Here, honey, choose...Which do you like better? It's up to you.
I am pleased to hear a parent giving her child the choice. Making choices is an important part in the development of self-confidence. I smile at the pair. The daughter selects the white sandals. The mother tells me to get the purple. The child's soft brown eyes drop to the floor in accustomed defeat. I watch her, this little girl. I know what's going through her mind. I see it. I feel it. A faux smile replaces my previous genuine one as I go to do the mother's bidding. Half heartedly the girl tries on the purple slip ons. I try different sizes to find the right fit, all the while noticing her eyes drifting towards the white sandals.
The woman decides to let her try on the white sandals. The girl's eyes light up. She puts on the shoes, smiling now. She looks in the mirror, this way and that, with her hands on her hips. She bites her lower lip thoughtfully as if deciding which outfits would best match these precious shoes. I can see her mind whirling.
I want these ones
No, I don't like those. I'll buy you the purple or nothing. Your choice.
TWICE! Twice, I watch this child have her hopes dashed by her mother. I bite my tongue, avert my gaze, anger simmering at the surface. She takes the purple, slowly leaving my department with her head hanging down, chin pressed to chest, wiping silent tears of defeat.
I will tell you what she learned this day.
- She learned that what she wanted didn't matter.
- She learned that her mother didn't trust her to make good choices.
- She learned that she couldn't trust what her mother said to her
- Choice matters. A child develops more self-confidence with each choice made. A parent can decide which things a child may choose from, but the child should be given final say. It will help them grow into confident adults.
- Once a parent gives the child a choice, it should not be taken back. Give them the choice or don't. Don't do it halfway, otherwise it becomes a betrayal of trust.
- A parent should not allow the child to hope for what she can't have.
This parent had no intention of letting her daughter have the shoes she wanted, not for an instant. Not everyone agrees with me that children should be given many choices. That is fine. She should not have said it. She should not have lied. What angered me was the pretense, the emotional slap to her daughter,twice. What bothered me was that the mother didn't even notice her daughter's self-esteem lessen one pair of white sandal's worth.