Gradually, the arguing and complaining lessened. (It never stops completely, but I can’t even say that about myself.) And she simply accepted not having choices as a regular part of life. In fact, I’d say it was a relief for her.

Now, that doesn’t mean we don’t give her any choices. After she settled into the pattern of just accepting what’s given, we sometimes do allow her an occasional pizza-or-hamburgers type dinner. But these are the exception.

Why It Matters

Decision-making is, more often than not, a moral issue, especially for young children. Letting them have such power means that you’re letting go of some of your authority. Sure, it may seem innocent. But over time, with decision after decision, you’ve ceded all kinds of ground.

And let’s be blunt: young kids aren’t ready for that sort of responsibility. It puffs them up like Veruca Salt in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. They don’t know how to handle authority yet. They need you to show them how to be wise first.

So, don’t feel “uncool” if you set Caleb’s schedule, pick the book, and give him no say in lunch. Instead, realize that you’re establishing a godly foundation that he can build on. When he’s proven that he respects your authority to make decisions for him (Ephesians 6), then he can gradually enjoy more freedom to decide on his own.

And you’ll stay sane… well, saner.

John UpChurch is the Senior Editor for

Publication date: February 1, 2013