Who makes the magic?

October 18, 2016


Sometimes it seems like younger generations are looking for a shortcut, a way to the magic without putting in the effort and especially not the time. And even better if someone else does it for them. Daddy, maybe. Or anyone else.

Self-reliance is not as popular as it once was.


I know parents who are complicit in this, too. They want their kids to have it better than they did and as a result, they step in and do it for them, thereby ensuring their kids won’t have the joy of achieving on their own. These kids won’t develop  self-reliance and parental involvement pretty much ensures the grown kids won’t have the skills to do it in the future.

What a disservice. To never have that feeling that “I did it myself”?

I’m happy to say that I’ve known a lot of magic and proud that I made it happen all by myself. My parents empowered me because they didn’t do it for me. Nope.  They were self-made and they expected us to be self-made, too.

Well, except for my baby sister. Who was the baby. And was treated that way. And always used that as an excuse for not “making anything” of herself. But that’s another story. (Parents take heed.)

Doing it myself allowed me to take real pride in my accomplishments.

When I think of the young people I know who haven’t experienced the pleasure of doing something big all by themselves, with their own resources and self-reliance, it makes me sad.

Not too long ago I heard a parent talking about the trust fund kids in their child’s peer group. The child is not really a child, they’re a young adult. And felt that it was unfair that their friends had a slick, easy ride on their trust funds, while they did not. The parent told me that story and felt guilty that they could not provide the things these trust fund kids had.


I was shocked that this would even be a parental concern and horrified that the adult child would bring this up.  I couldn’t even imagine that a parent would feel this way. Or that an adult child would feel so entitled.

I know some of you parents are going to point out that I’m not a parent. That I don’t know the pressures parents are under today. That you simply want to give a helping hand. Yadda yadda yadda.

I hear you.

And I know parents out there who have let their kids earn their way. Their adult kids are some of the nicest, most interesting and most accomplished I have ever met. They’re out in the world making things happen for themselves and others.

True, that.

Their upbringing has prepared them for the future ahead. One in which their parents have moved on to their eternal reward and are unavailable. Because that happens to us all.

And if a kid doesn’t know self-reliance by then…..



35 comments on “Who makes the magic?
  1. I’m big on self-reliance myself 🙂 my babies are both under 3 so they’re young yet but it’s never too early to allow them to seek their independence and learn to do things themselves. My daughter is actually probably a bit more independent than I’d like haha but even still, I wait close by and often wait, letting them work through any frustration from not knowing how to do something and if it gets to a tipping point then I’ll ask “would you like some help”; more often than not they reply, “no, mama, I do it.”

  2. Ryder Ziebarth says:

    Ok,my friend, I take issue with this comment from your post: ” They want their kids to have it better than they did and as a result, they step in and do it for them, thereby ensuring their kids won’t have the joy of achieving on their own. These kids won’t develop self-reliance and parental involvement pretty much ensures the grown kids won’t have the skills to do it in the future.” I can only assume you are talking ONLY about money here. Because there are a myriad of ways parents step in and help a child throughout life, and lending from their own pockets or gifting them money through a legacy trust, set up careful by a legal team to be incrementally distributed at a certain age in the receivers life is only one of those ways.Usually, with a trust, there is no ” free and easy” ride, as your friends child imagines. Your friends assumption that a trust-fund compensated adult walks around with pockets full of free-flowing cash available to them 24/7 is, for the large part, incorrect. Legacy trusts of all sizes exist and have for centuries, yes, but generally speaking, most are highly regulated by the power of attorneys and the tax-man. The other form of involvement from parents, a listening ear, feedback, constant support and advise are priceless. Working together with your child to problem solve throughout their lives is what a parent’s role is, and that role, if the child is lucky enough to have a solid, trusting and close relationship with them, never ends.It is part of the unconditional love, mutual respect and joy of family life.My 87 year old mother is still available to give me advise; my sister, my brother, my entire family; are at the ready for each other in times of need. My sister-in-law, a head-hunter,is helping my 26 year old recast her resume; I tutored my niece to a 500 word high school entrance essay this weekend, and the end result which she sent back to me an hour later, came with this note” Thank,you for all your help, I LOVE what “I” wrote, Aunt Ryder!” There is a fine line between enabling a child and offering guidance and support. Sometimes it just takes time for them to catch on.I still clean my daughter’s Boston apartment when I visit… but the other day, she called to tell me, she spend a Saturday cleaning in the “mom-method” and everything felt and smelled so wonderful.”Thanks for teaching me how to clean baseboards and dust under the sofa, man, it was dirty. James and I made a pact to do it every week from now on.” My job is done! And I loved it while it lasted. Self-reliance is set by example. It is how my parents raised me. I was not perfect, but eventually through their caring, I got ” it” and with everything I accomplished. I see their hand in my entire life’s work, hear their voice and am proud and grateful for their love and support. Their involvement only ensured I knew they had my backs, as I made my mistakes, and learned to pick myself up and start again until I ” got it.”

  3. I agree with so much of what you say here, Carol. I’m a real believer in the adage about being a parent isn’t about giving a child someone to lean on–it’s about making leaning unnecessary. Yes, I understand there are times when it’s right and appropriate to turn to a parent for help–and for a parent to give it, but teaching kids to stand on their own is perhaps the greatest gift a parent can give a child. Like you, I’m not a parent (and have been told, therefore, that I don’t “understand”). My reply to that is, “You don’t have to be a vet to understand you don’t put a cat in a microwave, either.” It’s common sense.

  4. candy says:

    We are big on self reliance and taught our children to be self reliant. Seen to many parents bail out and give their children everything, nothing is ever their fault, They want to start at the top with work, big house and everything goes with it without any of the work.

