The Autonomy of a Child…

Last week I had a conversation with my youngest child about the school he should attend either private or public. In his discussion he feels he is old enough to decide what is best for him. I completely understand his view however, I don’t believe he fully understands what’s best for him. Which takes me back to my childhood and the autonomy I was given by the adults in charge.

As I think back on my childhood and how events evolved one of the many situations I fail to understand is the autonomy I had at such a young age to make decisions for myself. The first instance occurred after fourth grade, I had decided that life was too hard for me at my g-aunts house. At this point I was cooking and doing my own laundry (by hand), this was huge for me. I would spend hours doing my laundry, white socks had to be as white as when they were first purchased. What kid wants to spend their Saturday mornings doing laundry. On one occasion I decided it was too much and I was bored, the clothes were as clean as they could get. I decided I was done and took them outside to the clothesline and call it a day! My g-aunt quickly comes outside, looks at the clothes removes from the line and throws them at me to take them back to clean them more! So at some point I decided I was not returning to the US, instead I was going to give Mexico a try.

After the summer was over I was enrolled in school and life was good… In my vague memories I remember being happy, due to the fact I was allowed to live with my grandmother and not my mother. I had friends and was allowed to do live life. After a couple of months, maybe even less I transferred to another school, because of my friends… and I was allowed!!! Anyhow, at some point I recall I wanted to return to the US and I did.

I have so many questions, which will go unanswered. Why was I allowed to do what I wanted? Where were the adults that were to care for me? Did no one care about my whereabouts or well being? Was I a burden on everyone that it was easier to let me do what I wanted… It boggles my mind to think that I was “given” to another person to raise me and to have no one take ownership of me. I know ownership makes me sound like property, but damn that’s how I feel. As a mother it is hard to understand, I love my children dearly and would never allow anyone to take them from me, let alone give them up.

As I work through these issues it is hard for me to think someone had my best interest at heart. My conclusion is that I was a burden to my mother who at this point was married and had a baby, to my g-aunt due to my rambunctious and rebellious nature, and to anyone else whom I did not belong to. How does a person heal from this and start believing that there is a place where I actually belong. I feel like I have never belonged anywhere, or I should say I’ve never felt that I did actually belonged to anyone.

My question is how much autonomy should a child be given?

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