"Parents can't choose the mates of their children or the behavior of their children. You actually can't choose anything for your children without disempowering them." - Esther Hicks
I will be back later to share my thoughts on this. I just wanted to post the quote before I forgot it.
Brownie, you are right there are times (most of the time actually) when it is good to let your kids make choices. I figure they will be better able to make good choices later if I let them gain practice now. I also allow natural consequences to let my kids know when they didn't make a good choice. For example, Cam didn’t want to put her shoes on a couple of weeks ago when it was time to leave her preschool. I tried to talk to her about how it was cold outside and that her feet would be cold without shoes. She didn’t care and didn’t want to wear shoes. So I said ok and out the door we walked Cam bare footed. I knew it would be uncomfortable, but I didn’t want to force her into shoes. We made it halfway to the van and she decided she didn’t make a good choice and wanted her shoes. I handed her the shoes and she put them on. Next time she didn’t choose not to wear her shoes.
I don't let them into danger or to be rude, but if they want to argue something and talk about it with respect then who am I to tell them “no you have to do it just because that’s what I want”. Now there are occasions where I have to say, I'm sorry but this is not something you have a choice on. Because let’s face it there will be times in the real world when they won’t have a choice. I do try to limit this to situations where a choice really isn't possible. I also make sure we talk about all the things that mommy and daddy don’t have a choice on too. I validate their frustrations.