Want to cut down on battles in your family? Increase your child’s sense of responsibility? Help him learn some valuable life skills? Cut down on your own stress?

You can do all this and more by occasionally handing your child the reins and letting him make some family decisions.

This may sound shocking, but it’s not. Middle schoolers are perfectly capable of doing things that will help the whole family.

They can plan meals. They can suggest family outings or help to plan vacations. They can help with home decorating. They can lend their recent experience when a younger sibling has a problem or question.

Middle schoolers should also be able to make decisions about their own free time.

Note: this is NOT a decision about whether to do homework. It is a decision about whether they should have to spend their only two free hours on Saturday visiting a relative or running errands with you. Ask your child before assuming what he will want to do. Just be prepared to take no for an answer.

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