A few days ago I had the most wonderful conversation with my children.
She asked me about the life of a Saint who had an unfortunate life. Her father remarried after her mother died and they never treated her right. As a result, she ran away from home. She asked me why the father would do that to her daughter.
I answered the best way I could.
I told her the father made a decision that his new wife is more important than his daughter. I told her that I think that’s the wrong decision because nothing is more important than your child. In my opinion your spouse is old enough to fend for himself or herself but the child is dependent, completely on the parent.
She asked me, “Why do people make bad decisions sometimes?”
I told her most people don’t think things through before making a decision.
I told her that in every decision we make, you’re giving up something in exchange for your choice. For example, I told her, you decide to study for your exam and in effect, you give up time to watch TV.
She picked it up right away. Her eyes lit up and she said “It’s like when we decide to eat dinner in a restaurant, we give up money in exchange for food!”
My son joined in on our conversation at this point and he said but if we eat at home we’re also spending money. I responded, saying, “But if we eat at home we spend less money than we would at a restaurant.”
I continued: “For example, papa and mama take you to a vacation and we choose to give up money for that. In our opinion, it’s worth it because the memories we make as a family is worth a lot more than the money we’re giving up… it’s no contest. Mama, decided to tutor you both myself and I decided to give up my free time because I feel teaching you is more important.. again, no contest.”
I could have stopped there, but for some reason, I took it a step further.
I told my daughter, some decisions are very small and insignificant that they don’t really have a huge impact on our lives so they don’t require much thought at all…. like choosing which restaurant to eat at or what clothes to wear.
However, some decisions can be life changing and these decisions can create major consequences in our lives. These kinds of decisions require much more thought and can’t be made based purely on emotion like what makes you happy or feels good for the moment.
I told them both that some decisions are not so easy to recover from, or worse, irreversible. Like if you decide to take drugs, you’re giving up a life free from addiction for a moment of feeling good. If they decide to smoke cigarettes they give up healthy lungs. Or if you pick the wrong person to love and you give up your friends and family or a happy family life for that one person.
I told them just to remember that if they make decisions in life, they have to remember they’re giving up something in exchange for that choice. When the time comes that have a major decision to make, they have to weigh it as best they can and determine if what they’re giving up is less important than what they will gain…. or at the very least if the choice they’re making is worth the risk.
My daughter asked me if I made the right decision marrying their dad. I told them, yes. A thousand times, yes. I could never have been 100% sure what the future could bring but at that point in our relationship I saw all the good inside him, I knew that through good and bad times, Papa S was worth the risk and it proved to be a risk well taken.
They were both pensive after our unusually deep discussion. I’m not sure if they understood what I was talking about or whether it would be something they would even remember when the time comes… but I’m so glad I had that talk with them.
That’s all I can do as a parent after all.. plant seeds.