Free Will

We like to think of our daughter as a companion and allow her as much free will as possible.

I’ve always believed that if a request of hers doesn’t disrespect or encroach on other people or their property, we can let her have the experience. If, as parents, we can provide or allow it, we do so. Otherwise, we explain why it may not be such a good idea.

Recently, however, I have read and been told about “Vitamin N,” meaning saying “no” more often. The idea is that we should not give or allow children everything or every experience they ask for. That’s so they learn life isn’t always easy and success doesn’t always come just by asking.

But this seems like a control tactic. That is, if they mostly don’t get what they want, then they will stop asking or perhaps dreaming of what they want and just go along with what parents say.

So my question is this: How much free will do we allow our children in order to foster spiritual growth?

—Eric, United States

Dear Eric,

Parents are to raise their children to become law-abiding citizens in the community.

Free will is a good thing, but not at the expense of responsibility. Some believe free will means doing whatever one pleases and that no consequences will attend misdeeds. Children need a firm, loving hand. When they want something special, find a way they can earn it.

“Vitamin N” must make sense, or it’s useless as a training tool. Bring reason to the table and clearly explain, as you do, why “no” means no. If the child objects, fine!

Who’s the parent?

Parents won’t always get it right, so they must chalk up mistakes to experience and determine to do better next time. Life certainly isn’t easy, but we don’t purposely set blocks in front of our kids, either, to teach them life can be hard.

I know you’re not such a parent. Don’t worry that giving children a firm “no” will turn them into reprobates or make them afraid to take a chance on life. Most kids are resilient. The creativity of Soul will come bubbling through. They’ll be OK.

Now to the question, How much free will to allow children in order to foster spiritual growth?

Enough, but not too much.

All kidding aside (yes, intended), double-check with the Inner Master before setting your plans to instruct your children into motion.