make next, those non-critical ones, will just be gravy. They'll be the haircuts you wear that indicate your style, your preferences, but they won't be the bones that shape you. The fuel that drives you. 

Having ESTABLISHED that, I want to take a moment to marvel once again at how little things truly change over time...if in fact, there is any change, it's in the variety of our choices. 

For instance:  

My parents had the option to send us kids to school or home-school us.  They chose to send us to private school. That was fine and had no seriously negative implications on us. Interestingly, the home-school options available to them 30+years ago were narrow and unappealing. Now, as I sit here today, once you've made a decision to home-school, there are so many choices out there that it's mind-boggling. You have to take several steps back in order to even see the whole picture in order to even CHOOSE which direction you want to go as far as selecting teaching style and ultimately, curriculum. Wow.

But again, the most important choice isn't what specifically you'll teach, but how you will educate your children.  And in this family: We want to teach our children to love God and to love learning. 

In another direction, there is the disposable/cloth diaper conundrum.

To many, there is no conundrum. It's clear one way or another. For me, it's not really so clear. Now, if you ask my mom about it, she'll shake her head in exasperation and incredulity that anyone would even MESS with cloth diapers. This from a woman who had old-school cloth diapers before disposables were an option. And since then, disposables have come such a long way that they seem like heaven to her. And they can be, truly. But in the last 34 years, the makers of cloth diapers have really been giving some thought to making cloth diapering a good choice and not the hard choice, the granola choice...the hippie's choice. 

And for me, who sits here changing diaper after diaper and who sees the garbage man carting away bag after bag of paper that's gonna rot slowly in some landfill, on top of which I'm paying over and over again to buy those handy diapers....it makes me consider whether cloth diapers aren't a better long-term choice. However, the choices alone in that arena are also incredibly daunting. There are OODLES of cloth diaper choices. OODLES, I tell you. This has not always been the case. And some are really cool! And pretty much like disposable, only you don't throw them away. I have actually been studying a website (allaboutclothdiapers.com) that is like a dissertation on cloth diapers. 

Fortunately, this choice is not a critical one. It's a "gravy" choice. It will further define my preferences, and perhaps label me as even more "granola" than I was previously....but come on...I did have a home birth, I breastfeed till the cows come home, I home-school, I'm part of a veggie co-op and I do know who Ina May Gaskin is...so that ship has already sailed, folks. I hate labels anyway. 

The point is, I feel confident about the critical choices. Can you say the same? If not, get to thinking. There are so many choices we make daily. Make the important ones and then enjoy the fun ones. 

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1 comments

  1. I could not agree more. Well, I am not as granola as you, but - I love that you categorized the choices into critical and non-critical. I feel that people get so wound up about things that do not really matter in the grand scheme of things. I had pretty much this exact conversation with someone this week, so it is nice to see someone else who makes the same distinctions!

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