"Being a good dad starts with presence not presents"
I have worked in the wind industry for close to 8 years and risk management is part of everyday life on the job. Learning how to assess the potential for risk and the likely hood of the event actually happening is something that has become second nature. Being able to weight out the risks and rewards when presented with a new situation is a key aspect of why I have stayed safe. Now, by applying those same risk management techniques I use at work I am giving my kids more choices than ever.
Basic Risk Management
First I guess I should start with risk management 101, which I pretty much summed up in the picture below. Along the left side is the likelihood of an event happening then across the top you can see the severity of the consequence if a certain event happened. Knowing what the chances of something happening are and thinking about the outcome if it does allows you to properly evaluate how risky an activity is.
Using this to let me kids make more choices?
The choice we make throughout our life shape the person we grow to be. However the choices you don’t make can be just as profound in shaping you, and the life you lead. Knowing this now I am very mindful about the choices I give to my kids even at 2 and 4. For example, both girls have the choice to hug or not hug someone they are greeting (family members include) but they do not have a choice in saying thank you if they are given something or someone does something for them. So where does risk management come into these choices.
Let’s take example one ‘hugging’. If I don’t give them the choice and just order them to hug someone they don’t want to, what could be the outcome. They grow to feel like they don’t have a choice over what they do with their own body. Now what’s the likelihood I would say possible, what’s the consequence I would say moderate to major. So I give them the choice for me it’s too much of a risk not to.
Now example two ‘saying thank you’. If I let them choose whether to say thank you or not when they receive something (and item or service), what could be the outcome? My kids grow up with poor manners. Now what’s the likelihood, almost certain and what the consequence, for me it pretty major. Say thank you is part of learning respect, gratitude and politeness. Plus it’s a corner stone of adult behavior. So in this case they don’t get the choice, please and thank you all the way.
The examples above are really just to illustrate the process that take moments but can help when making the choice of choice. More and more I find that if I really think about the likelihood and consequence of giving my kids certain choice it turns out that I usually end up letting them choose more than I take the choice from them. I’m not saying every choice I give or don’t give me girls is governed by this but it’s definitely something I have in my tool box when I’m in a bind.
Risk and Reward
As well as using risk, I always throw in the reward aspect of a choice. What are the potential rewards of a given outcome. For example when Lucy was 3, I decided to take her hiking up the tunnel mountain trail in Banff. It’s uphill and switchbacks all the way and for little legs it can be steep in parts. She made it ¾ of the way then sat down and said she was done. Her legs were tired and she was sleepy and she didn’t want to do it anymore. Now, do I turn around a go down, do we push on, the risk is I push her to hard and she starts to not like hiking (and me for a few hours). So I should have turned around, but then the reward. I know waiting at the top of this hike is a sense of accomplishment and two red chairs that we could sit in together and look out over an amazing view with a snack. So we pushed on, and she made it, under her own steam and to see her face when see took a seat it was worth it. In this situation, for me the reward of her accomplishing such a great thing outweighed the risk of a grumpy girl for a few hours.
Tools of the trade
My last thought in giving choices to my girls is usually ‘are they equipped to make this decision’. Do they have the tools they need to make the choice and learn from the outcome if it doesn’t go their way? I don’t mind the girls getting upset or down if their choice doesn’t go as planned but I also would never set them up for complete heartbreaking failure if I didn’t think they could handle it. Now when they come up against situations they may not have the tools for, I have a choice. Do I wait for a similar decision to come around and make it for them again or do I make the choice to help equip them with the right tools to deal with big decisions and big failures. So that's my plan, try to find ways to prepare them for these decisions and failures and of course keep giving them as many choice as I can.