By Brooke Blanchard
There are two groups of people: those who thrive on having a lot of options and those who absolutely do not. The former include people who enjoy comparing and contrasting a manifold array of possibilities when it comes to making a decision. These individuals most likely did very well on their SATs. The latter group, in which I include myself, can become quickly overwhelmed and insecure when presented with more than just a handful of options. Second-guessing and anxiety go into overdrive as we panic over having to make a decision that we tell ourselves is of life-altering importance. We don’t just put the cart before the horse. We run in circles, with our arms flailing, around the unhitched cart and horse in a futile exercise of wasted physical and emotional energy.
All this to say, when it comes to making choices for our young children, the amount of directions, options and methods we base our decisions on can be overwhelming. What age should I start pre-school? How many days should they go? Should they be in a structured setting or play-based? Fine arts or dual-language? Ballet or soccer? And so on and so on. Sometimes, the answer is made for us due to scheduling or financial limitations, but even then, second guessing can simmer beneath the surface. Am I making the right decision? What if I make the wrong decision?
For most of us, the “right” decision is the one that we think will be best for our children’s development. It is the path that will give them all the best tools in their tool belt to build healthy, happy, and successful lives. However, life is not a SAT test. There isn’t actually one right answer. This reality can feel both infuriatingly vague and mercifully relieving. It means that you will be confronted with an overabundance of options for each decision you need to make for your child. However, it also means that whatever you ultimately decide will likely support and nurture your child in a way that will help them further down the road.
There is a lot of anxiety and fatalism out there in the world right now. It can feel hard not to let it seep into our daily lives and decision-making. However, when it comes to making big little decisions or little big decisions for our families, our perspective can be a positive one. The abundance of options in front of us can be viewed as an abundance of opportunities. In this sense, any choice that you make will ultimately give your child something valuable rather than deprive them of something missed out on. In the words of Nelson Mandela, “may your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears.”