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Monday, October 15, 2012

Write A Proposal

by Seattle Jon (bio)

Our twelve year-old daughter recently came to us and asked, “Can we get a rabbit?” Now, rabbits are cute and soft and I think I’d probably like touching their ears, but we already have six chickens and we’ve made it clear that dad’s “allergies” make it difficult – no, damn near impossible – for us to put up with any more animals in or around the house.

We didn’t say no, though. Instead, we told her to write a proposal.

Why did we ask her to write a proposal when the answer was already “no?” Here are a few reason we’ve increasingly been using this strategy with our oldest. Maybe you could come up with a few reasons we haven’t thought of, and if so, please share them in the comments.
  1. Having your child write you a proposal delays the decision. Who knows, you might change your mind. Or your kid might change his or her mind. At the very least, the extra few hours (or days sometimes) gives you time to put some thought into your answer.

  2. Teaching kids to articulate what exactly it is they want, why they want it and what they’ll do to get and keep it can sometimes always be a challenge. Writing a proposal helps them do all three.

  3. Asking your child to write a proposal that you’ll review before making a decision makes them feel like more of an equal, which can sometimes, and with some kids, be a good thing.

  4. Your child will feel like they control their own destiny, even when they don’t.

  5. Learning to write a proposal will benefit your child in a thousand different career paths.

  6. Finally, having the ability to discuss/debate/debunk specific points THEY came up with makes it very difficult for them to argue with you if the answer is no. If the answer is yes (and we’ve had Ella write a proposal even though we knew the answer was yes), having specific points to point out and praise makes the exercise one of encouragement and self-esteem building – something that every pre-teen or teenager probably needs more of.
Back to the bunny proposal, we received the following a few days after the initial request. And while our answer was still a resounding NO!, the experience for her and us was a resounding YES! So, our proposal to you is to propose more proposals.

My Bunny Proposal

I would really like a bunny. Not a rabbit, but a bunny with floppy ears and glossy fur. I would like a baby bunny. I would keep it in the garage, and pay for her if you would pay for the cage and food. I could pay for the cage, maybe.

For my bunny I could get a good grade on some tests, run three miles, do babysitting jobs to pay for her, or even build my own cage. Whatever you want.

I would also take care of the bunny, changing the water, feeding her, and changing her shavings. I would name the bunny and give her all the love I have.


Author’s note: It was really hard saying no to this … don't tell her I said this, though.

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