Whenever I Have a Tough Parenting Question, I Just Ask My Kid

As parents, we always want what's best for our kids. We ask the hard questions, do our research, and even get expert advice because we don't want to get caught up in a big parenting mistake. But one thing I think many of us forget to do is simply ask our children these very same questions. I recently realized this with my own 6-year-old son, and his response taught me a massive lesson about myself as a mother.

No, I won't give him a say in everything, especially as a young kid, but now I know the importance of welcoming him into the conversation.

Before my son started kindergarten, I did a lot of research about the different schools and teachers in our area. Because he's young for his grade, I wanted his teacher to be a good fit for him, and thankfully, we found one. Although the big kindergarten transition was a little tough on him due to the long days, he excelled with help from his teacher. And when the end of the school year neared, I knew I had to already start thinking about who his first grade teacher should be. "What class do you recommend for him?" I asked his teacher. "Oh, he'll be great for either looping or the multiage classroom," she responded. "He's a very independent learner."

While I was pleased to hear that he was an independent learner, this was not the answer I wanted. I had hoped that one teacher or classroom style would fit him best. So when we got home, I did what I always do . . . I researched. Looping is when you get the same teacher for two school years in a row, which I thought my son would love because he could form a strong connection with the same teacher. The multiage classroom does a lot of project-based learning where he would be placed in a room with older children, which I thought he would also love because he'd think it would be cool to be in a class with the "big kids." After all my research, I learned that both kinds of classrooms have their perks, and I couldn't decide which would suit my son's needs best. I didn't know what to do next. After all, this was a decision for me and his teacher, right?

But then one day while driving in the car, it dawned on me . . . why don't I just ask my son? I described the two different kinds of classrooms to him and I was shocked by his response. "Oh, Mommy," my son trembled, "I DO NOT want to be in a class with big kids." I looked in the rearview mirror and worry was painted across his face. He was visibly upset by the thought of being in a class with big kids. And because my son acts like the typical firstborn and wants to be good at everything, I realized then that he would probably put too much pressure on himself in a classroom with the older students. If he wasn't up to their speeds, he could push too hard to catch up. "OK, honey," I said. "I'll tell your teacher that I think you'd do better with looping." He looked like a deflated balloon after exhaling all that relief.

It was in that exact moment that I realized the answers to some of my hardest parenting questions lie right there in my own son. Yes, he's little, but it's his future, after all, and I didn't give him enough credit for knowing what he wants and thinking hard about what's best for himself. Kids should always have a say in things, regardless of their age. I want to involve my son in his own decisions now so that he knows how to make the right choices (or at least try to) later. I also want my son to know that I value his opinions and truly care about his own well-being and happiness. No, I won't give him a say in everything, especially as a young kid, but now I know the importance of welcoming him into the conversation. So, the next time I come across a hard dilemma regarding my children, I'll be sure to ask them before anyone else.

Editor's Note: This piece was written by a POPSUGAR contributor and does not necessarily reflect the views of POPSUGAR Inc. Interested in joining our POPSUGAR Voices network of contributors from around the globe? Click here.