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Choosey Mothers Choose Consequences

“Well sweetie, your actions have consequences.” My 9 year old daughter is hunched over, clutching her stomach with both hands. She’s maybe a bit over dramatic. “I tried to warn you that eating an entire tub of frosting by yourself would make you sick.”

She looks up at me. “I’ll never eat frosting again.” I chuckle quietly to myself, knowing she will likely try a similar gamble tomorrow.

My daughter is starting to understand the inseparable relationship between choices and consequences. We make thousands of choices every day, and each one of those choices has a consequence. Often consequences are thought of as a bad thing. If you eat a whole tub of frosting, you get a tummy ache. If you spend more money than you have, you end up with debt. Yes, consequences are everywhere. Exercise leads to better health. When you drop something it falls to the ground. When you speak, people usually hear you.

Our constant ability to make choices is known as our agency. We have agency to act and to choose. Agency is best exercised under three conditions:

1 - An understanding of morality, and right and wrong.

2 - An unrestrained ability to choose

3 - An understanding of the connection between actions and consequences.

As mothers it is our responsibility to better exercise our agency. To ensure that we make the best choices that lead to the best consequences. To do this, we need to understand how each aspect of agency applies to ourselves.

An understanding of morality and right and wrong

What do you believe as a mother? What are your core values? What is right and wrong to you? Explore these things within your own life. This is not to suggest that you do a deep dive into the trolley problem and philosophy. But it may require a deeper understanding of yourself. If you are religious, why? What is it about religion that appeals to you? If you are not religious, why not? Where do you find your moral core? Why? What about that appeals to you? Are there parts of your life that are not in harmony with your moral compass? What can you do to improve that?

As you come to understand your moral center, and live it more honestly, you will be more able to exercise agency. You will see the choices in front of you as opportunities to choose good, to choose light. Your agency is your way to increase the amount of good in the world.

An unrestrained ability to choose

This should seem obvious, but the more opportunities you have to make choices, the greater your agency is. The more difficult part of this, however, is figuring out how to give ourselves more opportunities to choose. First we need to understand what some of the things are that can limit our choices. In this article, we will look at two specific examples: addictions and finances.

Addictions are a plague to choice. Obviously, an addiction to a substance can significantly limit an individual’s physical or mental capacity to choose certain activities. For instance, a drunk person will likely perform poorly in sports. However other addictions can also hinder our agency. Addiction to social media and smartphones. Addiction to books. Addiction to shopping. Addiction to gossip. Choosing to spend time and energy on our addiction limits or diminishes the time and energy we have for other activities. Addictions also seriously limit our ability to make choices and exercise agency because of our emotional and mental dependence on them.

We can also be shackled by monetary instability. Our choices can be seriously limited by debt, shortness of money, over-obsession with money, etc. By properly budgeting and appropriately controlling our finances, we allow ourselves greater ability to make choices because we have greater control over our resources. We can choose certain things because we have the means. We have the means simply because we were more mindful.

An understanding of the connection between actions and consequences

As I told my daughter, actions have consequences. The reality is, this should be highly motivating. The idea that making good choices leads to good outcomes is exciting. It’s hopeful. As we come to understand our moral compass, what is right and wrong, we can make better choices. As we open ourselves up to greater opportunities to choose, we can make even more good choices. Agency is one of the most powerful tools we have as mothers. It can make or break us. If wielded carelessly, it can lead us to devastating places. If wielded properly, it can lead us, our families, and even the world, to greater places than we can possibly imagine.

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