My family consists of narrow-minded and stubborn personalities. When we have decided on a goal, we do everything in our power to reach it, no matter what the cost is (for varying reasons, I do it because Miley Cyrus told me to). My father, with an IQ just south of being Mensa-worthy, will always try and help me reach my desires. When I was neck-deep in a band junior year, he would always try to talk to the venue or show management to find out about this or that issue, and I would throw a hissy fit. It’s my damn band! Let me deal with being $40 short on tickets or needing to find a working power outlet. I need to know how to do this. I love the poor man to death for his illogical need to see me succeed, but the only time I’ve let him meddle has been with Physics. Okay, “Physics” means two years of late nights trying to explain to me how the rotational inertia of a hollow sphere is affected by the varying magnetic field it’s rolling through… I actually don’t think we’ve ever done a problem like that, but I digress. That’s where I’ve deviated from my own advice; let’s get back to why parents shouldn’t help, and I’ll always let you lord the help I’ve received for Physics over me.
No child can flourish without at least a taste of adversity. I’m not telling anyone to drop their seven year-old off in the middle of New York with a map and a bus card in the morning with no advice except, “Dinner’s at six; don’t be late!” in an attempt to prepare their offspring for the real world, but I am saying that a kid who has never had to think for themselves will never be able to. Again, don’t think that’s a reason to be neglectful. If you expect your kid to cook every meal, clean the house, take care of the pets and their younger siblings, and do it all with a full course load, you are a bad parent. My dad never explicitly gave me the answers to any problems; we sat at a table in the corner of the living room with a pot of coffee and a bag of Girl Scout cookies between us, and he painstakingly worked me through the steps to find the solution to a ridiculous problem.
This concept will always require a tricky balance. Is driving to school with your child’s homework coddling them and teaching them not to plan ahead? If it’s a regular occurrence, yes. Should you wake your son or daughter if he or she oversleeps and would miss school if left alone? You should at least make an effort to do so. If you expect love, respect, and kindness from the fruit of your loins (that’s an outdated term), help them when you can, but know when it’s time for them to learn for themselves. One day, your little angels will go into the world alone, and they’ll have to deal with choosing significant others by themselves, with classes, and with work by themselves. Let them be prepared.
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