Don’t Overdo It!

You love them. It feels good to get them things. It feels good to spoil them, even.

Especially if you’re someone who works a lot, who feels guilty about mistakes they’ve made, who carries wounds from their own childhood. 

But we have to be careful. Plutarch reminds us of something we have all seen, maybe even experienced in our own childhood. “In my time, I have seen fathers in whom excessive affection had become the cause of no affection…” he writes, “just as plants are nourished by moderate applications of water but drowned by many in succession.”

We talked about F. Scott Fitzgerald and how in time he came to resent, even hate his parents for the spoiled bubble they had kept him in as a child. We’ve talked about John F. Kennedy, who was so sheltered that he missed the Great Depression. Neither of their parents did these things out of malice, but out of love. Yet it ended up harming their children—and their relationship—more than it helped. 

We would do well to learn from these cautionary tales. We have to be moderate in all things—even in our generosity and affection. There is such a thing as too much of a good thing. Give them a little space. Let them struggle. Let them know what it means to want but not always have. Let them know you love and care about them of course, but nobody wants to be smothered. Don’t overdo it. 

Balance. That’s the key.

P.S. This was originally sent on January 14, 2021. Sign up today for the Daily Dad’s email and get our popular 11 page eBook, “20 Things Great Dads Do Everyday.”

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