Too Helpful

I have been thinking a lot lately about one of the lessons that I have learned as a parent. Sometimes it is very easy to be too helpful to our children. We may want to tell them more than they can understand, or assist them in doing something when the real lesson they should be learning is to continue in the face of challenges. The beauty of this problem is that we make these mistakes with universally good intentions.

About David

David is the father of 8 extremely organized children (4 girls / 4 boys) who is constantly seeking answers to tough questions related to parenting, education and politics while moonlighting for 40 hours each week as a technology professional. He also enjoys cooking, gardening, and sports.
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3 Responses to Too Helpful

  1. Jason Black says:

    I agree. This is a problem I run into with my kids as well. They’re more capable than I sometimes give them credit. It would be better for them if, at times, I stand back to watch them rather than taking over their responsibilities and challenges for them.

    This sounds exactly like my philosophy on the role of government. So frequently, people and politicians (not to necessarily suggest that they are mutually exclusive groups) with the best of intentions can cause more harm than good when they try to solve the problems of people who would do better to learn from their challenges and become stronger by them.

    I’m in favor of helping people. But helping is best done when the intention is to lift and encourage, rather than to dole out endless support, which could be done by the individual. That’s why I favor welfare when it’s done voluntarily – by individuals and non-profits rather than by governments.

  2. Jared says:

    I find it a very rare that I can explain something to my children that they won’t understand — as long as I take the time to explain it properly. Of course, their questions during my explanations may expose a lot of errors, misunderstandings, and holes in my knowledge, but that’s hardly their fault…

  3. David says:

    Jason,

    Perhaps the reason that government aid tends towards the dole is that it is impossible to mandate that government employees care for every person who comes in front of them. The best that government can do is mandate that certain rules be followed in giving aid. We would not be any happier if there was a rule for each individual situation that they were expected to address.

    Jared,

    I wonder if your kids are asking the wrong kinds of questions – or else you are more patient than me when you try to satisfy the train of questions that came from a simple “why does so-and-so live two houses away from us?”

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