WHAT A DIFFERENCE ONE DECISION MAKES
I was talking to a friend today about how the whole course of my life changed after one fateful decision. Not only did it affect my life, but also the lives of many in our extended family. This reflection reinforced to me the fact that we seriously need to teach our children how to make wise decisions and to think before they act.
It was October. I was only 14 months old and my brother 4 years old when my mother decided to leave my father and start a new life with the man who was the father of the child she was carrying. We lived in a little village in the middle of Tasmania, Australia. Watching my mother walk down the front path that bleak day changed our whole lives. My father was only 24 years old with two very small children to care for. What was he to do?
The first thing was to find someone to care for us. The next-door neighbor stepped in and, for a short time, looked after us during the day while Dad worked. My father’s older sister had a fabulous job as a registered nurse working with the ground staff of the Flying Doctor Service in Darwin, at the very top of Australia. As she was unmarried, Dad asked her if she would come to our rescue. She gave up her job and her exciting life to be our ‘mother’.
After six years my Aunt and a cousin decided to go for a holiday to New Zealand. While on vacation she met a very nice man and decided she wanted to marry him and move there. When she finally left us, our Dad didn’t realize that we actually thought she was our mother. We were so small we didn’t know the difference, so basically we lost two mothers in the space of eight years. Between the next-door neighbor (whom we loved dearly), my Dad and a housekeeper (who was really scary and Dad had to fire), we muddled through two more years.
One day we received a letter from my Aunt in New Zealand to ask my father to consider moving to New Zealand and live with them. At that time my brother and I were 9 and 11 years of age. Although this seemed exciting at the time, that decision cost us the loss of contact with all of our friends, Dad’s brothers and sisters in Australia and any possibility of reuniting with my mother in the foreseeable future. As the years passed, our lives traveled various paths and we have, in fact, been very blessed.
The other day one of my cousins in Tasmania passed away and it caused me to think back on the lost years, where, because of those past circumstances, we were separated from what would have otherwise been a closely-knit family. My story is one of great loss as well as gain. I lost family connection as well as a mother I never really got to know until I was 21 years old.
I cannot emphasize strongly enough the importance of teaching our kids to think, not just of the ‘now’, but of the far reaching effects of their decisions. I know a woman who, when she married, promised to stay with her husband for 20 years – not for life. Divorce is so commonplace now that many couples don’t have any real resolve to stay together for life. They fully expect to come unstuck and therefore do not have the resolve to work things out. I know that unexpected things happen and that with the best intentions, things don’t always work out the way we dreamed they would.
What I do feel is that we need to make sure our kids understand and experience the consequences of their decisions, good or bad. We need to encourage their wisdom when we see it and help them through their bad choices, rather than shield them from their responsibilities.
I wonder how many people are in jail now regretting their rash decisions. Poor choices made in the heat of the moment certainly can change our destiny. I’m the product of several poor choices at a time when I was far too young to influence the outcomes.
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