By Tom Ehrich
During last week's stay with our California family, I marveled at the patience, tenderness and wisdom our son and his wife are showing as parents.
I have the same experience watching our New York-based oldest son and his wife care for their daughter.
They are figuring it out. With our help as their parents, perhaps, but most of it they are learning-by-doing on their own. Little things like giving a bath, setting a bedtime routine, doing the morning dance, reading aloud, playing on the floor, letting the child fall and pick himself up -- they are finding their way, as my wife and I found our way with them.
Many young parents today seem insecure and therefore prone to over-compensation, over-protection, and over-managing their children. Research shows how much damage the "helicopter parent" and "tiger mom" do to their children. but still they do it, because they are so needy.
Time will tell how children raised by insecure parents fare in life. My guess is they will do okay. Children are durable creatures. And God doesn't leave them comfortless.
I think it is the insecure parent who loses out. Just as the career-driven and distracted parent loses out. They don't see the minor miracles of a child's discoveries, or the unique way their child deals with falling, learning, and idle time.
They also become over-invested in their children -- taking away from their marriage or partnership and from their own growth, and setting up a nightmare of living through the child and requiring the child's approval. Children can't possibly bear that much responsibility for their parent's well-being.
I think children need to try new things, fail early and often, stumble and fall, get back up and stumble again. They don't need shouts of "Great job!" for doing something basic like eating their carrots. They don't need gushing praise for each small success, or even for large successes.
They don't need to be told, "Be careful! You'll fall!" They learn to be careful by falling, not by being afraid to disappoint their parents.
I suspect most parents figure this out. Their children figure it out, too. We could all benefit from just relaxing.