Tradition One is teaching me how to make decisions. I grew up in a family where the adults made all the decisions. I did not feel like I had a voice or that I was important. Regarding my own children, I often have made unilateral decisions. Sometimes this is necessary for their safety. However, if I am honest, I could certainly allow them to participate in some decision-making and acknowledge their opinions.
I had an opportunity to put this into practice when we decided to plan a family vacation. In the past, I told the children where we would go and what we would do. Even though I made plans considering what I thought they would enjoy, I realized that this did not give them the feeling that they had a voice. This time we discussed what each of us would like in terms of a vacation. Of course, as the adult, it was my job to include our available time and budget in the planning. One of my daughters asked if we could include a visit to a park with a freshwater spring that she had studied in school. The other children had no particular desire to go there, but they were willing because it was so important to their sister.
By working together, we were able to take a vacation that we all enjoyed, and my daughter’s suggestion was one of the highlights! It has become a favorite memory for me. My daughter loved the park, but even more importantly, she said she was glad that we went with her suggestion and proud that she had made a real contribution to our family vacation. My other children learned a valuable lesson about being open and supportive, and I learned a tremendous lesson as well. When I give my children the message that they are important, valuable, and respected, the entire family benefits.
Reprinted from S-Anon Twelve Traditions, page 8.