Something I lack.

Someone put into words a concept that I’ve been trying but failing to properly convey for years:

Children become adults—autonomous individuals—by separating from their parents: by rebelling, by rejecting, by, at the very least, asserting.

The attributes of adulthood—responsibility, maturity, self-sacrifice, self-control—are no longer valued, and frequently no longer modeled. So children are stuck: they want to be adults, but they don’t know how. They want to be adults, but it’s easier to remain children. Like children, they can only play at being adults.

There is a concept in the Navy that’s a bit foreign to civilians but it’s apt here. It’s called “working yourself out of a job”. The military is a young man’s game. It’s a physically challenging life and the toll can be high even when not in combat. So, in the military, a solid 50% of the job is to teach the people coming up behind you how to do your job. If a military member can’t perform their duties for any reason, and there aren’t at least two or three other people who can step in seamlessly, that military member failed.

I took the same approach with my kids. My job as a parent was to prepare my kids to take care of themselves; not to coddle them through every situation but to teach them to figure things out on their own. Teach them to improvise, adapt and overcome.

Many parents these days seem to have lost sight of that job. They want to be their kid’s best friends rather than their parents. Pro-tip: You can be your kid’s best friend when they’re out on their own, self-sufficient and have kids of their own to raise. If you try to do it before then, that time will likely never come.

Anyway, the entire column linked above is well worth the read. It’s not long and he says it way better than I ever could.


1 thought on “Eloquence

  1. Old (and now disregarded) parenting rule: It is one’s job as a parent to put oneself out of a job; that is accomplished by unobtrusively safeguarding against major injury, of all type, and allowing the minor ones, followed by the minimum necessary recovery assistance.

    Old corporate motto: When entering a new position one’s second job is to begin recruiting and training one’s replacement because one’s first job is to search for a higher position and develop, and demonstrate, the skills necessary to perform it; without a suitable replacement available such movement will be impossible.

    There is a school of thought emphasizing these two particular attributes frequently accompany each other.

    nota bene: “a higher position” does not necessarily mean “within one’s present organization” and “followed by the minimum necessary recovery assistance” does not mean ignoring either counseling, of all type, or calamity avoidance instruction.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.