I’m a big advocate for empowering kids to make decisions. However, I’m realizing parenting is a delicate balance between letting kids choose and giving them direction to help them choose.

On New Years Day, Cannon spent the morning at the Fiesta Bowl. It had already been a long week of Christmas break, and then a really late New Years Eve and he was up early the next day to head off to a football game. He got home that afternoon and we could see he was tired but he was really looking forward to a neighborhood party that evening. (The party always has delicious food and inflatables for kids.)

Shortly before the neighborhood party, we got a phone call from a friend inviting Cannon to a Suns game with his best friend with really great seats. Steve started to answer for him before even asking and was surprised when Cannon wasn’t as enthusiastic about the offer. He really wanted to go to the party. We tried explaining to him the amazing opportunity he was potentially missing out on – but he had tunnel vision about playing on the inflatables. In our mind it was a an easy decision – but for him it wasn’t.

But he couldn’t see the whole picture. The one person he wanted to play with at the party was going to be at the game. He was excited about the food truck dinner, but the game also came with a fun dinner experience. He had limited experience with professional sports games and wasn’t sure if it was worth it.

In the end he chose the game – probably a little bit out of pressure even though we totally backed off once we saw he was conflicted about his decision.

And he came home beaming.

He was with his best friend. He got to fist bump one of his favorite players. He met the mascot. He had all the food and treats he wanted. He caught a shirt. He had an awesome night.

We knew this experience was going to be far more fun and impactful than the party he was excited about but it was a struggle to help him to see that without squashing his decision making ability. Lucky for him, this was a night he won’t soon forget.