6.02.2007

Republican Parenting

This morning at the zoo, I was watching Jada - from a distance - when
it dawned on me that my philosophy about parenting is identical to my
philosophy about politics and economics. In other words, I'm a
Republican parent.

What does that mean? Well, I'm Republican in politics and economics
because I believe, in general, that government intervention all too
often stifles personal initiative, leads to unintended consequences,
and is too blunt a tool when something finer is needed. It's tempting
as a government to want to monkey around with stuff directly instead
of creating an environment in which private players can do what they
do best, since you want to be seen as taking action and it can be hard
to trust that those private players will do their part. And yet that
restraint is what juices innovation and makes our country great.

Same, in my opinion, with parenting. Certainly, we can't be
completely libertarian: my daughter, at two, fundamentally needs me to
do things for her, like change her diaper and keep her from running
out into the street. But over time, she needs to learn to take
responsibility, and she needs room - and encouragement - to blossom
into the unique individual that God has made her to be.

So it's my job to know the difference between what I need to do for
her, and where and how I can give her space to experiment and try and
grow. Just like I think it's government's job to know the difference
between what roles it is to play for society, and what other,
safeguarding roles it is to play so society's members can play their
roles.

So if you catch me saying I'm a Republican parent, it's not because
I'm coaching my kids to love Reagan or advocate for supply-side
economics. It's because I'm standing ten feet back at the zoo,
watching to make sure she's OK but otherwise giving her room to
explore and get dirty and be her own person.

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