I once read a quote somewhere that said “Parenting is the art of slowly shifting the family dynamic from an autocracy to a democracy”. When I first heard that quote, I thought to myself that the hard part is knowing how fast to go how far down that spectrum. It turns out, and I’m barely started down that spectrum, that the hard part is democracy. When you’ve got things to get done, democracy doesn’t work very well.
I’m sure in the Roman pantheon, those enlightened souls sat about in calm dialog about the best possible choices for the greater good. But my children are not Greek sages. Nor for that matter am I. At first I assumed that the real problem was that the children would only vote for their own self interest. This meant, as I saw it, that I was invariably being inconvenienced. The real issue was that my single vote did not protect my own interests, and as such, democracy must be broken.
Wait, that doesn’t seem right. Lets try this in a different context. Modern politicians are not greek sages. I mean, look at the truly vast numbers of people that they represent and the huge numbers of members of the legislative assembly or parliament. It is not possible to make everyone happy all of the time, so they do their best to make the best possible choices about the greater good. And if we the constituents aren’t happy with the way our elected officials cast their votes, well, that’s only because they did not support our own self-interests. At least we know that the majority of people cast votes asking these folks to make decisions on our behalf…oh, they didn’t? What’s a first past the post? Well never mind.
As it turns out, autocracy doesn’t work for anyone past the age of 1 (except for the autocrat). Democracy in the greater world and in the family is hard. Really hard. Like anything worth doing, whether that be running a country or being part of a family, one has to work at it every day. One has to listen hard, understand the issues, discuss solutions, and vote for the one you believe is in the best interests of all. The hard part is accepting the will of the group and supporting it even if you are inconvenienced. Democracy is hard, but worth it.