"About a year ago I brought Lily to an amusement park. Near the end of the day there was a roller coaster she wanted to go on, but it was too scary for me, so I told her I wouldn't go on it with her. She asked if she could go on it by herself, but you needed to be 48" to ride alone. She told me she was going to find someone else to ride with her, and I didn't object. She wandered a bit with me until she identified someone who I think she thought was sufficiently non-threatening (middle-aged woman hanging out with family) and Lily asked me if I would be willing to ask on her behalf. I declined, expecting Lily would be too shy, but Lily went up, explained the situation, and asked if they would go with her. They were a bit confused, confirmed the situation with me, asked me if I was ok with it, and I emphasised that it really was fine if they said no. They decided to do it, and as far as I could tell both had a really good time."
This is just such a great example of what we're losing in society and community, the ability to put some trust in others, even with things that are really important to us. I'd love to work on ways to help people regain and build that ability to trust in others.
I just hope nobody's reading this and feeling bad about their parenting. The personality of the child is critical.
Now, as a parent, I've done a 180.
My three-year-old has a distinct personality that clearly draws on elements of mine and my wife's, but he's been exhibiting little behaviors all his own since infanthood that have become more fully formed as he's grown into a little kid. In the moment, we didn't recognize that those behaviors were 'personality', but with hindsight it's clear that that's what we were seeing.
We do our best to nudge him in the right direction (sometimes very firmly), but like the OP and like you, we've come to realize that our job isn't to mold or shape him (or anything that active) but rather to be a set of guardrails that help to keep him safe and a step stool he can use to flourish into a fuller version of the person he already is.
The core premise of both of these is not letting responsibility gravitate by default to those in power above you. It prevents a mentality of "I just take orders" or "I just do what I'm told." Granted, it requires the support of those above you (as seen with the parent in the article being very supportive of this way of thinking) and it also requires people to be open to learning to work in this way (some people have gotten so rigid in how they work they won't be able to make the leap).
i did this with my dog, largely for the same reasons cited:
> "Not only does it make their lives better, because they can meet their own needs how they want, but it makes my life easier, because they can handle more on their own."
also, to give her a measure of freedom and develop self-confidence. she's a rescue, likely abused by her previous owners, and had lost all confidence in herself and trust in others. it's been great for the both of us.
You have to love the phrasing of the problem: "other adults" reinforce the wrong lesson about independence for the author's children.
How do the general concerns of people who aren't us factor into these lessons about independence?
I don't blame adults who don't know these specific children for being concerned for their safety, even though it might mean I need to visibly parent more than I would prefer.
We detached this subthread from https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=23468960.
> She wandered a bit with me until she identified someone who I think she thought was sufficiently non-threatening (middle-aged woman hanging out with family) and Lily asked me if I would be willing to ask on her behalf.
is it really sexism (subtle or otherwise) for the author to give his best guess as to the state of mind of his daughter at the time? or are we passing judgment on the possible motivations of a six-year-old girl?
Perhaps because sexism in this instance is completely acceptable? I'm not objecting to that, by the way.
Can't imagine how to navigate this these days, but maybe there's a layer between.