What you need to know:
Be it the choice of food, TV programmes, schools they go to or hangout venues, children need to be allowed to take part in family choices.
Just like every adult member of the family, children too, need to be involved in a family’s decision making. it is important to involve your entire family, including children and other people that make up your family. Many families tend to ignore the fact that all activities undertaken in a home require every member’s input.
Brenda Namutiibwa, a Makerere University Bachelors of Biomedical lab tech student says: “As a child, I can only get involved in decisions made if the elders do involve me.
“My dad and I usually chat over the next day’s meal as well as what would be the next step in academics which is his way of involving me in making a decision but would only do so if my opinion is required.”
Although some parents look at their children as minors, Christine Alalo from the Uganda Police Child Protection Unit says children need not be deprived of their rights since they too, are human beings.
What parents and other guardians should understand is if they allow a child their rights, then they will build a great and intelligent mind.
Children can make great contributions
Timothy Tavuga, a resident of Namasuba expounds on this: “They are human beings that have the right to freedom of expression or speech. Because we are dealing with involving children in making decisions in any kind of family activities, they may be the brightest and with fresh new ideas, there will be a successful home and nation.”
Winnie Nakato Bainomugisha, the headmistress of Compass Learning Centre and Infant School Namugongo says: “Decision making is a way of appreciating and showing man what to do when something goes wrong.”
Children are haunted if not involved in certain matters but it is even more painful if a child has no say totally when it comes to some matters that affect them directly.
Leaving children out of crucial family decisions makes some of them feel useless because they never get a chance to conrtibute to the family’s development.
“I am perturbed by some parents who mostly take decisions on behalf of their children. Don’t you ever ask yourself if what you actually decide for them is their favourite or if it is something they dislike?
“When children choose for themselves say for example a school, clothes to wear, then they are happier than having to settle for that ugly cloth that they do not like. I believe that it is the joy of every parent to see that their child is happy,” says 23-year-old Catherine Abuyo, a resident of Ssonde-Namugongo.
Of course it matters the kind of decisions to be made and the time frame involved as Yosia Kigongo, a mechanic and resident of Nakulabye says.
“I cannot involve my children in some matters when it comes to matters of taking quick decisions. In most cases, the matter may concern me selling a car and do not necessarily need to involve my children to take the decision for it may involve time,” Kigongo states and it is understandable.
However, whenever a parent can, they need to involve the children because it trains them to handle important matters even in the absence of their parents.
The Rt Rev David Sebuhinja, Provincial office of Church of Uganda in Namirembe says: “Children are creatures that were created by God and are as important as any other person on planet earth.”
If children’s opinions are as important as everyone else’s, how old is old enough to be involved in the family’s decision making?
According to Bainomugisha, it is relatively advisable to involve children in making decisions starting at the age of three years because at that time, a child is able to make sense of some concerns.
Jaque Naula, a parent of two and resident of Seeta-Kigunga says: “I would involve my children in decisions to be taken at the age of 11 since they can make sense out of these issues when mature enough.”
Always value a child’s decisions because a child’s opinion may turn impossibilities into possibilities as they matter a lot. Above all, give them the respect they require.”
Factors to consider when involving children in decision making
•Magnitude of the decision. Some decisions require a lot of thought and analysis.
•Age. Considerably involve children in making decisions at the age of three and above.
•Time. Some decisions involve immediacy or some time to discuss so a good decision can be made.
•Level of child’s intelligence. We understand that some children’s brains are slow while others think fast so consider this as one way of making a decision.