Are parents wiser to edit their kids stories or try to author them?
According to Google, there are 7,530,103,737 people living on planet Earth, which is mind-blowing from both a numbers standpoint and that Siri had an exact answer. Even more impressive is that of from those over 7.53 billion people, every single person represents a one-of-a-kind story. This is the first lesson I learned about being a parent and a critical one for all of us to ponder: meaning, my definition of how to be a great parent no longer has one single answer… it now has 7,530,103,737 different ones.
My Edit vs Author idea origins stem from my observations that today’s parenting “pendulum” has swung so far from center that through our actions, we now risk doing more damage to our kids than good. As an example, for those of us born in the 60’s and 70’s, a couple of rules of conduct were to obey authority figures and be home by the time the street lights were on. Our parents (for the most part) had no idea where we were or what we were doing, which positively saved them a lot of worry, as I know my friends and I pushed acceptable safety limits almost every day. While this hands-off approach to parenting is almost unthinkable today, it allowed us kids to jump in puddles, play in creeks, jump off roofs, build forts, and ride bikes without helmets: all super-fun activities that taught us great life lessons (some of which included stitches).
Unfortunately, it’s my belief that today’s parenting pendulum has swung so far in the other direction that it’s now completely normal for parents to not only know where their kids are every minute of the day, we’ve taken on the responsibility of being our kids’ personal concierges, event planners, and legal representative to all authority figures. We control every aspect of their lives down to making sure our kids get the grades and activity time they need, all in order to live out the “road map to success” we’ve painstakingly written for them. This crazy swing toward “helicopter parenting” has proven the catalyst for my Edit vs Author theory, as I firmly believe we’re surrounded by compelling data (e.g., 61% of Millennials aged 23-29 live at home) saying we ought to consider some new ideas.
What’s more, the medical field now confirms each one of us represents a unique DNA set, which is in and of itself an amazing fact. So, since we are all one-of-a-kind, it occurs to me that maybe our job should be to Edit our kids’ (students, co-workers, spouse, significant others) also unique stories rather than Author them? In my view, an editor’s job is to make a story better… not write it. The best editors accomplish this by highlighting and emphasizing the best chapters in a book and encouraging an author to make changes in the not so great ones. Unfortunately, so many of us (parents, bosses, teachers, spouses, significant others) wind up trying to Author every story around us.
Perhaps the most confusing part of the bad authoring I’ve observed is that these efforts seems to stem from a place of great love. It’s my opinion that authoring someone else’s story is often-times a fear-based, defensive mechanism wherein a parent is actually trying to protect their child from the pain and scars a parent experienced in their own childhood. This is completely understandable, but too often results in parents being so focused on protecting kids from bad things that they forget to notice and celebrate the good ones.