My 89 year old mother-in-law fell two days ago. She waited on the ground for two hours before an ambulance came. When the paramedics picked her up off the floor, she refused to go with them to the hospital. As it happens she fell again today and this time she consented to going with them.
My husband is angry. At the paramedics. For not “talking her into” going to the hospital the first time. That, at her age, she doesn’t know what’s best for her, even though she shows no signs of cognitive decline. I have no idea why she didn’t go, but I suspect it had to do with the fact that she waited 16 hours on a trolley in a corridor the last time she was brought by ambulance to hospital.
I’m sure she knew what the risks were, weighed up the options and decided to risk not going. And this time decided it wasn’t worth the risk. And I’m thankful the paramedics respected her wishes and didn’t try to convince her “for her own good”.
At the same time, my son decided he couldn’t endure another second of school and decided not to go. My daughter followed suit, as she’s hated school since her very first day. They have thoroughly researched their options and decided they want to be home educated. Unfortunately their father doesn’t agree, even though I do. As he can’t exactly drag them kicking and screaming, we have found a short term solution where they go just one hour a day and hang out in the resource teacher’s room.
Both my husband and the teachers say that the children cannot possibly know what’s best for them. That they need to go to school “for their own good” and that we cannot allow them to “dictate” how their education should go.
But I know the kids have thought carefully about things. They have weighed up the risks. Especially as it’s a matter that may have serious consequences if it doesn’t work out.
In both the above cases, people are told they are either “too old” or “too young” to know what’s best for them. Attempts to “talk them into” changing their minds are seen as a good thing. Yes, at least they are not being dragged kicking and screaming to hospital or to school. But subtle pressure is pressure nonetheless and has damaging effects.
And while I don’t believe that every whim of a person should be entertained, I do believe that once someone is aware of the risks and possible consequences of a course of an action that effects them directly, they should be allowed to make their own mind up, whatever their age.