Children need choices. They need to be able to decide the things that impact their lives. From picking out their clothes in the morning, to where to go to school, to what they learn at that school, they need to be a part of the things that affect them. Of course they need guidance and adults who will encourage, model and advise on healthy, rational decisions. Of course they will make mistakes, we all make mistakes, it is how we learn. The problem of not allowing children to make decisions comes when they grow up into adults who do not know how to make decisions. And this is why it is especially important that children help decide the things that really matter in their lives because otherwise they are unfamiliar with the process, unable to commit. So many of what appear to be day-to-day choices, i.e. what brand of cola to drink, what sneakers to buy, even what candidate to vote for are not choices at all but a selection from a predetermined pool of which either option is not all that different. As adults that cannot make choices, people flail, lose sight of what is important to them because no one has ever asked. Young people graduating college are very often in this boat. Instead of young people receiving their diploma and being well-prepared and confident in what they are going to do in the world, they falter, hesitate, and search for the next decision that has been made for them. In the socio-economic background I come from it was not a choice to go or not to go to college, the pseudo choice was which college to go to. There is a difference here. Living in Baltimore City, I see the knowledge that young people gain by being in an urban environment. They have some very real choices to make. Whether or not to get involved with drugs or gangs becomes an important life changing decision. Even which streets to walk down have more of an impact on their lives than many of the choices left to children in suburban homes. This is only what I have witnessed in the places that I have lived, maybe you have found something different, but I see in all the young people I work with the importance of being able to choose, being asked what they think about things instead of being told so that they can form opinions and act on what they know. Let our children be part of the process of deciding the important things that will affect them. Let them be a part of it now. It will serve them and us better.