Do I turn left? Do I turn right? Do I go say hello or do I grab a refreshment first? Choices. Everyday, everyone is bombarded by choices. Everyday we make hundreds of choices. Most of these choices are inconsequential. But from time to time a choice does actually have consequences. There are some who realize this and make the correct choice, while others sadly do not. Those who make the right choices are often rewarded with the joys of life, while those who don't make the right choice often face hardship and sorrow.
The freedom of choice often begins in the teenaged years. Prior to a sense of choice being developed, most rely on the guidance of their parents to make effective choices. The benefit of this upbringing extends into later life and into the same process; raising a child to make effective choices. Without effective stable parenting, a child's sense of choice can not be developed. This causes repercussions not only for the child itself but for those around it and later on, their own children. This unfortunately can lead to many other problems. Therefore, the development of a sense of choice is essential. Without this individuals are not fully equipped to function in the world. There are several examples of this that occur all too often: mismanagement of the human body, unplanned and unsustainable parenting, and ultimately death.
It's often seen in the teenage years that the "cool" thing to do is to engage in the use of tobacco, alcohol, and drugs. With effective parenting a child's (or teenager) sense of choice can be influenced to show that these things are the furthest thing from "cool". The use of these substances also can have a negative effect later on in life with respect to other choices that must be made. Ultimately, if a child or teenager doesn't have a developed sense of choice from effective parenting it's easy to see why so many teens can get drawn into such a lifestyle. Not only is it the responsibility of the parent or guardian to ensure that a child knows right from wrong, it is their job to ensure the child in question is able to take this stance into the future for their own offspring.
Without a positive sense of choice, a trap is created for teens entering their first romantic relationship. These relationships can start early, often before the age of 15. Without positive choices it is entirely possible to become a parent at such an age. Once again, this could ultimately stem from the parenting of the parent (now a grandparent) in that they did not sufficiently teach the sense of choice that is required. Not only does this put an astounding amount of pressure on the new parent but without the proper support (which can be unlikely) it can also drastically change the childhood of the newborn. The age of consent should not be equated to a license to reproduce without thought.
Lastly, death. Every person on this world is going to die at some point, it's simply a matter of how and when. Choices can often play a large role in determining both. Choices pertaining to whether or not a teenager starts smoking, consuming alcohol, or using drugs play a role on life expectancy. The types of food we consume also play a role in our health and that plays a factor in determining how long we live. Choices pertaining to lifestyle may not seem immediately apparent but they will be known at some point in the future. It's also entirely possible that the pressure from being a young parent or the world of drugs can lead one to the unthinkable, suicide. The choices one makes can often lead to premature death. They are not only to blame, the sense of choice must be taught by parents who are actually parents.
What can be done?
Often, the goal of many people is to search for easy and simple solutions. With society in general there is no such definition as an easy and simple solution. We could try forced education by societal bodies known to exert a positive influence. This would be seen as a breach of human rights and would not be possible in the modern era. The tough love approach could also be tried in which those in such a position are left to fend for themselves. Once more, this would not be deemed as acceptable by the wider society. There are very few public options that would be possible today.
In order to exact change, we must become the change we seek. It is important for those who are in a position where they have undergone an upbringing to act as a positive force of influence when required. Such a force may be enacted on a familial level. It could also be enacted through a groups at the local level such as churches. This is a precarious position to be in as it is often hard for people to say what must be said to change opinions.
Ultimately in order to achieve widespread success, change must come from society in general. Society must cast away the lackadaisical stance that has flourished over the last century and return to a more traditional set of values. With such a change in society the lives of many around the world and in our communities would be improved greatly. The pressure exerted by one individual does not have to be absolute. With enough people's minds directed in the right direction it is possible to exact the change we seek.
Use your free will and sense of choice to become the change that is required.
This was originally posted as an Informer Real World