Friday, May 8, 2015

An Open Letter to My Children: the Responsibility of Choice

My darlings, 

There are so many things I want you to understand in life, so many things I hope and try - try every single day - to teach you about life and living well. One of these things weighs heavily on my heart and mind today: the responsibility of choice. Please, don’t choose to see choice as a right, but rather as the responsibility it truly is. You will hear a lot of propaganda on “the right to choose,” regardless of the argument at hand. And while that propaganda does have a point: our opinions and choices belong to each of us and need to be our own as opposed to giving another person the power of your choice; there is fault in seeing this choice as an entitlement. Behaving as though you have the right to choose often leads to self-righteous decisions that pose a detriment to yourself and others. 

You see, as you go through life, you will be confronted with many opportunities in which you have the responsibility to make a choice. Sometimes, it will be as simple as choosing between fresh fruit or french fries as your side for lunch. Other times, the choice you are confronted with will hold a larger impact, such as how you treat another person, wether you take that sip of alcohol offered to you at a gathering with friends, or if you decide to take a relationship to a sexual level. With each of these circumstances, and many others throughout your life, you don’t get to make a choice, you have to make a choice. While I have hopes of the choices you will make - especially in the potentially life-changing situations - more importantly, I want you to choose responsibly. Make forward-thinking choices. Understand the potential results of each choice and consider those results before coming to a determination. And please know that I will always be available for you to discuss the situation, and I will do my best to help you come to a decision - your own decision - as opposed to infringing mine upon you.

I also understand there are a lot of external factors that will weigh into your decision. (My fingers are crossed that at least some of these factors will be the parental guidance you’ve received throughout your life up until this point of choice confrontation.) Regardless of which choice you make, also understand there will be consequences. Even if you make the “right” choice - or rather the better choice - such as choosing to not get into a car of friends when the driver has been drinking - there will be consequences. These are consequences that you will need to face, and while I’ll be by your side through whatever the consequence, these are still your consequences and the result of decisions you have made. Many choices result in consequences that will affect not only you, but others as well. These may be people you love, and some you dis-like (and that’s OK too), but they are all people and deserve to be treated with kindness. Regardless of the situation at hand, you always have the option to be kind in your choice. And I want to stress, being kind does not mean neglecting your opinion and delegating your choice to someone else’s wishes. Being kind means: do not be vindictive in your choice, intentionally hurtful in your choice, or - even worse - hateful in your choice. Every situation, even those of utmost difficulty, can be handled with firm, but gentle kindness.

I also acknowledge the fact that you are human and you will make mistakes. You may make a bad decision and you may face consequences that seem insurmountable at the time. And while I may not like or agree with a choice you have made, I will always love you and will do everything I can to help guide you through those consequences. While the consequences are yours, you will never be alone. 

Occasionally, you may find yourself in a detrimental situation that is the result of someone else’s choice. It may be unfair, but it is a part of life. Everything happens for a reason, and sometimes those reasons are because evil and meanness exist in this world. It is your responsibility to choose how you react to those situations. These choices theoretically have the power to perpetuate evil or dispel it. Choose wisely. Choose responsibly. 

All my love and understanding, 


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