As we old gits tend to do, my mind recently wandered back some 40 years to my days at Ft Wolters, Texas. One of the finer pieces of wisdom I received there was from the base pediatrician. He wrote a great series of parenting pamphlets, and in one, he addressed the subject of offering choices to our young ones.
His sage wisdom? Limit the choices your child is offered, and once they decide, hold them to it. His logic? If offered unlimited choices, one has great difficulty in evaluating them all to make a sound decision. Further, life will indeed involve limitations at times, and the sooner we learn this, the better we will be able to deal with it.
Thus, he said, rather than asking your offspring the seemingly innocuous question, "What would you like for dinner tonight?", he recommended offering a choice between two selections, one of which would be served to the whole family. Further, he said that such decision making should not be offered every night, but just often enough to involve the child in occasional family decision making.
In broad terms, the good Doc summarized that self discipline cannot be developed when we are allowed to be "children in the candy store with an unlimited allowance". (Credit cards were not in vogue at the time). And, he continued, the offer of limitless choices ultimately becomes a greater frustration when one suddenly bumps up against the notion of not being able to have all two, three or four that are "tied for first place". Doc posited that if the menu of choices is so expansive as to cause decision making to be virtual random guessing, no decision making skills nor sense of responsibility is developed.
If only the good Doc had been at the helm of our society the past 30 years or so. We are now at an economic crossroads where difficult choices need to be made, and all too many of us are angry for having to do so, no less unable to do so. The "all you can eat for $5 buffet" is closing, and no one wants to return to a fixed menu.