Maybe you do it because you’re in a hurry. Maybe you do it because you hate to see them struggle. Maybe it’s just a sweet gesture. Maybe you remember your parents doing it for you. Whatever the reason, you should stop.
When we had General H.R McMaster on the Daily Stoic podcast a while back. A father of a millennial, McMaster joked about how he and his daughter jokingly refer to her peers as the “start-my-orange-for-me generation.” Meaning, they can’t even peel an orange without having their parents get it going first. And why is that? Because for as long as they’ve been conscious of it, their parents have been doing stuff like that, whether it was with science fair projects or arguing with teachers over their grades or funding the downpayment for a house.
There are lots of reasons for this snowplow, helicopter parenting style: Narcissism, fear, insecurity, economic uncertainty and, of course, real love. But regardless of the emotion behind it, the effect is the same: It creates a kind of learned helplessness. It creates dependency. It creates resentment too—at the parents, at the world—as they face difficult problems without the necessary tools for solving them.
Our goal is to raise self-sufficient kids. As we’ve said, their lives should be good, but not easy. So let them peel their own oranges. That doesn’t mean just let them struggle like “Bean Dad,” it means teach them. It means encourage them. It means believe in them. It means have expectations for them. It means letting them go off on their own.
That’s going to be tough for you sometimes…but the rewards are worth it. For everyone.