The CHOICES I books focus on what impacts decision making: values, attitudes, peer and family pressures, responsibilities, and goals. Stories from the Chicken Soup for the Soul books are utilized as a way of learning through the experiences of others. These thought provoking stories can promote a lively group discussion on choices and reinforce learning points of the program.
To help teach individuals the importance of the 4C decision process, the Choices program uniquely utilizes the stories in the Chicken Soup for the Soul books. The following is a sample of the story that appears in each chapter:
Parents learn that sometimes the most powerful lessons are learned from mistakes as in “The Little Train That Couldn’t” by Barbara Stanley. “This most important lesson, of messing up and then saying I was sorry, taught my children that when they messed up, they could also say they were sorry, and life would be good again.
Values will be formed by the people in their lives and by the situations they experience as in “Lessons in Baseball” by Chick Moorman. “I learned that everyone has worth, whether they can hit .33 or .030. I learned that we all have value, whether we can stop the ball or have to turn and chase it. I learned that doing what is right, fair and honorable is more important than winning or losing.”
Actions of parents often speak louder than words as revealed in the story “The Pickle Jar” by A. W. Cobb. “My dad was a man of few words, and he never lectured me on the values of determination, perseverance and faith. The pickle jar had taught me all these virtues far more eloquently than the most flowery of words could have done.”
Attitudes affect their choices in positive and negative ways as in “First Kiss – First Lesson” by Jennifer Braunschweiger. “In other words, why didn’t I just think about what I was doing and realize my actions affected other people? Uh, good question.” “It kills me that I cornered Jon – who had betrayed me – and made him talk to me, but I never even gave my mom that chance.”
Attitude adjustments are not just needed for children as shown in “I’m Not Your Slave” by Christie A. Hansen. “For starters, I’ve begun to think of myself as a volunteer. Together with my husband, I made a conscious decision to have a family. You could say that I volunteered to be a mother. On days when motherhood is a bit more than I bargained for, I find it helpful to remind myself that I chose this lifestyle.”
Peer / Family Pressures may impact their lives but ultimately the decisions are made by them as in “Betty Ann” by Ina Hughs. “…but by far, the toughest lesson I learned was that life doesn’t come with erasers. I couldn’t make something that had happened, not happen.”
Parents are reminded to take the time away from the pressures to have fun as in the story “Chasing A Rainbow” by Terri Cheney. “We’d found something wonderful while chasing that rainbow, something even better than that coveted pot of gold. We’d found ourselves a family again; we’d rediscovered the value of our relationship to each other. We’d remembered what it felt like to have fun. And we’d started making plans for a future that felt hopeful and full of promise.”
Responsibilities are inevitably part of life and that overcoming obstacles builds character as in “To track Down My Dream” by Ashley Hodgeson. “That day I learned two things: First, a little kindness and confidence in people can make a great difference to them. And second, strength and courage aren’t always measured in medals and victories. They are measured in the struggles we overcome. The strongest people are not always the people who win, but the people who don’t give up when they lose.”
Through experiences of others as in “A Time for Love” by Noreen Wyper, parents learn that “The time that your child deserves your love the least is the time that your child needs it the most.”
Goals can be achieved or lost by the choices they make as in “New Beginnings” by Paula (Bachleda) Koskey. “That’s the weird thing about most of life’s big moments—very rarely do they consist of one emotion. But that’s okay. It helps to make the good times more precious and the not-so-good times bearable.”
Parents sometimes learn from their children to refocus on what is really important as in “Where Are You Paddling?” by George Walther. “That’s how she taught me that the goal of father-daughter canoeing is not to reach a destination swiftly; it’s to enjoy being together and to relish where you are while respecting others’ wishes and learning a little something. And isn’t that also the goal of life?”