Does it ever happen to you that when life sends you a lesson, you get that same lesson multiple times in multiple situations over a short period of time? I’m pretty sure it happens to everyone, but I know for sure it happens to me. This week’s lesson was this: My children have a right to know what is going to happen when my choices affect them.
This means that when I make a plan to meet a friend for tea on my birthday, I need to let my girls know that we won’t be doing our usual Friday afternoon plans. Because if I don’t tell them, Claire will be enormously angry and upset and confused when we pull into my friend’s driveway. She knows what to expect on various days of the week and having the regular rhythm disrupted without any notice is not OK.
This means that when I make a choice to stop getting milk from our herd share I need to tell the kids too, not just Tom. Because if I don’t tell them Beatrice will be genuinely sad and confused at dinner when she realizes that we haven’t picked up the milk for weeks and won’t be getting it at all anymore.
I hadn’t included the kids in my decision making around those two choices because they were my choices to make, not theirs. But I forgot that even if they aren’t participating in the decision-making process, they do need to be told that I’ve made a decision that will change the way we usually do something. Because expectations that do not match reality lead to suffering, whether you’re 4 or, well, much older than 4.