|Home | Parenting | Pseudo Choices
says "pseudochoices" are not real choices. Here
is his article.
This is based on a true story
which I saw in Australia in about 2003. Suzy was 5 years
old at the time. S. Hein
Suzy: I am not
going to bed. You can't make me. I will go to bed
when I feel like it.
She was smiling at first. But
then the mother ordered her to go back to her room
and go to bed. She screamed, "NO!" in
have a choice. You can either sleep on your bed or on
want to sleep in your bed."
"That is not an option."
Immediately, I wondered why the
mother was the one who decided what the options were. I
thought about this more the next morning and wrote a
fictional continuation of their conversation, based on
what an informed, aware, determined child might say in
response. I wanted to dramatize how a child or teenager
might start to feel after years of not having real
Then I hear Suzy say:
I am so sick of "You have
a choice." No, I don't. Don't lie to me. If I
had a choice I would do what *I* want to do, not one
of the things that you want me to.
Why can't you just tell me why
you want me to go to bed? Why do you make it seem
like it is always good for me and it is always my
choice? You want to talk on the Internet to that guy
again, don't you? That is why you want me to go to
bed. You just want me out of your hair. I am not that
You say, "You will be tired and cranky
tomorrow." So in other words you don't want to
be bothered by me tomorrow. You are thinking of how
it will affect you, aren't you?
You don't really care about me. All you care about is
yourself. You call me selfish when actually you are the one who is
always thinking about what you want and what you need
and what you are afraid of. I am sick and sooo tired
When I turn 6, I am moving out. (Suzy mistakenly
thinks the laws in her country let her move out at 6,
but it is really 16)
When you say I am "cranky" it just means
that I don't obey you obsequiously; I don't do
every little thing you tell me to. I protest. I
"answer back." I speak up for myself, in
other words. I question things. I let you know in the
only way I can how I feel. And by the way, you never
ask me to do things. You always tell me to. Even when
you "ask" me to, I know that you are really
ordering me to. Once again, I am not that stupid.
Leave me alone! I am sick and tired of you. Go away
or help me leave. I never, ever want to see you
again. I have figured you out. You are really
pathetic. You are 28 and haven't figured out how to
meet your own emotional needs, so you try to meet them through
Well I am not going to let you
use me anymore.
The only way you can make me do
something is if you physically force me, but if you
ever touch me again I will call the police.
I will make my own decisions
from now on.
If you really love me, you will
help me get away from you. If you don't help me leave
I will stay here as a prisoner till I can legally get
away from you. If you change, maybe I will come back.
But help me get away from you and live someplace
where I feel safe and can make real choices until you
If you are not willing to
change for me, then I will know that I am not that
important to you. I can accept that. But I can't
accept this kind of abuse anymore.
I wrote this story to show how some
strong willed children become rebellious and defiant. And
how they learn to express their strong feelings when no
one has listened to them for years and years. When the
child is five, they can't express themselves this way of
course. And they can't articulate what they see and
perceive. They can't see that their parents are using
them to fill the parent's unmet emotional needs, or sometimes unmet sexual needs. They
don't understand what is going on. But if they did, this
is how they might sound.
In the real story, the mother, who
was a single parent, actually did a relatively good job
of talking with Suzy later and getting her voluntary
cooperation. But some mothers would have hit their child.
While I wrote this I was thinking of a teen I know whose
mother has hit her all her life and who tried to kill
herself - (Steph)
Here is the original full version
of the Suzy story
(warning contains a lot of profanity)