Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Decisions Decisions

“Uncertainty is the only certainty there is, and knowing how to live with insecurity is the only security.” -John Allen Paulos

Parenting (and life for that matter) is filled with difficult decisions, made even more difficult by the fact that they are made on behalf of another person who can't truly make the decision. People (probably more men than women) often like to think of things "discretely", that is in absolute/"yes or no" terms. "I am either happy or I am not. My child is sick or well. That pizza tasted good or bad. Etc., etc."

In actuality, almost everthing in life occurs on a continuum. On a 0-10 scale where 0 is worst and 10 is best, if you rated your happiness today as a "9" and yesterday an "8", then you were happy both days, but you are happier today. By extension, the decisions we must make as parents don't fit into categories of "good" and "bad." Every decision is a balancing act between risks and benefits. And as the quote above suggests, there is no "right answer."

Recently, I've had several situations that exemplify this paradox:
1. We recently changed daycare arrangements for the days that Busy-Mom-E works (outside the home--both of us work hard every (moment of every) day--not going to start that dicussion, as avid readers of this blog already know my position here). We no longer felt comfortable leaving them with the (previous) nanny. Potential benefits: the boys will have more fun and more opportunities, be better cared for, Busy-Mom-E and Dad-E will be more "at ease", etc. Potential risk: maybe despite our "research" and "gut feelings", the boys don't adjust well, it's not a good fit, etc.

2. Busy-Dad-E's grandfather recently had some heart trouble. our family is faced with the decision of starting medication "X". Medication "X" significantly lowers the risk of bad event/death from condition "Y", but increases the risk of bad event/death from condition "Z". Condition "Z" is probably less likely than condition "Y", but it could still happen. Should he get medication "X"?

You see where I'm going here.

And so, there's no "right answer", but what do we do in these situations? Fear and insecurity? Bury your head in the sand? Flip a coin? I would argue that the answer is to TALK and PRAY as a FAMILY. I mean really talk, not the "Busy-Dad-E is blogging right now"/facebook status update kind of talk. Technology such as email, Blackberry, IM, Facebook etc., has given us this tremendous capacity to reach anyone in an instant, but the price is that we've forgotten how to communicate. Really sit down face-to-face with your spouse or significant other, and your children (if they're old enough), and discuss the risks and benefits of these decisions. Pray about them. God is always testing us, but these "tests" or "bumps in the road" encourage our faith, strengthen our families, and strengthen our relationship with Him. And in the end, do what you decide together is best, and act out of love for your family. That's all we can do, but it allows you to leave regret at the door.

And so, I leave you with the following quote from AA Milne:
“Promise me you'll always remember: You're braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. (Christopher Robin to Pooh)”

Happy "over-the-hump" day,

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  1. I really enjoyed this. So many things in life follow this whole benefits vs risk dilemma and all we can do is choose the best option in our eyes. Here's to hopefully always picking the "best" option!