  5. Diane says:

    This is achingly true, Carol! There are so many things I would have liked to provide for my children, but they were better off earning them themselves. I remember Roberto Benini at the Oscars thanking his parents for giving him the gift of poverty. What a profound statement!

  6. GiGi Eats says:

    I rely on NO ONE ELSE BUT MYSELF. Because in the end, everyone is selfish so you really cannot rely on others for help… It’s a sad reality!

  7. Deepa says:

    Agree with you completely..we are spoiling the younger generation by doing all this..Its important to let them explore it by doing it !

  8. Amber Myers says:

    My kids are so far from trust fund babies. We want them to be self-reliant, that’s for sure. There really won’t be much for them to inherit anyway!

  9. While I have the means to do much more for my adult children, I do not step in and do things for them. I believe people should do for themselves. I worked my way through college and paid for my first car. I have never borrowed money from my parents, nor have they bailed me out of trouble. I expect my own kids to do the same.

  10. Ima says:

    Self reliance has always been something my folks inculcated in my siblings and I
    It’s a selfish world outside that would never hesitate to disappoint and take advantage — you have to be sufficient for you.

  11. Sheryl Kraft says:

    The biggest git we can give our children is self-reliance, which leads to so many other gifts like self-esteem. But it often can be challenging when you see your kid struggling and the first instinct is to help them. A delicate balance, for sure.

  12. Marie says:

    So inspiring! Thank you for sharing.

  13. Angie Scheie says:

    I was just thinking today how everything worth having isn’t easy. Things in life take work and it’s hard to imagine having another mindset. Even though I wish it were a little easier at times!

  14. Elizabeth O. says:

    You don’t have to be a parent to know that this is true. Kids today are too entitled, spoon fed, and too spoiled. They get their way and live their lives easier just because we refuse to let them live a life that is similar to ours.We’re slowly ruining their future. Some college kids these days can’t even fry an egg. That says a lot about us as parents. We have to learn to raise kids who depend on no one but themselves.

  15. Liz Mays says:

    My daughter loves doing things for herself, figuring them out, challenging herself with new things all the time. She may be an exception though.

  16. OurFamilyWorld says:

    These are absolutely a good post such a informative. Glad you share this

  17. Roxy says:

    I don’t think it takes parenthood to know that kids today are lacking serious lessons in self-reliance. I feel like they’re more into entitlement and having things done for them.

  18. Valerie says:

    Agree so much. I could tell you stories that rock your world. It boggles my mind what so many parents and kids miss today because they don’t put in the work.

  19. Ashlea says:

    I have a free range parenting style. Im there when my son needs me but I prefer to watch at a distance to let him do things on his own.

  20. I had to be very self-reliant growing up. I was paying for my own shoes and clothes by age 9 and as a teenager I not only saved up for college and worked several part time jobs while maintaining As in all my honor and AP level courses, but even loaned my parents money when they were having trouble. I learned a lot about having to do it for myself early on. I moved out early, paid for college, and am now debt free and pretty successful by society’s standards. That being said, I’d love to provide a better life experience for my children. I still want them to work for things and understand the value of money-but I don’t think it should come at the expense of their childhood or education. I hope to find the balance between their being responsible and accountable while still being able to be a kid and focus on their education and making friends to life healthy, full lives.

  21. Hmm very interesting! I agree!

  22. sue says:

    As a parent it is so hard not to want to step in every time life gets hard for your child. However they need to learn that life is hard and they must deal with whatever comes their way. Developing strong, independent children is one of the rewards of parenting. Seeing them take control of their own lives.

  23. I’m a fan of self reliance and did things on my own (even though I’m the baby of the family.) It was hard to hold back and not do too much for my son, but when he was about 7 or 8 I pushed him to do something that taught me a lesson. We had steak for dinner and I insisted he cut his own meat. He didn’t want to and pitched a fit but in the end he did it. Several months later we had one of his friends over who asked me to cut his meat for him. My son said with pride, “I’ll do it!” and he did. I saw his self esteem blossoming, admired his competence, and knew that this was the way to help him become an independent person. And it worked!

  24. haleybop says:

    My parents let us make mistakes. We learn from our mistakes! They change us as people and make us into who we are.

  25. Anna Palmer says:

    You are singing my song. As a trust fund kid myself I know the dangers of having money at a young age. My kids are expected to contribute, buy their own toys and fail a lot to learn to stand on their own two feet. We are hands off so that hopefully they will have firm feet to stand on.

  26. I know someone whose parents still help with everything, even in adulthood. It definitely inhibits self-reliance. Fortunately, that has not been a prominent issue in the people I’ve met throughout my life.

  27. Silly Mummy says:

    Yes, it’s a difficult line to tread. I agree that giving children too much without expecting them to do anything themselves can result in overly dependent, entitled people. But I think it is in attitude, rather than the actual material things. I think people can be given a lot & be very fortunate without feeling entitled or not making efforts themselves, if they are raised to appreciate what they have and how lucky they are, and not view it as just their right.

  28. Lee Gaitan says:

    It is a balancing act for sure, knowing when to hold them up and when to let them go, But I do think so many of today’s helicopter parents have thrown the equation way out of balance. Like you, I am not talking about money. I’m talking about cushioning every single blow so the child never learns resilience and doing every little thing for him/her, so the child never learns self-reliance. When I was teaching middle school a few years ago, I had 12-year-old children routinely ask me to “open” their banana. Their moms were still peeling their bananas for them! Dear God.

  29. Cori says:

    I could have gone so many places with my comment. I’ll just sum up with agreeing that parents need to let kids fall on their face (emotionally, financially, etc.) and learn from the experience. Or else said child will be 45 years old will still be asking for handouts while parents are trying to prep for retirement…yeah.

  30. Parpar de Real says:

    What nice and informative post! Learning so much thing in this! Thankyou

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