I do not believe that parents should be making important decisions for their teenagers; I think they should be making them together.
Something that breaks my heart is when I hear someone tell me that their parent picked out their college or made other important decisions for them in their lives. I have a friend that is attending a college that does not have the major that she wants to pursue because her parents forced her to go there and did not listen to her opinion.
In my mind, these years are some of the most important in one’s life. What occurs in someone’s teenage years can impact the way they view the world and the way they interact with others for a lot of their life. I do not understand why big decisions are not a conversation.
The first time I experienced this debate was in a Biology of Women class a year and a half ago. We were learning about a vaccine that prevents against multiple strains of cancer-causing viruses. The only “problem” is it prevented against a cancer-causing virus that resulted from an STI.
This vaccine is to be given to children around the age of 12 and many parents refused to give it to their children because they had felt that it encouraged their children to have sex at a young age.
Personally, I feel that this is not the message being sent, but that is for an opinion piece in the future. I want to focus on the fact that the parents are making a decision to not protect their children from a deadly virus. They are making a decision for them.
I think there are multiple ways around this situation. One of them being the parent does not have to tell the child that it protects against a deadly STI, but that it protects against cancer. This is what my mom did for me, and I recently realized this when I asked my doctor if I had received the vaccine and then asked my mother what she had told me when I received it.
My mother included me in the conversation and although she did censor some of the material because I was young, she made sure that I understood why I was receiving the vaccine. She let me make my own decision.
I think that this and many other issues such as choosing a college for one’s child can greatly impact the individual’s life. Instead of having a conversation on possible careers, the likelihood of finding a job in that field, and the benefits of being close to home, some parents tell their children that they need to go to the local community, state or private college.
Instead of allowing an individual to make a decision that will greatly impact their future, they are making a decision that can possibly limit their child’s future. In both of these scenarios if a parent makes one of these major decisions for their child, they may limit their child’s potential.
In the first scenario, if a parent were to pick a college for a child and send them there, it could limit their choice of majors and it could limit the opportunities they might find. They may end up in a career field that they did not choose or want, and resent their parents for making these important decisions for them.
This issue also works the other way around. If the child were to make the entire decision on their own without discussing the pros and cons with their parents they could end up too far away for their liking and many other problems could arise.
As for the HPV scenario, if the child were to get a case of HPV without knowing, as it can sometimes be hard to detect, and a parent had made the decision not to give them the vaccine, they could get cancer at an early age. It could impact their career, family life, and their abilities in the future.
Again, it works the other way around in this scenario, as well. If the child were to learn that they had been given this shot without their full knowledge or consent, it could lead to a lot of resentment and distrust between them and the parent, as they may feel the parent did not trust them to make the decision.
The bottom line is, as a parent, one may have to make a lot of important decisions for their child, but once that child has a sense of reasoning and responsibility and is capable of a respectful conversation, I believe that they should be included in some of the many major life decisions that come their way.
We’ve seen the negative impact of making decisions for children and we know that there is a positive impact when we work together. According to kidsmatter.edu, allowing older children to make their own decisions with the help of their parents helps them to learn to think ahead, acknowledge possible consequences and see issues from different angles and perspectives.
It is for these reasons and those listed in the examples above, that I believe that both parties, the parents and the children, should be open-minded and allow for a conversation to take place.