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Parenting for the Brave

Abraham Lincoln once said, “if you caught a fish for a man then you will feed him for a day, but if you teach him to fish, he will feed himself for a lifetime.” A day is coming, sooner than you think, that you will say adios to your children and watch them waddle off into the sunset. Unless, of course, you plan on storing them away in your basement and shoveling tacos to them every Tuesday. In that case you won’t like what I am about to suggest.

For you brave souls that are serious about ridding yourselves of those little money pits that eat you out of house and home, and torment your pets, I will now drop some nuggets of wisdom into your thought processes.

I am growing older, but I am not blind, and I have witnessed for many years a phenonium among parents and grandparents in our culture that frustrates the tar out of me. It is commonly called helicopter parenting. It is the practice of rescuing children from any present distress or uncomfortable situation by hovering about with a safety net the size of Montana. I find nothing more crippling to growth and maturity than this destructive behavior. What is the alternative you ask? I will give you a few examples from my recent weekend with my grands.

My two-year-old granddaughter Adeline stood entangled in her tricycle at the top of the driveway hollering for help. I refused. I told her to, “figure it out,” as she continued to scream bloody murder. She was in no pain; she was just stuck. In a few minutes Addie freed herself and went on her merry way. Sounds like a small thing but it has huge implications. Her lesson was two-fold. No one’s coming to rescue me; I must help myself. She also grew in confidence as she was able to solve her problem. Notice I said her problem.

Switch camera left to a pond near our home where I am standing on a dock watching my seven-year-old grandson, Landon, bait a hook with a piece of bread. He has been taught to cast and hook a fish, but now comes the next step in the art of angling. If you caught a fish, you take it off the hook. I turn and walk away. Moments later he calls to me to get his fish off the hook. I keep walking. In a few minutes the fish was swimming free with NO help from his Pop. Suddenly, I hear blood-cuddling scream. The hook is in his finger. If I had hovered over him that would not have happened, but it needed to happen. What did he learn? Hooks are sharp, be careful. If you do for your children what they can do for themselves, you are hurting them.

Am I a rough Pop? Yes, but it’s because I want my grandchildren to succeed in life and it starts with a tricycle and a hook.

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