Change, Choice, and Ownership

Throughout this blog and website, and in the Parenting Without Stress and Discipline Without Stress books, you’ll find much written about the importance of offering choices to young people. Why? Because offering choices eliminates coercion simply and easily. By implementing this one practice, you will enable your children to make wiser decisions, become more responsible, increase their cooperation, reduce stress on all concerned, and increase your joy of parenting.

Chances are that you would like to bring about some change(s) in your family dynamics. Two requirements are necessary for change. The first is the awareness that a change is necessary. The second is ownership. Choice brings ownership because people do not argue with their own choices. Lasting change only occurs if the person owns the change.

A discussion of choice would not be complete without mentioning the trap parents can easily fall into of thinking that if choices are given, parental power is compromised. This is a false assumption.

A common and erroneous approach is to think in terms of one or the other, “this” or “that.” Such thinking can lead to power and ego struggles. The reality is that a third alternative is almost always available. When the parties first share their desires and then agree to try to satisfy all parties, the situation becomes transformative because no one loses and everyone wins.

So if you haven’t tried offering your children choices yet, give it a shot. You will find that such situations result in positive and empowering feelings for all involved.